Salesforce.com Officially Opens Bigger Seattle Office, Says Aggressive Hiring of Top Talent Will Continue

3/1/11Follow @curtwoodward

Salesforce.com, the cloud-computing provider that has been in an extended battle with Microsoft for market share and talent, plans to hire as aggressively as possible to fill its new 11,000 square-foot space in South Lake Union.

And the pace apparently won’t be slowed by a recent court battle over Salesforce.com’s (NYSE: CRM) hiring of a manager from Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT).

“We’re after the best talent in the industry, wherever we can find them—and not all of those people are at one company,” Salesforce.com’s Woodson Martin says. “The truth of the matter is, a lot of people want to work on the next generation of technology. They want to be out on the cutting edge and innovating, and not maintaining the status quo.”

Martin, a senior vice president for San Francisco-based Salesforce.com, spoke to reporters this morning while joining some colleagues at an event to celebrate the official opening of the company’s new Seattle office.

Salesforce.com’s Seattle team—which includes new and existing employees working on its major products—moved into the new office over the weekend and had a little shindig Monday night, Martin says.

It must not have been too crazy, because several people made the 9 a.m. call at Operation Sack Lunch, a local charity.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn welcomed Salesforce.com’s larger presence here, part of a growing trend of Silicon Valley behemoths setting up satellite offices to reap some of the tech talent that’s built up in this market.

“We are creative, we are innovative, we are going to be cutting edge,” McGinn says. “We’re very, very grateful that you all think that Seattle is a great place to do business.”

McGinn also revealed a bit of a burn on Microsoft: He’s a big user of Salesforce.com services (rather than the hometown company’s products), to manage constituent communications in his office and on the campaign trail to keep track of volunteers.

Martin wouldn’t comment on the particulars of Salesforce.com’s existing staff size or just how aggressively it plans to grow in Seattle. But he says the race for good hires didn’t really slow down during the recession and will stay swift.

“The competition for talent is fierce. It always has been,” he says. “I was getting a question from one of the customers here volunteering, who said, ‘Did it get easier during the downturn?’ And I said, ‘No, because the best people are the ones everybody wants to hold onto.’”

Martin says Salesforce.com’s Seattle employees are working on its Sales Cloud and Service Cloud products, along with its Force.com custom apps platform and Chatter, a kind of private social-network system. Martin adds that some of the Seattle folks were instrumental in getting Chatter off the ground.

“A lot of the teams who have architected that product and delivered it to market are based here in the Seattle office and have been a big part of the innovation for the company over the last couple of years. We’re really excited about that,” he says.

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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