February 4, 2023

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Slack’s new CEO, Lidiane Jones, brings two decades of product experience to the job • Eureka News Now

We’ve heard a lot over the past few weeks about the executives leaving Salesforce, but not much about the woman Stewart Butterfield will take over as CEO at Slack when he takes time off from gardening. It’s time we changed that.

Her name is Lidiane Jones, a woman with in-depth knowledge of enterprise software. (I requested an interview with Jones for this article, but the company didn’t make her available to speak to the press.) Surprisingly, many of the analysts I spoke to about Salesforce knew little about her, but they might because they just didn’t know it wasn’t provided on analyst days.

That will likely change when she takes over late next month.

But it didn’t come out of nowhere. Jones, who lives in the Boston area, has been with Salesforce for three years and quickly rose through the ranks: She started out as a product lead for Commerce Cloud and then — ahead of her promotion this week — was promoted to GM of Commerce Cloud owner the title GM of Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Experience Cloud, which basically encompasses the company’s entire B2C business.

Before that, she spent 13 years at Microsoft, working on a variety of products from Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Project to Enterprise Application Virtualization, Office Collaboration and Azure Machine Learning.

She also served as Sonos’ VP of Product Management for almost four years. Her unique blend of enterprise and consumer experience should prepare her well for her new job leading Slack, where she must walk a fine line between user experience and enterprise needs.

In Butterfield’s farewell Slack announcement, provided by sources to Eureka News Now earlier this week (was it just this week?), he lavished praise on his successor. While he might try to sell her to a skeptical group used to his decades of consistent leadership, it sounds like he really likes her too:

So to this Lidiane. you will love her She is pragmatic and practical, insightful, passionate, creative, friendly and curious. She’s right there with that little diamond-shaped heart on the Venn diagram with the four circles of Smart, Humble, Hardworking, and Collaborative. Prior to Salesforce, she was a product lead at Sonos for four years, where she fell in love with Slack. She has great respect for our product approach, our customer obsession and our unique culture. She is one of us.

That’s quite a warm welcome, and Anand Thaker, a marketing technology consultant and founder of several startups who Salesforce is following closely, also thinks she’s a good fit for Slack.

“She has a solid technical and managerial background, and the projects and groups she’s worked on within Salesforce — experience, marketing, commerce — were all areas where Slack would fit and deliver the best value. Each of these have strong consumer commerce elements where the greater growth (or less churn) is likely to occur, and are consistent (if you read the tea leaves) with what Beinoff wanted from Salesforce,” Thaker told Eureka News Now.

Butterfield added that her roles within Salesforce will make her a strong voice for Slack within the larger organization, which could come in handy when handing over leadership.

Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder and chief analyst at Deep Analysis, said she was in many ways better prepared for the job than some longtime CEOs.

“I don’t know Lidiane personally, but she seems like the logical option as she appears to have done a good job leading the Marketing, Experience and Commerce clouds and running those clouds is not significantly different from running multiple of large companies, so ironically she has more real CEO experience as a first-time CEO than many seasoned CEOs. Also, she’s been with Microsoft for a long time – and could bring some of her rigor to the table,” he said.

Jones certainly has big shoes to fill, taking on the position of founding CEO amid a major upheaval for the company, but with a few decades of technical experience behind her, she seems more than up for the challenge.