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Salesforce started out in a one-bedroom apartment in 1999 in Telegraph Hill, San Fransisco. The company was founded by Marc Benioff and three other employees who included Parker Harris, Frank Dominguez, and Dave Moellenhoff. The goal was to deliver sales automation software through a software as a service model, a model in which businesses could access their sales automation software through a website. Through doing this, businesses would eliminate the hassles and costs of owning as well as maintaining their own IT infrastructure. The idea took off and in 2003, Salesforce launched the first Dreamforce, a yearly conference in which users and creators of Salesforce come together to discuss product improvements, upgrades and share knowledge. In 2005, Salesforce launched the AppExchange, an online marketplace in which solutions developed with Salesforce could be opened up or sold to the wider Salesforce community.
In 2006, Salesforce introduced its own programming language called APEX as well as VisualForce, a technology which allows users to create any user interface that they want. Apex and VisualForce together were branded Force.com, and through this, Salesforce took the first step in extending its software as a service model to a platform as a service model. Users could now create their own custom applications on the platform. In 2012, Salesforce acquired ExactTarget, a media marketing tool, and expanded its platform to support marketing applications. This was a major milestone as it was the first step in making Salesforce a more comprehensive solution that could address all areas of CRM. Salesforce also expanded its platform to mobile devices in 2013. The Salesforce1 platform was built especially for mobile devices and allowed, for the first time ever, users to access the same information from a mobile device that they could from a computer. This allowed users to access their Salesforce applications from anywhere with any device.
In 2015, Salesforce launched Lightning Experience, a dynamic new user interface that made building custom applications more user-friendly. Lightning Experience also encouraged a more componentized way of developing in which existing functional system components could be integrated and reused to create full applications, saving time as well as developer costs. Lightning Experience also provided the foundation for building smarter applications that incorporated the power of artificial intelligence (AI). AI was introduced to the platform in 2016 with the launch of Salesforce Einstein, a set of AI-powered functionalities that could be integrated into applications for better performance. Business users could now get on demand predictions, detailed analytics, and recommendations with regards to their customers that made them more competitive. Salesforce notices that AI drives the future of CRM and as such plans to greatly expand and improve its use as part of its platform within the next few years.
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