Activist Elliott Management Corp to nominate directors at Salesforce: sources

Elliott Management Corp, the activist investment firm that recently made a multimillion-dollar investment in Salesforce, plans to nominate several director candidates at the cloud-based software company, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Elliott, which invests more than $55 billion, is currently interviewing a number of people including technology industry executives and executives in other industries, the people said.

The decision to prepare a slate of candidates who can be nominated between February 12 and March 14, could signal a change of direction at Elliott.

Several days ago Jesse Cohn, managing partner at Elliott, said he was looking forward to working “constructively” with the company and that he has “developed a deep respect for Marc Benioff,” Salesforce’s co-founder and co-chief executive.

Elliott has long invested in technology companies and in the past reached settlements for board seats with companies including Pinterest, Twitter and eBay.

It is not clear what Elliott is pushing for at Salesforce.

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News that Elliott expects to nominate directors, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, came after Bloomberg reported Salesforce was considering refreshing its board, a step some companies take preemptively if activists start building holdings of their shares. At Salesforce there are at least four activist investors including Elliott, Starboard Value, Jeff Ubben’s Inclusive Capital and ValueAct, the firm Ubben founded and which is now run by Mason Morfit, sources familiar with the matter said.

Representatives for the firms either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

Salesforce earlier this year announced plans to cut jobs by 10% and close some offices after rapid pandemic hiring left it with a bloated workforce.

Starboard, which has held talks with the company, has called for better cost control but praised new executives including co-CEO Bret Taylor, who is leaving at the end of the month when Benioff will become the sole CEO.

Investors have also pushed Salesforce to increase profits, buy back more shares, and raised some concerns about recent acquisitions.

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