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Salesforce Working to Launch Blockchain Product by September Conference

Salesforce, deployed by 150,000 companies and used by roughly 3.75 million professionals worldwide, is developing a blockchain product that it wants to make available by its annual Dreamforce user conference in September, the company’s co-founder Marc Benioff told Business Insider in a fireside chat posted on YouTube.

It all started with a chance encounter in Davos, where serendipity led Benioff, in town for the World Economic Forum (WEF), to cross paths with an attendee at a crypto conference taking place simultaneously.

Benioff said he’d been thinking a lot about what Salesforce’s blockchain strategy could look like, and “just by having that conversation” with a stranger in the InterContinental Davos bar, it all suddenly crystallized.

“You could put blockchain and cryptocurrencies into Salesforce, and this is how you would do it, and this is what it would mean to your customers and how it’d impact them,” Benioff recalled to Business Insider. “I hope that by Dreamforce, we will have a blockchain and cryptocurrency solution for Salesforce and all of our customers. I think it’s a really exciting area for all of them.”

Blockchain is the decentralized ledger technology that uses smart contracts to power cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin but is being explored for other applications, including supply chain, anti-counterfeiting, email marketing and Internet of Things, as well.

Benioff emphasized the importance of “knowing that innovation is coming, there’s new ideas coming all the time.

“There’s more ideas than we can possibly execute,” he said.

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Though the conversation at WEF sparked his initial interest in blockchain, Benioff said that one other moment fully brought the idea to fruition. Co-founder Parker Harris mentioned that one particular senior engineering leader didn’t have a project on his late, and Benioff seized the opportunity. “I said, ‘Send him over.’ I said, ‘Let me tell you my idea and we need to get this done by Dreamforce,’” he recalled.

The Salesforce co-founder drew comparisons between blockchain and some of the biggest cultural tech shifts in recent history.

“There’s the ‘important’ and the ‘urgent,’ and there’s sort of a competition between those two things, “Benioff said. “But sometimes—and I usually want to focus on the important—sometimes, the urgent does become the important when that idea can be a game-changer.” When mobile devices and social platforms upended the landscape, Benioff told his company: “Stop, we’re going to do something completely new.”

Even as the tech visionary sees blockchain’s potential, Arizona is among the first-mover states that have enacted or adopted legislation advancing blockchain for business, according to The Verge, a list that includes Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, Tennessee, Vermont and Wyoming. Arizona’s new bill allows businesses to use blockchain’s smart contracts to store and share data.

Though many experts have issued warnings over blockchain’s readiness for widespread adoption and disapprove of states passing what is seen by some as hastily assembled legislation endorsing the emerging technology, these recent developments are a sign that state-level groups recognize blockchain’s potential even if it may not be 100 percent ready for primetime. States in particular seem to think their blockchain-friendly policies will attract entrepreneurs and boost their economies.