default hero for archive pages

Elevate 2024: Scaling Generative AI Across the Enterprise

It was a fantastic experience hosting a panel on generative AI at Elevate, our annual CEO summit. The group joining me on stage were true trailblazers in the AI revolution:

Cris Valenzuela is the visionary founder and CEO of Runway. He’s relentlessly pushing the limits of AI-driven content creation. Vipul Ved Prakash is the founder and CEO of Together AI. Vipul and his team are building the critical infrastructure to democratize generative AI. Richard Socher is the founder and CEO of Richard is on a mission to transform search through AI, delivering genuinely personalized results.

Our conversation featured many great insights for startups and builders of all stripes. In this blog post I’ll share a few that resonated with me. To watch the panel in its entirety, check out the following video:

Editorial noteQuotes have been edited for clarity.

The AI Conversation Has Shifted From Education to Differentiation

10 years ago, AI conversations focused on explaining to users why they need an AI solution at all. Today, the conversation is focused on how to differentiate your AI solution from all the other options on the market, and how to move from proof-of-concept into production use cases.

“The problem back then was that [AI] was a very general purpose technology. You had to choose very specific entry points that help people understand what this can do for them. Now customers come to us and know [AI] can do something for them.”

Richard Socher

Enterprise Sales Depends on Workforce Development

To attract enterprise clients, AI startups must focus not only on selling their products, but also implementation and workforce development. Enterprises with C-suite executives focused on AI transformation tend to make better clients because they can serve as the internal advocate for new AI solutions. 

“I think one of the biggest things that takes time to ramp up is understanding how to best use these models. Sometimes it requires you to do your job slightly differently from what you’ve done before. Companies with a head of AI are more focused, and they feel empowered.”

Vipul Ved Prakash

Companies Will Leverage Open Source for Cost and Efficiency Reasons

Companies are currently using a mix of open source and private LLMs as they scale their AI operations. However, once these organizations move towards production use cases, it’s likely they’ll rely more heavily on open source because it’s more cost effective.

“Most companies don’t need to have the best language model. If you just want to have a service bot or specific answers for your industry vertical, you can have an open source one that you fine tune on your vertical and data. You don’t need the best LLM out there, and that saves you a lot of money.”

Richard Socher

AI Startups Must Move With Urgency

Increasing competition in the AI space is a clear signal that the market sees value in various AI solutions. Startups seeing competition from larger incumbents must strive to iterate faster and take more calculated risks in order to stay relevant.

“Competition from other big companies is great—it moves innovation forward and allows your team to have much more urgency and agency as to what needs to get done and how fast you need to do it.”

Cris Valenzuela

The Only Constant in AI is Change

The panel covered extensive ground, from accrual of AI value to generative AI use cases. With the AI age still in its early stages, all agreed the rapid pace of innovation will likely continue.


Are you a founder building in the generative AI space? We’d love to talk! To get in touch, email me at

Elevate 2024: The State of Enterprise Sales

I recently had the honor of hosting a panel on enterprise sales at Elevate—Salesforce Ventures’ annual CEO summit. Joining me on the panel were three seasoned pros in enterprise sales: Drata Chief Revenue Officer Adam Aarons, Morgan Stanley Managing Director Keith Weiss, and Wells Fargo’s CIO for Consumer Payments and Banking, Lipsa Goswamy.

The panel featured a ton of great advice for startups selling to enterprises. In this blog post I’ll share a few insights that jumped out to me. To watch the panel in its entirety, check out the following video:

Editorial noteQuotes have been edited for clarity.

Enterprises Are Likelier to Buy vs. Build AI Solutions

The rapid pace of innovation in the AI space provides an advantage to startups and small teams that can iterate quickly. Startups must be ready to jump on opportunities where enterprises are seeking out a specific functionality that they cannot build in-house. 

“Because the AI use cases haven’t been built out into the broader incumbent platforms, it is a good opportunity for startups to get a toe in the door, to give us a functionality that we just can’t get from one of our existing platforms.”

Keith Weiss

Companies Need Help Using AI to Improve Internal Processes

The companies that have seen the biggest benefit from generative AI thus far are the ones that have used the technology internally to improve their products. As such, another way startups can get their foot in the door is by helping risk-averse companies iterate internally on products before going to market with new solutions. 

“If there was a biggest beneficiary thus far, it’s been the companies that are able to improve their existing solutions by using generative AI, not having to reinvent the wheel, not having to create something new, not having to go through all those processes that it takes for our companies to come up with a new solution.”

Keith Weiss

Startups Must Be ‘Enterprise Ready’

Before going to market, startups must consider if their business can accommodate enterprise clients. Working with enterprises is often demanding: regulatory environments are complex to navigate and procurement cycles are long. Startups must do the work to ensure they can manage a relationship with a large organization.

“We have standards around scale, around risk, compliance, privacy, and governance … We are a big bank. We are regulated amongst top five banks, so what I think is ‘is the company going to be able to stand up to the expectations we have?’”

Lipsa Goswamy

Enterprise Sales is a Grind

Enterprise sales are lucrative, but challenging. If startups hope to succeed, they must have a dedicated enterprise sales function and strong leadership that can keep the team motivated and mission-oriented. 

“One of our themes is, ‘control what you can control, because there’s a lot of things going on that you can’t.’ But if you’re absolutely excellent on the things that are within your control, you’ll win a lot more times than you’ll lose. There’s beauty in the grind.”

Adam Aarons

Build Enterprise Credibility Through Third-Party References

Startups benefit when independent market actors, like Gartner, cite or reference their work. Peer company or personal recommendations are also invaluable for startups seeking to gain enterprise credibility.

 “I’ll be honest, if [a competitor] is using a product, we’re going to take a look at it just to see like, what are they seeing that’s interesting there? Maybe there’s something in there that should work for us?”

Keith Weiss

Don’t Give Away Your Product for Free

While enterprise validation is powerful, startups shouldn’t be so desperate as to partner with an enterprise that doesn’t care about their organization’s interests. 

“Don’t give [your product] away for the opportunity. I’ve had companies tell me, ‘hey, just to be able to use our logo, you should give us the software.’ And I’ll be like: why would you want me to do that? It’s bad for you if your suppliers aren’t making any money.”

Adam Aarons


It was a pleasure to facilitate a conversation around enterprise sales for 100+ startup founders, CEOs, and executives at Elevate. The panel covered a lot of ground, from how enterprises are investing in AI to how IT budgets are changing, and a whole lot more. I hope all of our attendees came away with actionable insights they can apply to their business.

Are you a founder building in the enterprise SaaS space? We’d love to talk! To get in touch, email me at

Elevate 2024: Revolutionary Leadership – Lessons From CEOs

I recently had the honor of hosting a panel on leadership at Elevate—Salesforce Ventures’ annual CEO summit. Joining me on the panel were three distinguished chief executives: Denise Dresser, CEO of Slack; Marissa Mayer, former Yahoo! CEO and current CEO of Sunshine; and Oscar Munoz, former CEO of United Airlines. 

The panel touched on a host of topics, including AI’s influence on leaders and their decision making, the value of employee trust when running a startup, and leading with authenticity. In this blog post I’ll share a few insights that really stood out to me. To watch the panel in its entirety, check out the following video:

Editorial noteQuotes have been edited for clarity.

Leaders Seek Out Challenges and Learning Opportunities

Leaders love challenging environments and learning opportunities. The key is to maintain a growth mindset and not lose focus on what matters most: supporting the people and teams running the organization. 

“Being a CEO and leading a company is one of the richest design problems ever—actually designing products, businesses, teams, and culture. So I loved that learning experience.”

Marissa Mayer

AI is Making Leaders Act Faster and With More Intention

The pace of change and decision making is accelerating with AI. Founders must surround themselves with a trusted and energized team so they’re prepared to act quickly. Incorporating AI and automating workflows has meant companies are moving faster than ever before, which may prompt changes to team strategy and organization. 

“Now is just not the time to be tired. You need teams and people that realize this is not just a sprint for a quarter: this is going to take longevity and speed at a pace and duration we have not seen.”

Denise Dresser

Startup Boards Benefit From Diverse Thinking

It’s important for founders to include operational leaders on their boards of directors in addition to investors because operators are more connected to business performance. In addition, a startup board’s composition should not rely too heavily on one persona. 

“Operators are overall really helpful on boards. They understand some of the challenges you’re facing, and in a much more visceral way, because they’ve had to make some of those hard decisions.”

Marissa Mayer

Deal With Problems Head On and Maintain Employee Trust

Founders need to prioritize listening and learning, especially when it comes to problem solving and making big decisions that will affect the entire company. Talking directly with employees and elevating their voices will help them feel valued during transitions. 

“The fundamental thing that turned United around was the fact that the humans involved, all 100,000, felt like they were part of it.”

Oscar Munoz

Look Inward for Leadership Advice

Founders must be authentic and challenge themselves to build their own leadership approaches aligned with their values and strengths, rather than looking outward and emulating others’ styles. Trying to be someone you’re not will make a leader less effective. 

“The more intense the leadership role becomes, the more in touch with yourself and your gut and your moral compass you have to really be—and it’s hard.”

Denise Dresser

Help Your Teams Work Efficiently to Combat Information Overload

Founders must lead from the front and commit to continuously evaluating and evolving how their workforce operates to drive improvements in productivity. Leaders should leverage technology and incorporate AI in a way that empowers their people to focus on the most impactful parts of their jobs. 

“[We are] building ways for all of you who are customers and using Slack to actually quiet the noise, to use AI to summarize information and to predict the information you need … so you can find everything, communicate, and collaborate more easily.”

Denise Dresser


It’s a special opportunity to share the stage with CEOs who offer unique insights into such a wide array of topics. I hope the 100+ startup founders, CEOs, and enterprise executives at Elevate were able to take away some valuable insights.

Are you a founder building in the enterprise SaaS space? We’d love to talk! To get in touch, email me at

Elevate 2024 Highlights

Last month in San Diego, Salesforce Ventures had the honor of hosting 100+ portfolio company founders and CEOs, enterprise executives, and Salesforce leaders for two days of knowledge sharing, connection, celebration, and giving back. 

Our second annual CEO summit featured keynote speeches from former U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice and champion swimmer Diana Nyad, panel conversations with leaders and innovators across AI and enterprise SaaS, and workshops on topics that are top of mind for founders in 2024: implementing generative AI, selling to enterprises, cultivating a high performance work culture, and navigating the evolving exit environment.

Elevate also featured curated networking sessions, group outings, and a volunteer opportunity with an organization that promotes surf therapy to aid injured or disabled U.S. military veterans and active-duty service members. 

We left Elevate feeling inspired by our community and invigorated about the future. But before we turn the page, we wanted to highlight a handful of our favorite takeaways from this year’s event.

Editorial note: Quotes have been edited for clarity.

Be the Change You Want to See in the World

Ambassador Susan Rice on stage with David Schmaier.

On the first night of Elevate, Salesforce President and Chief Product Officer David Schmaier hosted a fireside chat with Ambassador Susan Rice focused on her career in public service, the current state of geopolitics, AI regulation, national security, and much more. In her closing remarks, Ambassador Rice spoke to attendees about the changes she believes we need to overcome to foster a more functional politics:

“In the short term, we need to reward at the ballot box politicians who don’t make it their mission to exacerbate our divisions,” Ambassador Rice said. “In the medium term, there are steps we can and should take to make our system less vulnerable to polarization. Dealing with partisan gerrymandering and implementing policies like rank choice voting which rewards less extreme outcomes are the kind of reforms that can make a difference, along with taking the influence of dark money out of politics, bringing people back together at the local level, and funding local news.” 

Ambassador Rice said it’s incumbent on all of us to be the change we want to see in our world:

“We live in zip codes with people who agree with us, and we rarely have the opportunity to understand people who come from vastly different places,” Ambassador Rice said. “And I believe it’s quite hard to hate somebody when you actually know them. You find out that what they want for themselves and their families are the same things you want: security, enough food on the table, a job that brings you dignity, and to educate your children and worship or not worship as you please. These are just fundamentals, and we’ve lost sight of that because there’s so many things that reinforce our segregation and polarization. I think we can overcome it, but we’ve got to want to do it, and have citizens and leaders who are committed to it.”

Lead With Your Values

Paul Drews hosts a panel with Denise Dresser, Oscar Munoz, and Marissa Mayer.

In our first panel of Day 2, Salesforce Ventures’ Managing Partner Paul Drews talked to Slack CEO Denise Dresser, former United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz, and Sunshine CEO Marissa Mayer about their experiences as leaders of large enterprises, how to lead amidst digital transformation, good corporate governance, and inspiring a productive workforce. In one notable exchange, Oscar encouraged all founders to lean on their personal values when forced to make tough decisions.

“I rely on who I am and the values of my grandmother, who would never try and blame anyone else for her problems,” Oscar said. 

Marissa added that she strives to be a positive and transparent leader to help motivate her employees.

“When I got to Yahoo!, I also acknowledged that we faced a hard problem. I told the team ‘if this was an easy problem, someone would have figured it out a long time ago. We’re going to need our best thinking here.’ Getting people enrolled in that mindset was important,” Marissa said.

Enterprise Sales Requires Intent

Nowi Kallen hosts a panel with Adam Aarons, Lipsa Goswamy, and Keith Weiss.

Salesforce Ventures’ Managing Director Nowi Kallen discussed the state of enterprise sales in 2024 with Drata Chief Revenue Officer Adam Aarons, Wells Fargo CIO for Consumer Payments & Banking, Lipsa Goswamy, and Morgan Stanley Managing Director Keith Weiss. The panel discussed how enterprises evaluate vendors, IT budgets across regions, enterprise procurement, how enterprises are investing in AI, how enterprise sales have changed since COVID, pricing models, and much more. Among the highlights were Adam and Lipsa’s perspectives on how startups can break into enterprise sales: 

“What it took was intent. We started by talking to prospects in the enterprise and asking them how their business problems related to the solutions we could help provide. And as we did that, we put a team together and staffed it accordingly,” explained Adam. “A true enterprise motion isn’t something you dip your toe in. It’s something you put weight behind. They’re great opportunities, but it’s challenging. You have to leave it all out on the field.”

Lipsa shared how Wells Fargo evaluates startup vendors:

“I think it really boils down to the capabilities we’re looking for, and who can provide those capabilities. Equally important is we have standards around scale, risk, compliance, privacy, and governance, so our vendors must meet those expectations,” Lipsa said. “We spend a lot of cycles trying to determine if a product is a good fit. It has to be a differentiator to the core we’re already building and providing.”

It Takes a Team to Achieve Greatness

Diana Nyad on stage with Leah McGowen-Hare.

In our second fireside chat, Salesforce SVP of the Trailblazer Community Leah McGowen-Hare talked to world champion open-water swimmer Diana Nyad about her famous swim from Cuba to Florida (dramatized in the recent Netflix film ‘Nyad‘), and the teamwork, discipline, and resilience that contributed to her success. Although Diana had the vision and desire to complete the 110-mile swim, she stressed that it takes a high-performing team to accomplish any great feat—be it in athletics or business.

“Those 40 people on my team, I cared about their dreams and who they wanted to be in life. But right now we’re all committed to this one dream,” Diana explained. “So I bowed to them and said, let’s make our commitment together. I can’t do what you do. I don’t have those skills. If you bring all your skills and talents, we’re gonna cross this ocean together. We were sky high on everybody being equally committed and equally valuable.”

Diana also spoke on the importance of grit and determination:

“To be highly successful you need talent. You need a team around you that you can trust. You need some luck and good timing. But more than anything, you need persistence,” Diana said. “We all get knocked down. It’s part of the human condition. You suffer heartache or tragedy. But you get back up. So that startup that failed last year isn’t going to fail this year because you’re coming at it with new intel and a fresh perspective.”

AI is Coming for Tasks, Not Jobs

Rob Keith hosts a panel with Cristobal Valenzuela, Vipul Ved Prakash, and Richard Socher.

Salesforce Ventures Partner Rob Keith closed out Elevate by chatting with Runway CEO Cristobal Valenzuela, Together AI CEO Vipul Ved Prakash, and CEO Richard Socher. They discussed the generative AI revolution, production use cases for gen AI, how enterprises are leveraging AI, quantifying AI ROI, open source vs. closed-source AI, how startups can challenge established incumbents, and more. Among the many interesting insights from the conversation was Cristobal’s perspective on how AI can plug into the creative process:

“Don’t think about jobs that are going to be changed or replaced by AI, think about tasks—tasks people are currently doing like film editing, pre-production, and post-production that are expensive, time consuming, and really boring,” Cristobal explained. “There are hundreds of tasks like these that are inefficient because they’re based on how media worked 25 years ago. Now we can come to a video editor or art director and tell them they can do the same thing they did in two weeks in two minutes. So they can focus on other stuff. That’s a nice hook when you want to focus on adoption within companies.”

Richard also commented on where he foresees AI value accruing in the future:

“There’s a great phrase from Jeff Bezos, where he said everything is changing, and everyone keeps asking what’s next. And he said what maybe people should think about instead is what’s not going to change. What’s going to be the same in 10 years,” Richard said. “In our case, people are going to want to receive accurate and amazing answers all the time. So that’s what we focus on.”

We’ll See You Next Year!

Elevate was an amazing opportunity for us to huddle with our portfolio and provide them with the resources and support they need to be successful today and in the future. We left feeling fortunate to be part of such a great community of builders, innovators, and optimists. We hope everyone who attended felt similarly, and we look forward to expanding and improving upon Elevate in the coming years. 

Interested in becoming part of the Salesforce Ventures’ community? Visit our website to learn more about us and get in touch. 

Elevate in Photos

From Experimentation to Production: How Global Enterprises are Embracing Generative AI

Salesforce Ventures portfolio companies Mistral AI and Hugging Face were recently invited to participate in World Tour Paris—Salesforce’s annual event featuring 12k+ Salesforce experts, customers, partners, NGOs, and members of the wider Salesforce ecosystem. 

Mistral CEO Arthur Mensch and Hugging Face Head of Sales Bassem Asseh spoke on a panel and participated in roundtable discussions with executives from McKinsey, Adecco Group, and Accor Group, among others. Topics included recent innovations in generative AI, trends around enterprise implementation, emerging use cases for generative AI technology, and much more. The discussions featured great insights for builders, executives, and enthusiasts alike. Here were a few of our favorite takeaways.

The Transition From Experimentation to Production

Generative AI adoption across enterprises has been “massive” according to Gloria Macias, a partner at McKinsey who spoke on the panel. McKinsey’s 2023 State of AI survey found that roughly one-third of respondents were already utilizing generative AI, and 60% of leading companies that had adopted conventional AI were now using generative AI.

While this enthusiasm has translated into broad experimentation, the panelists agreed that 2024 is the year we see a transition from experimentation to scalable production use cases. Pierre Matuchet, the SVP of IT & Digital Transformation at Adecco, explained how generative AI allowed his company to deploy a new product feature across multiple geographies in under a month.

“Our CV Maker tool, which allows job seekers to verbally describe their professional background, only took 3-4 weeks of development with generative AI,” Pierre explained. “AI is becoming a real tool for inclusion with a multilingual dimension. We consider AI as a global brain to develop and integrate into all our applications. Now it’s a matter of moving to an execution phase and scaling up.”

Viability of Multi-LLM and Hybrid Approaches

As enterprises make the transition from experimentation to production, many expressed caution around becoming overly reliant on a single vendor’s offerings due to vendor lock-in risk and technology obsolescence risks. During the panel, Pierre detailed Adecco’s strategy to adopt a multi-vendor approach for LLMs to mitigate vendor lock-in risk. Nicolas Bragard, Corporate CIO at Esker France, also expressed apprehension during a roundtable discussion about building critical applications around a single LLM provider’s technology, as their models could become obsolete when competitors release newer, more capable versions.

Arthur from Mistral advocated for enterprises to explore multiple smaller, specialized models rather than solely relying on large models. He contended that an ensemble of smaller models can match the performance of giant models while offering greater flexibility and niche customization capabilities. Echoing this perspective, Bassem from Hugging Face endorsed leveraging smaller open-source models that can be fine-tuned on an enterprise’s proprietary data to reduce vendor dependency.

Emerging Enterprise Use Cases

The panel and executive roundtable discussions shed light on several key use cases where enterprises are adopting generative AI to drive ROI. Arthur identified four horizontal areas where he’s seeing widespread generative AI adoption: internal knowledge management through conversational assistants, software development, customer relations, and marketing. 

Alix Boulnois, Chief Digital Officer at Accor Group, classified her organization’s AI initiatives into five categories: marketing with micro-personalization, enhancing customer experience, decision-making support, enabling developer productivity, and ESG initiatives.

Salesforce Ventures believes startups that can grasp how enterprises are leveraging generative AI capabilities, and deliver tailored offerings aligned with some of these high-value use cases, possess immense potential to capitalize on the rapidly growing market demand. 

Challenges to AI Adoption

While there’s immense enthusiasm surrounding generative AI, several enterprise leaders sounded a note of caution regarding the challenges that still need to be addressed for broad adoption. Key hurdles voiced by the panelists and other senior leaders included data preparedness and quality, uncertainty around optimal AI team structures within organizations (i.e. whether a centralized AI team or decentralized AI units embedded in different functions), the significant costs involved in implementation and maintenance, and lack of clarity around ROI. 

On the latter point, multiple senior executives shared that it’s currently extremely difficult to extrapolate the costs of a proof-of-concept in a controlled environment to full-scale production roll-outs.

Adoption Strategies

During the panel, Bassem and Alix emphasized that identifying the right use case is one of the most critical success factors for enterprise AI adoption: companies should pinpoint a specific business need rather than blindly implementing generative AI for the sake of novelty and buzz.

Gloria noted that change management was a key component of McKinsey’s AI implementation projects, indicating that close collaboration with stakeholders and end-business users is paramount to driving adoption and assuaging fears around generative AI.

Bassem proposed a three-pronged framework for successful enterprise AI adoption: 

  1. Have access to appropriate and clean data,
  2. Possess the necessary infrastructure to support an AI deployment, and
  3. Cultivate the requisite AI competencies and upskill the workforce.

On the last point, Bassem said companies must proactively “board the AI train.” Institutional AI knowledge compounds over time, so getting started early allows organizations to better position themselves for future AI capabilities and applications.


Paris World Tour provided a great opportunity to learn what leading enterprise leaders are thinking and doing as it relates to generative AI. It was an honor to provide a platform for members of our own portfolio to participate in these crucial conversations as we move deeper into the generative AI age. 

At Salesforce Ventures, we embrace generative AI and are excited to collaborate with the most ambitious entrepreneurs in this space. Our generative AI portfolio includes leading companies such as Anthropic, Cohere, Hugging Face, Runway, Mistral AI, Together AI, Tribble,, Typeface, AutogenAI, and Pano, among others.


If you’re a founder building in AI, we’d love to talk. Salesforce Ventures is currently investing in best-in-class AI tooling and horizontal or vertical applications. To learn more, visit our website or email me at

If you’re an enterprise leader experimenting or innovating with AI, we’d also love to talk. To learn more, email me at

Introducing: Salesforce Ventures’ Scaling in the U.S. Masterclass

As a global fund with portfolio companies in 27+ countries, Salesforce Ventures understands many of the unique challenges faced by founders looking to launch and scale their business in the U.S.

Founders entering the U.S. market are often confronted with operational adjustments, differing motions for selling to U.S. customers, unfamiliar U.S. hiring practices, as well as the challenge of building culture and collaboration within multi-geography teams. 

After speaking with many founders working to gain a foothold in the U.S., Salesforce Ventures has organized a series of workshops designed to bring together leaders from non-U.S. based companies that are focused on expansion in the U.S. market. 

Our “Scaling in the U.S. Masterclass” series will take place over the first half of 2024 and will feature executives from Salesforce and our Innovation Advisory Board—as well as founders in our network who’ve successfully grown their business in the U.S.—sharing best practices and learnings for breaking into the market. 

Our series kicked off earlier this month with a dinner in New York City attended by founders from our portfolio and broader ecosystem. During the event, attendees shared insights and challenges related to being a foreign company operating in the U.S., with discussion around topics including:

  • Hiring misfires and retention challenges: Foreign-based executives report experiencing high attrition rates amongst their first U.S.-based hires due to lack of candidate pipeline, misalignment around job expectations, cost of U.S.-based talent, and cultural differences.
  • Regulatory learning curve: Startups expanding to the U.S. often face a steep learning curve pertaining to regulations governing U.S.-based businesses.
  • Adjusting GTM motion: Sales practices vary by region, and founders expanding to the U.S. must adjust to a sales process that’s often different from how the business has historically operated (i.e., longer sales cycles, more stakeholders, more complex procurement processes). This adjustment in sales motion makes the hiring and retention of high quality, local sales people a top priority.
We hosted a cohort of founders and executives for a dinner to share challenges and learnings from their experience scaling in the U.S.

Over the next few months, Salesforce Ventures will host a three-part workshop series to help address these questions and others that’re top of mind for foreign companies entering the U.S.:

  • U.S. Hiring Culture (February 2024): How do you make your first U.S.-based hire? How should you structure the interview process? How does compensation work? How do you navigate employment laws across multiple countries? When is the right time to let go of a U.S. employee? How do you maintain culture, collaboration, and communication across borders? 
  • Selling to U.S. Businesses (March 2024): When is the right time to expand into the U.S.? How do you find your first U.S. customers? What do U.S. enterprises care about? How does Salesforce approach selling into new markets? How does GTM motion differ across different locales? 
  • Enterprise Procurement in the U.S. (April 2024): What does the procurement process look like inside U.S. enterprises? What are the compliance requirements? What sorts of operational changes should startups anticipate when expanding to the U.S.?

Each workshop will be hosted by a panel of executives from non-U.S. companies that have successfully expanded into the U.S., as well as Salesforce leadership and our Innovation Advisory Board. We hope the insights shared at these workshops, as well as the opportunity to connect with other founders who are facing similar challenges, will benefit startups as they take steps to grow their business internationally.

If you’re interested in participating in the upcoming workshops, please fill out the linked form. Note that space is limited at these events, but we will review each submission to identify founders who would be a strong fit for this series.

To submit a form, click here

At the Intersection of Data + AI: Takeaways From Our Innovation Forum

Artificial intelligence and data analytics are transforming every enterprise. Salesforce Ventures recently invited a group of corporate leaders and members of our Innovation Advisory Board (IAB) to meet with select portfolio companies—including Protect AI, Astronomer, Hugging Face, and Starburst Data—for a discussion about how enterprises can leverage new cutting-edge technologies to streamline operations and improve efficiency. 

In attendance were technology leaders from major enterprises, including Comcast, Amazon, T-Mobile, KPMG, Coinbase, and more. The conversation featured many great insights for startup founders and enterprises alike. Here were a few of our top takeaways.

Note: Quotes from our speakers have been edited for clarity and concision. 

Protect AI co-founder Daryan Dehghanpisheh on the typical AI tech stack for enterprises…

“We work a lot with a lot of highly regulated industries like healthcare, life sciences, finance, and defense. There are pretty consistent build patterns for generative AI, and at some point they nearly all rely on open source software (OSS) in some way. OSS can be found in models, data sets, ML Ops tooling, and more. In LLMs, we see a lot of customers fine-tuning OSS models for specific use cases, such as an AI-augmented scientist for molecular discovery in biotechnology processes. Because there are so many regulations about how models, data, and other information is used in healthcare and life sciences applications, these enterprises all need greater control and analysis on the model and the entire AI system.”

“To do this, they use Protect AI to assemble a model and ML bill of materials. With Protect AI, they can manage new vulnerabilities and technical risks, create finer grain access controls to the system, model, and data sets, and have automated documentation for critical regulations. They can also monitor how clinicians, data scientists, and physicians or researchers are using the model and data assets so they can’t, essentially, ‘peek over the wall.’ That could violate some regulatory elements. Protect AI’s Radar policy engine is used to create those policies across all of their AI environments to help them build more secure, safe, and compliant AI.”

Salesforce Ventures’ Investor Emily Zhao on why enterprises may be slow to adopt AI tools…

“A majority of industries are still at the AI proof of concept stage. I think one of the big reasons for the slow adoption curve is challenges related to hallucinations, data privacy, and organizational alignment. We need to resolve those concerns and fine-tuning is one way to do that. Salesforce Ventures is interested in companies building products to help customers fine-tune whatever models they want to leverage for specific values they care about so the outputs are more aligned with what they want. These companies should prioritize user trust and data privacy.”

Hugging Face Head of Sales Bassem Asseh on AI innovations he expects in the near future…

“We’re starting to see use cases around image, audio, and video. What’s coming in the next few months is what the industry calls a multi-modal model. This means a model that is able to take into account language, image, audio, and video and generate an output.” 

Hugging Face Head of Sales Bassem Asseh on balancing model cost and model quality…

“Thanks to open source AI, enterprises have access to models that can be efficient when it comes to fine tuning models with the customer’s processes and datasets. Fine tuning a huge model takes too much time and money. So enterprises are turning to smaller models that are able to focus on specific tasks in specific contexts. For example, if you’re building a feature that summarizes text, you get a model that is built for summarization and fine tune it on your data so it’ll be even better in generating content related to your context and also more cost effective.”​

Corporate partner and IAB feedback

Corporate partners and IAB members who attended our innovation forum raised interesting questions and provided valuable feedback to our founders. We’ve collected a sampling of their most salient insights here:

  • On the challenges of enterprise AI software buying: “The biggest obstacle is determining the right AI solution to solve for a given task. The past year has been characterized by experimenting, exploring, and trying to evaluate where in the organization we can deploy the right solution for the right task. At enterprise scale it can be hard to keep up with the rate of innovation in the market. We have to be very selective about what we’re evaluating and how many resources we’re putting behind exploring whether it’s the right fit for our organization. There’s a lot that goes into deep diving what the solutions are and if there’s actual feasibility behind exploring them further.”
  • On business processes that can benefit from AI and ML technologies: “Digesting regulatory filings and large sets of data, transferring knowledge amongst workers, performing customer research by scanning social media, and writing more efficient code.”
  • On measuring the ROI of AI-driven data analytics initiatives: “We measure by assessing how current systems behave prior to and after AI implementation coupled with data and analytics. KPIs are critical for determining ROI and have to be defined prior to establishing a strong AI presence.”
  • On ensuring data privacy and eliminating bias when utilizing AI solutions: “We’re focused on data privacy using traditional data privacy systems as well as ethics and bias tools that we then integrate with AI-based solutions. We ensure accuracy and fairness via constant monitoring and measurement through traditional systems and parameters in preset models.”
  • On leveraging AI while still maintaining a human touch: “The balance is a delicate one. We aim to make sure each focus area has human involvement.” 

This Innovation Forum was part of an ongoing series that aims to connect Salesforce Ventures’ corporate partners and thought leaders with members of our portfolio. We’re energized by the current rate of innovation in the market, and look forward to nurturing this innovation through an ongoing series of conversations with members of the Salesforce ecosystem.

To learn more about our thoughts on the AI market, read about our recent investments in Hugging Face, Anthropic, and Protect AI.

Archive main content for default archive pages