Venture Capital

Salesforce sheds its Australian VC arm amid swingeing job cuts

- January 30, 2023 2 MIN READ
Mike Ferrari
Former Salesforce Ventures head of Australia Mike Ferrari
The Australian venture capital arm of Salesforce is one of the victims of the tech giant’s massive job cuts, with Salesforce Ventures head of Australia Mike Ferrari among those shown the door.

The VC’s local portfolio of companies will now be managed from the US.

Earlier this month, the 23-year-old California-based software company announced a cull of 10% of its workforce – around 8,000 people, as well as the closure of some offices.

Cofounder and co-CEO Marc Benioff wrote to employees saying they “hired too many people leading into this economic downturn we’re now facing” with “customers are taking a more measured approach to their purchasing decisions”.

Salesforce Ventures first landed in Australia in 2019 with a $70 million war chest to invest in local startups, with a focus on enterprise cloud companies that can “extend the power of the Salesforce Customer Success Platform”. Its global investments include Databricks, DocuSign, Stripe andmonday.com.

Among its recent Australian investments, Salesforce Ventures led a $17 million raise for skills analysis startup Reejig. Other investments include the fintech unicorn Airwallex, which in October last year raised $160 million in a Series E extension, as well as the Queensland workplace training platform Go1, which bagged $140 million in mid-2022, and Culture Amp.

Ferrari, a Sydney-based American expat, previously ran the CIA-backed VC fund In-Q-Tel, before signing on at Salesforce Ventures in October 2021.

He moved from Silicon Valley to Australia in 2019 to establish and co-lead In-Q-Tel’s Australian office, in a career that also includes Goldman Sachs and more than a decade as a US Marine Corps officer and attack helicopter pilot.

A spokesperson for Salesforce said they will continue to make new and follow-on investments in the Australian market.

“We will manage our investments from the United States and continue to engage with our 17 portfolio companies and the local startup and venture capital ecosystem,” they said.

Salesforce Ventures is due to make an announcement on leading a round into a local startup on Wednesday.