MuleSoft CEO Wants to Build the ‘Salesforce of Software Integration’

March 17, 2017, 6:04 PM UTC

MuleSoft CEO Greg Schott has high hopes for his business software firm, which debuted as a publicly traded company on Friday. His goal: Follow in the footsteps of Salesforce by defining a major category of enterprise technology.

Shares in MuleSoft(MULE), which helps businesses connect different kinds of software and data, started trading this morning at $24.25 after pricing at $17 in the initial public offering. Shares then soared more than 42% to $24.90 or 47% above the IPO price.

“I was always impressed with what Salesforce (CRM) has done and how it’s turned CRM into a platform,” Schott told Fortune in an interview on Friday.

CRM, or customer relationship management software, is used by salespeople to find and track leads to better close deals. Salesforce’s flagship sales software is used by tens of thousands of companies.

In Schott’s view, Salesforce basically created a software category. “If you look back, Salesforce didn’t really compete with Siebel, it competed with people using Excel or other spreadsheets to do that job,” he said, referring to Siebel Systems, a CRM vendor that was acquired by Oracle (ORCL).

Schott also cited ServiceNow (NOW), which automates business processes; and Workday (WDAY)which sells financial and human resources software, as two other corporate role models.

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San Francisco-based MuleSoft’s software works both on-premises in customer data centers or in the cloud to help corporate users tie together different applications. The company has more than 1,000 customers including Coca-Cola (KO), McDonald’s (MCD), music streaming service Spotify, Unilever (UL), and, yes Salesforce.

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“Every company is now defined by the software, which is composed of a huge array of applications, data, and devices,” Schott said. “If you click the order button on a website, it’s not just the mobile app, it’s the back-end warehouse, the inventory, the shipping system. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of applications in that chain.”

MuleSoft’s software sits in the middle to connect all those data sources, much as an AT&T or Verizon network sits in the middle so people can make calls on their smartphones, he added.

For all of MuleSoft’s claims about building a category, there is no shortage of rivals: It competes with products from companies like IBM (IBM), Tibco (TIBX), as well as some from new-ish companies like Azuqua, SnapLogic, and Zapier that focus solely on connecting cloud-based software.

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