It's been a decade since Salesforce.com's initial public offering, the event that introduced much of the world to the concept of cloud software. Now Salesforce is approaching $4 billion in annual revenue, and is valued at more than $36 billion. The cloud is no longer a niche—it's how companies do business.
Gordon Ritter, one of Salesforce's first financial backers, is using the milestone anniversary of the IPO to reflect on the past 10 years of software innovation and set the stage for the next decade of software as a service, sometimes referred to as "SaaS" for short.
Ritter is a founding partner of Emergence Capital, a Silicon Valley venture firm that got its start around the time Salesforce hit the New York Stock Exchange. Two years earlier, he and his soon-to-be co-founders at Emergence cobbled together $1 million for a stake in Salesforce. The stock has since multiplied by more than 100-fold, and Ritter remains a shareholder.
Emergence is coming off a banner year, having parlayed a $4 million investment in health-care software maker Veeva Systems into a stake worth over $1 billion at the time of its IPO in October. That was a bet on what Ritter calls "industry cloud," or companies that are providing Web-based systems, mobile products and data analysis tools to specific markets. Other examples include PlanGrid for architects and builders, Doximity for doctors, and Plex Systems for manufacturers. Emergence is an investor in Doximity.
Salesforce's platforms are used across industries. Now narrower, more sector-specific software solutions are staking claim on the next phase of growth. "Salesforce led the first 10 years of the cloud—industry focused applications are going to lead the next," venture capitalist Ritter said. They're all "riding the mobile wave," he said.
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