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Salesforce is shedding its Australian VC arm amid drastic job cuts

Salesforce’s Australian venture capital arm is one of the victims of the tech giant’s massive job cuts, including Mike Ferrari, head of Australia’s Salesforce Ventures.

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 — about 8,000 people — as well as the closure of some offices.

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

Salesforce Ventures ahead 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.” The global investments include Databricks, DocuSign, Stripe and monday.com.

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

Ferrari, a Sydney-based American expatriate, previously ran the CIA-backed venture capital fund In-Q-Tel before signing with Salesforce Ventures in October 2021.

He moved from Silicon Valley to Australia in 2019 to found and co-lead the Australian office of In-Q-Tel, in a career that 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 work with our 17 portfolio companies and the local startup and venture capital ecosystem,” they said.

Salesforce Ventures will make an announcement on Wednesday about leading a round to a local startup.

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