He regularly tells the story of his supposed inspiration for founding Salesforce. Regardless of success at Oracle, the place he labored early in his profession, Mr. Benioff was suffering from existential doubt, prompting him to take a sabbatical to southern India. There, he visited a girl often called “the cuddling saint,” who urged him to share his prosperity.
From the incorporation of Salesforce in 1999, Mr. Benioff pledged that he would dedicate 1 p.c of its fairness and product to philanthropic undertakings, whereas encouraging workers to dedicate 1 p.c of their working time to voluntary efforts. Salesforce workers usually volunteer at faculties, meals banks and hospitals.
“There are only a few examples of corporations doing this at scale,” Mr. Benioff instructed me in an interview. He famous that folks had been at all times speaking to him about one other enterprise identified for its deal with doing good, Ben & Jerry’s. He mentioned this with a chuckle, clearly amused that his firm — now value greater than $200 billion — may very well be in comparison with the growing old Vermont hippies who had introduced the world Cherry Garcia ice cream.
Mr. Benioff is by many indications a real believer, not simply idly parroting Davos Man speaking factors. In 2015, when Indiana proceeded with laws that might have allowed companies to discriminate towards homosexual, lesbian and transgender workers, he threatened to yank investment, forcing a change within the legislation. He shamed Fb and Google for abusing the general public belief and known as for laws on search and social media giants. Early within the pandemic, Salesforce embraced distant work to guard workers.
“I’m attempting to affect others to do the fitting factor,” he instructed me. “I really feel that accountability.”
I discovered myself received over by his boyish enthusiasm, and his willingness to speak at size absent public relations minders — a rarity for Silicon Valley.
His philanthropic efforts have been directed at easing homelessness in San Francisco, whereas increasing well being care for kids. He and Salesforce collectively contributed $7 million towards a successful 2018 campaign for a neighborhood poll measure that levied contemporary taxes on San Francisco corporations to finance expanded applications. The brand new taxes had been prone to value Salesforce $10 million a 12 months.
That appeared like some huge cash, ostensible proof of a socially acutely aware C.E.O. sacrificing the underside line within the curiosity of catering to societal wants. But it surely was lower than a trifle alongside the cash that Salesforce withheld from the federal government via authorized tax subterfuge.