There are lots of things you could say about Marc Benioff. Like, that he cofounded and runs Salesforce, one of the world’s biggest cloud computing companies. Or that he’s also a book author. Or that, last Halloween, he dressed like a pirate and spent hours handing out candy to kids in his San Francisco neighborhood. (True story.)
Yet Benioff may eventually be better known for his philanthropy and for his social activism.
Consider his “pay as you go” philanthropic approach. Unlike many in the tech world who wait until they retire to be philanthropic, Benioff has made philanthropy at Salesforce a priority from day one, donating more than $100 million in grants to entrepreneurs and nonprofits over the years, as well as giving away its software for free to nearly 30,000 nonprofits. How has he done it? By setting aside one percent of Salesforce’s equity, one percent of its profit in the form of product donations, and one percent of all its employees’ time, and putting it into a 501(c)(3) public charity.
In more recent years, Benioff has also become renowned for his social activism, including speaking very publicly about laws that he believes are discriminatory — and pressuring lawmakers to change their tune or else lose the business of Salesforce and its other friends in tech. He’s even been called a “corporate bully” for it.
He’s also been highly effective. As the WSJ noted in a recent profile, earlier this year he helped “push Georgia’s governor into vetoing that state’s bill that would have let faith-based organizations decline services or fire employees over religious beliefs after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that backed same-sex marriage.”
Benioff helped persuade Indiana’s governor to revise a similar law. And he has been credited with helping to pressure North Carolina’s governor into rolling back some provisions of a recent state law that limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbians, gays and transgender people.
So much of Benioff’s apparent time and energy have been spent on social causes that some critics have begun to ask: Is he as focused on continuing to create shareholder value at Salesforce?
We’re delighted to say that we’ll talk with the legendary CEO about these issues and many more at Disrupt, coming up September 12 through September 14.
Indeed, if you want to learn more about the future that Benioff imagines, and how he plans to make it a reality, you won’t want to miss his appearance. You can grab your tickets here.