- Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff was spotted in the crowd at Ivanka Trump’s keynote speech at CES on Tuesday.
- Benioff and Trump have met at least once before – when she visited Salesforce Tower in Indianapolis last May and spoke at a company event.
- Benioff is outspoken about changes he’d like to see in the tech industry, but he describes himself as “not a Republican or a Democrat.”
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Despite the controversy surrounding Ivanka Trump’s talk at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), it drew at least one high-profile attendee: Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff.
The exec was spotted front row at the event on Tuesday by photographer James Martin:
— James ???? (@Jamesco) January 7, 2020
Trump was invited to give a keynote speech at the annual event – a decision that was almost immediately met with backlash. Gary Shapiro, the head of the Consumer Technology Association and the person interviewing Trump on stage, defended the decision, citing her “great work.”
Tuesday’s speech wasn’t the first time Benioff and Trump have interacted. Last May, Trump visited Salesforce Tower in Indianapolis for an event at which Benioff pledged to train 1 million workers for jobs in the “Salesforce ecosystem.” After the visit, Trump praised Benioff’s commitment on Twitter.
A representative for Benioff declined to comment on his appearance at the talk.
While Benioff is known for being outspoken on social issues, he isn’t known to currently have any political ties. While he did interview former President Barack Obama in November, Benioff told Politico that he’s “not a Republican or a Democrat,” and that he no longer contributes to political campaigns.
In recent months, he’s publicly called for a number of sweeping changes to the tech industry, like breaking up Facebook and levying higher taxes, as well as fixing capitalism as a whole.
While it’s impossible to gauge Benioff’s political allegiance, it is worth pointing out that the CEO is a noted hat aficionado, often donning a fedora for public appearances. Here he is with former President Bill Clinton this past October in a similar (possibly the same!) hat at the one pictured above:
Beyond his hats, Benioff is also known for his flashy sneakers – typically made by Christian Louboutin – which are often Salesforce-inspired.