Marc Benioff, the co-founder CEO of Salesforce, is one of the highest paid people in tech.
But in his hometown of San Francisco, where a tear-down home can cost $US1 million, he’s not the symbol of gentrification. He’s more like a Robin Hood.
His company, the largest tech employer in San Francisco, is famous for its 1-1-1 model of philanthropy where the company donates 1% of employees’ time, 1% of its profits, and 1% of its equity to charity.
He and his wife are also personally generous. They have donated $US200 million to build a new Children’s Hospital in San Francisco and to support another one in nearby Oakland.
But he looks around and sees a lot of wealthy CEOs not doing their fair share, particularly for the town where they have set up shop. In an interview with Brad Stone of Bloomberg Businessweek, Benioff lobbed these barbs:
- “Our industry has a history of stinginess … We have done a phenomenal job creating value for the world through our technology, but we are not really an industry known for giving that wealth back.”
- On viewing charity as a drag on profits: “We no longer live in a world that can tolerate maximizing shareholder values.”
- On the protests over the “Google buses” that transport high-paid tech workers from homes in San Francisco to their offices elsewhere and have contributed to soaring rents: “I think they have gotten off way too easily, actually. … The tech industry is setting up shop here, and it’s creating a lot of change in the city, and we should all be making sure that we are doing this in the right way.”
- On Bill Gates’ Giving Pledge, in which wealthy people vow to give away their money at the end of their lives, or after they die. “I think we have to give now. I think we have a lot of problems right now that need direct attention, and I don’t want to give any air cover to people who are putting money away to give later.”
So he’s got a new challenge for his peers. He plans to give away $US1 billion of his own money by 2024 and he wants others to meet or beat his generosity.
He particularly wants them to personally help improve something in the Bay Area and to get others to do the same. “That is my goal. I think I can achieve it.”