Salesforce’s huge customer conference Dreamforce is one of the oddest tech conferences around.
Most companies invite their customers to their conferences to tell them about the new products and services they will offer them, sprinkled with customer testimonials and a nod to the company’s charitable efforts.
Salesforce prefers to talk about its philanthropic efforts, sprinkling in its product demos around that.
To that end, Salesforce had its senior VP of Philanthropy & Engagement, Ebony Frelix, do a huge presentation on how a non-profit organisation called (Red) is trying to end AIDS. (Red) is was founded by rocker Bono and Bobby Shriver and is run by former EMI/Capitol Records exec Deborah Dugan.
(Red) has helped bring medicine to AIDS-stricken villages in Africa and helped to reduce the number of babies born with the deadly disease. In 2005, more than 1,200 babies were born every day with HIV, it says.
Today that number is 400. In addition, the 20-person organisation has saved more than 350 lives of people, some of them orphans, who were stricken with the illness. It taps wealthy corporations and foundations to pay for aids medication these people could not otherwise afford.
Frelix also showed how (Red) was using Salesforce’s products to do its work, and talked about the organisation’s mission.
Enter Bill and Melinda Gates
Then she announced a big fundraising effort at Dreamforce.
For every dollar that Dreamforce attendees raise up to $1 million, Bill and Melinda Gates have promised to double match, she said. In addition Marc and Lynne Benioff have also offered to donate $1 million, no strings attached.
(Red) has a big relationship with the Gates Foundation and has used it with other tech companies. It was the first nonprofit to launch a Global Filter on Snapchat in partnership with the foundation, raising $3 million in one day, it says.
This time, thanks to the Gates Foundation, it can possibility raise $4 million for the organisation at Dreamforce. (And the show has already helped raise about $10 million for Benioff’s main charitable effort, the Bay Area children’s hospitals he’s funded.)
But the involvement of the Gates with Salesforce is especially interesting. The two companies were traditionally pretty hostile. They got briefly friendly but now the relationship between Salesforce and the company Bill Gates founded, Microsoft, is getting increasingly tense.
However, when it comes to philanthropy and social change, Salesforce, the Benioffs and the Gateses seem to see eye-to-eye. In fact. Melinda Gates will be speaking on Wednesday evening at the Dreamforce conference, interviewed by Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts.
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