Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is a close friend and supporter of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. But he also thinks it’s her job to stand up for the company and to be held accountable for the overall business.
During an interview with Bloomberg’s Stephanie Ruhle on Tuesday, Benioff said Mayer needs to be “willing to be in the fire” as the CEO of a public company.
“I don’t think you can be critical or judgmental enough of somebody who is going to be a public company CEO. You have to be willing to be in the fire. That’s what you’re standing up for. That’s also why CEOs get paid a little bit more,” Benioff said.
He added, “[Mayer] has a great pay package, she has to be held accountable and that’s where she is right now.”
That doesn’t mean Benioff thinks Mayer is not the right person for the job. He reiterated his admiration for Mayer, noting she’s one of the most “thorough and incredible” people he knows in the business. “I have a lot of confidence in her ability to create a great Yahoo,” he said.
But Benioff later added that, as tough as it is to be a public company CEO, their compensation should be directly linked to the company’s performance.
“If the stock goes up, the CEO should be rewarded, because he’s performing for all shareholders, and all stakeholders. If the stock does not deliver, then the CEO should be removed,” Benioff said.
Benioff’s comments come at a critical time for Yahoo and Mayer. Just yesterday, it was reported that Yahoo’s board was mulling a potential sale of its core internet business, as investors have increasingly grown impatient with Mayer’s performance. Yahoo shares have lost nearly 30% of its value over the past 12 months, though the stock is still trading at more than double its price when Mayer took the reins in 2012.
If anyone deserves to comment on stock price and CEO performance, Benioff does. His company Salesforce has been consistently beating earnings forecasts and its shares are trading at record-high levels, adding nearly 40% in value over the past year.
It’s also worth noting Benioff and Mayer are close friends and strong supporters of each other. The two are part of a monthly dinner that invites startup entrepreneurs, and Mayer has been previously invited to Dreamforce, Salesforce’s big annual conference too. Benioff, in fact, said he’s so confident in Mayer’s ability that he’d hire her in a heartbeat if she left Yahoo.
“She’s amazing. She’s completely magical,” he said.
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