- Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff spearheaded a sprawling effort to source medical gear for US healthcare providers, according to The New York Times.
- The billionaire roped in Alibaba, FedEx, Walmart, and Uber to find and deliver the supplies, and even U2 singer Bono offered to help.
- Benioff’s team spent north of $US25 million to secure more than 50 million pieces of personal protective equipment in 10 days, The New York Times reported.
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Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff launched a massive effort to source medical gear for US healthcare providers that roped in Alibaba, FedEx, Walmart, and Uber, according to The New York Times. Even the rock star and philanthropist Bono offered to lend a hand.
Benioff received a call for help from the University of California, San Francisco on March 19, the newspaper reported. Soaring numbers of coronavirus patients were threatening to exhaust the medical centre’s supplies of masks, gowns, face shields, and swabs.
In the next 10 days, Salesforce spent north of $US25 million to source more than 50 million pieces of protective equipment, The New York Times said. About 15 million pieces have already been delivered to hospitals, medical centres, and states, the newspaper added.
Here are the key highlights from The New York Times story:
- Benioff’s first step was to call Alibaba CEO Danny Zhang, who agreed to help him locate the needed equipment. Salesforce partnered with the Chinese e-commerce titan last year.
- The Salesforce chief charged Ryan Aytay, head of the company’s Quip division, to lead the effort. Aytay refocused his team of 25 people on the mission, and recruited other Salesforce staff.
- Working together, the Salesforce and Alibaba employees identified a Chinese company that had 500,000 surgical masks stockpiled in a Los Angeles warehouse. Aytay agreed to pay $US300,000 for them.
- Benioff phoned FedEx founder Fred Smith, who helped to secure transportation at a discounted rate. The masks were loaded onto FedEx trucks and arrived at UCSF on March 25.
- During a Business Roundtable call on March 27, Benioff invited other executives to help or point him towards hospitals in need. Former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty texted Benioff to alert him to shortages in New York. Within days, a jumbo jet packed with supplies was headed from China to New York.
- The “Maskforce” team suffered setbacks. They sourced 2 million surgical masks from a Shenzhen warehouse, but 1.5 million of them disappeared en route to the airport. “They were sold right off the truck,” Aytay told The New York Times. “It was the Wild Wild West.”
- U2 singer Bono joined a call between Aytay and an Irish supplier, saying that he wanted to help.
- Uber Freight donated four trailer trucks to deliver medical gear to UCSF earlier this month.
- Salesforce, Walmart, and State Farm together bought 1.3 million pieces of protective gear in China and shipped them to Chicago on two planes. Walmart trucks transported the equipment to Michigan and Louisiana.
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