Next week, Marc Benioff’s company, Salesforce.com, turns 15 years old.
He helped invent a a whole new category of tech called “software-as-a-service,” where companies rent their software over the Internet, instead of install it on computers.
The concept almost died at birth. Shortly after Salesforce.com launched, the Internet bubble burst.
Benioff persisted, however, and today every major software company is chasing him.
Along the way, Benioff has become one of the most flamboyant, generous, larger-than-life personalities in the tech industry.
Benioff famously built a huge compound on the island of Hawaii, the state's largest island. It has six bedrooms, seven full and two half bathrooms, and 9,821 square feet of interior space, according to Honolulu Magazine.
He reportedly bought the land for $US12.5 million in 2000 and spent years designing it, even launching his own construction company to build it, reported the Wall Street Journal back in 2006.
He loves Hawaii so much, he used to wear Hawaiian shirts to work. He signs his emails and annual report 'aloha,' and named his golden retriever 'Koa' after a type of Hawaiian tree. Koa has a job title at Salesforce, too: the CLO (chief love officer).
Benioff is a new-age guy who loves yoga and meditation. But he also lives the life of a rock star.
He's been known to hang with: MC Hammer, Richard Branson, David Bowie, Uma Thurman, Colin Powell, Billy Graham, the Dalai Lama, and Zen monks in Kyoto.
When he threw a fund-raiser for President Obama at his San Francisco home, his friend Steve Wonder wrote a special song and sang it at the party, USA Today reported at the time.
Benioff was also invited to Deepak Chopra's daughter's wedding.
Benioff chose San Francisco as the headquarters for Salesforce.com, and he's been a huge advocate for the city ever since.
He donates to charitable causes in the city, and he speaks out against the unfair housing practices that have been fueling the S.F. tech unrest.
He currently lives in the historic Presidio neighbourhood, but has owned homes throughout the city, including a 15,858-square-foot house bought for $US27 million in 2005, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Benioff loves music. Years ago, before Salesforce.com's IPO, he famously rented out the S.F. Giants' stadium and threw a $US250,000 party featuring the B-52s.
His love of big parties continues. Dreamforce, the company's annual conference, is part business meeting part music festival.
It aways includes a huge free concert and a constant series of bands who play on the street in front of the Moscone conference center.
Benioff loves fear-facing adventures like walking across hot coals with Tony Robbins.
In 2012, he invited his friend Robbins to Dreamforce to do a motivational seminar complete with coals.
Earlier that year, Benioff vacationed at a Fiji hotel owned by Robbins where a group of 20 people jumped off a bridge at midnight, plunging 60 feet into a rushing river, Benioff told attendees of TechCrunch Disrupt.
Salesforce.com recently signed an agreement to open a data center in the U.K.
Shortly after, Benioff was invited to dine with Francois Hollande, the president of France, where the two of them clearly struck a deal.
'I'm looking forward to lunch with the president of France. What should I ask him?' Benioff tweeted.
A couple of days later, Salesforce.com announced plans for a data center in France, too.
Benioff is friends with Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Computer. The two are wrist-computer workout buddies, and if Benioff misses too many workouts, Dell will call him and ask about it.
Benioff is a bona-fide gadget geek. He tends to wear not one but two wrist-worn fitness trackers, and loves talking about his Internet-connected toothbrush.
In 1979, at age 15, he founded his first company, Liberty Software, which wrote Atari video games.
He still gets sentimental for those days.
In 2012 he tweeted: 'I miss my Trs-80, Atari, Amiga, and Commodore 64. :). Thankful to have lived through all of this!'
Thanks to his Atari company, Benioff got hired as a teenager by Apple. He worked for Steve Jobs writing software for the Macintosh division. He was there in 1984 during the famous introduction of the Macintosh.
And he was forever inspired by, and friends with, Jobs.
Jobs was his adviser. 'There would be no Salesforce.com without Steve Jobs,' Benioff said at TechCrunch Disrupt last year. 'Many things we created in our company he was the inspiration for, and guided us to.'
The two also shared the same spiritual ideals. Jobs famously trekked to India where he indulged in mediation and psychedelics drugs. Benioff never did drugs, but did turn to meditation to 'straighten myself out a little bit,' he says.
The last gift Steve Jobs ever gave him was a book. Jobs gave it to all the family and friends who attended his memorial, a service that Jobs planned himself.
As everyone left, they were handed a box and inside was a famous book about spiritual growth by Yogananda called the 'Autobiography of a Yogi.'
Benioff said that Jobs' final message was clear: 'Look inside yourself and realise yourself.'
Benioff joined Oracle in his early 20s working for CEO Larry Ellison. The idea for Salesforce.com famously came during a meeting with Ellison. Ellison invested $US2 million as an angel and sat on the board for a while.
But the two had an epic fallout when their companies began to compete.
The most famous episode was when Ellison kicked Benioff out of the keynote spot at Oracle's conference. Benioff gave his keynote anyway, at a nearby hotel.
They have recently reconciled, thanks to a multimillion business deal. But Oracle still thinks of Salesforce as a major competitor.
Marc Benioff is regarded as a visionary.
He helped create a form of cloud computing called software-as-a-service. That's where companies rent software over the Internet instead installing it on their own computers.
By force of will, and plenty of gorilla marketing tactics, Benioff made this market happen. Today all the big software companies are desperate to get into the SaaS game.
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