There are lots of things you could say about Marc Benioff. Like, that he cofounded and runs Salesforce, one of the world’s biggest cloud computing companies. Or that he’s also a book author. Or that, last Halloween, he dressed like a pirate and spent hours handing out candy to kids in his San Francisco neighborhood. (True story.)
Yet Benioff may eventually be better known for his philanthropy and for his social activism.
Benioff’s philanthropic approach is different from many in the tech world who wait until they retire to give. He has made philanthropy at Salesforce a priority from day one by devoting 1% of the company’s equity, product and employee time to communities in which it operates. And by encouraging other founders to do the same with their equity. This has resulted in Salesforce donating more than $120 million in grants to entrepreneurs and nonprofits , and 1.4 million volunteer hours — as well as giving away its software for free to 28,000 NGOs.
In more recent years, Benioff has become renowned for his social activism, too, including speaking very publicly about laws that he believes are discriminatory — and pressuring lawmakers to change their tune or else lose the business of Salesforce and its other friends in tech. He’s even been called a “corporate bully” for it.
He’s also been highly effective. As the WSJ noted in a recent profile, earlier this year he helped “push Georgia’s governor into vetoing that state’s bill that would have let faith-based organizations decline services or fire employees over religious beliefs after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that backed same-sex marriage.”
Benioff helped persuade Indiana’s governor to revise a similar law. And he has been credited with helping to pressure North Carolina’s governor into rolling back some provisions of a recent state law that limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbians, gays and transgender people.
So much of Benioff’s apparent time and energy have been spent on social causes that some critics have begun to ask: Is he as focused on continuing to create shareholder value at Salesforce?
We’re delighted to say that we’ll talk with the legendary CEO about these issues and many more at Disrupt, coming up September 12 through September 14.
Indeed, if you want to learn more about the future that Benioff imagines, and how he plans to make it a reality, you won’t want to miss his appearance. You can grab your tickets here.