Marc Benioff

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Marc Benioff
Marc Benioff 2013.jpg
Benioff at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2013
Marc Russell Benioff

(1964-09-25) September 25, 1964 (age 54)
Alma materUniversity of Southern California
OccupationBusinessman and Internet Entrepreneur
Known forFounder and owner of Salesforce
Net worthUS$6.7 billion (September 2018)[1]
Spouse(s)Lynne (Krilich) Benioff

Marc Russell Benioff (born September 25, 1964) is an American Internet entrepreneur, author and philanthropist with a net worth of $6.4 billion as of December 2018. He is the founder, chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce, an enterprise cloud computing company.[2] As of November 2018, he owned approximately $2.58 billion worth of Salesforce shares.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Benioff was raised in a Jewish family[4][5] long established[6] in the San Francisco Bay Area.[7] He graduated from Burlingame High School in 1982.[8] Benioff received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Southern California in 1986, where he was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.[9][10]

Marc is a distant cousin of showrunner and television producer David Benioff.[11] He is married to Lynne Benioff and has two children. The family lives in San Francisco, California.[2]


While still in high school, Benioff sold his first application, How to Juggle, for $75. At 15 years old, he founded Liberty Software, creating and selling games such as Flapper for the Atari 8-bit.[12][13][14] Epyx published his King Arthur's Heir, The Nightmare, Escape from Vulcan's Isle, and Crypt of the Undead,[15][16] and by 16, Benioff was earning royalties of $1,500 a month, enough to pay for college.[14]

While at USC, Benioff had internships as an assembly language programmer at the Macintosh division of Apple Computer.[17] He expected to continue programming after college, but USC professors advised Benioff to obtain customer-oriented work experience and he joined Oracle Corporation after graduation in a customer-service role.[14] Prior to founding Salesforce, Benioff was at Oracle for 13 years in a variety of executive positions in sales, marketing, and product development. At 23, he was named Oracle's Rookie of the Year and three years later, he was promoted to vice president, the company's youngest person to hold that title.[18]

Benioff founded Salesforce in March 1999 in a rented San Francisco apartment and defined its mission in a marketing statement as "The End of Software."[19] He has long evangelized software as a service as the model that would replace traditional enterprise software. He is the creator of the term "platform as a service" and has extended Salesforce's reach by allowing customers to build their own applications on the company's architecture or in the Salesforce cloud.[20]

On September 16, 2018 Marc and his wife Lynne bought Time for $190m.[21]

Influence and honors[edit]

Benioff during the WEF 2013

In 2009, the members of the World Economic Forum named him as one of its Young Global Leaders.[22]

In 2016, he was named one of Fortune's 50 World's Greatest Leaders for his commitment to equality for all and other social issues as CEO.[23] He was also named Businessperson of the Year by Fortune readers,[24] one of the Best CEOs in the World by Barron's,[25] and he received The Economist's Innovation Award.[26] He served as co-chairman of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee from 2003–2005. Benioff is also a member of the World Economic Forum Board of Trustees.[9]

Salesforce has been named one of the World's Most Innovative Companies five years in a row by Forbes Magazine.[27][28][29][30][31] Fortune Magazine named Salesforce as the World's Most Admired Company in the software industry four years in a row,[32] and named the company a Best Place to Work eight years in a row.[33]

Benioff received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Southern California on May 16, 2014.[34]

On March 17, 2017, Benioff was included in a business leaders' symposium organized by the Trump Administration during German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to the White House.[35]


The Salesforce Foundation[edit]

Marc Benioff in 2009

Benioff is a Chairman of Foundation which was established in 2000 as a public charity.[36] He created the 1-1-1 model of integrated corporate philanthropy, by which companies contribute 1 percent of equity, 1 percent of employee hours and 1 percent of product back to the communities it serves.[37][38][39] Parts of this 1-1-1 model have been adopted by more than 700 companies,[40] including Google.[41]

In 2007, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy presented Benioff with the Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy Award[42] and in 2008 invited him to become a director of the board.[43]

As of March 2016, has delivered more than $115 million in grants, 1.3 million employee volunteer hours and is used by 28,000 non-profit organisations with Salesforce technology.[44] More than 700 companies have adopted the 1-1-1 model through the Pledge 1% movement.[45]

In 2018 and United Way created Philanthropy Cloud, a global platform that connects employees, customers and partners with charities and gives them ability to streamline philanthropic investments and real-time reporting.[46][47]

Benioff credits Mata Amritanandamayi with inspiring his philanthropic business models, stating "But the most pivotal meeting for me was with Mata Amritanandamayi... It was she who introduced me to the idea, and possibility, of giving back to the world while pursuing my career ambitions. I realized that I didn't have to make a choice between doing business and doing good. I could align these two values and strive to succeed at both simultaneously."[48]

Private Donations[edit]

Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne have been recognized as top philanthropists by Forbes' America's 50 Top Giver list in 2015[49] and the Chronicle of Philanthropy's Philanthropy 50 list in 2010,[50] 2014[51] and 2015.[52]

In June 2010, they announced a $100-million gift to UCSF Children's Hospital with the goal of not only seeing the new hospital built but significantly advancing children's healthcare worldwide.[53][54]

In 2014, Marc and Lynne Benioff donated another $100 million to UCSF and Oakland Children's Hospital (both now called Benioff Children's Hospitals).[54] Marc and Lynne Benioff have also donated to The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organization developing technologies to rid the world's oceans of plastic.[55]

Social activist platforms[edit]

Benioff has said that businesses are the greatest platforms for change in the world. He follows the World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab's multistakeholder approach to leadership, which says that leaders should serve not only their shareholders but all stakeholders, including customers, employees, partners, communities and the environment, to make the world a better place.[56]

In March 2015, Benioff announced Salesforce would cancel all employee programs and travel in the state of Indiana after the passing of SB 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a controversial bill which would allow companies and individuals to deny service to LGBT individuals based on religious beliefs.[57] As the largest tech employer in Indiana (following the 2013 acquisition of ExactTarget), Benioff led a global effort of business leaders fighting back against the legislation, ultimately leading to the Indiana State Legislature's passing an amendment to the bill containing protections for LGBT customers, tenants and employees.[58]

Benioff led a similar movement in February 2016 against Georgia's HB 757, the First Amendment Defense Act. He announced that Salesforce would reduce investments in Georgia and cancel an annual conference if the bill was passed as-is.[59] A month later, the Governor vetoed the bill.[60]

In April 2015, Benioff announced that he would be reviewing all salaries at Salesforce to ensure men and women were being paid equally for comparable work.[61] On the heels of the salary assessment, Benioff joined President Barack Obama in January 2016 as he celebrated the anniversary of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and renewed his call on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.[62]

In March 2018, Benioff announced that he would be donating $1 million to March for Our Lives.[63] In the announcement, Benioff wrote, "Motivated to join the many who are passionate about the safety of all kids and I'll give $1 million to March For Our Lives. Together all of us can make children's health and safety our number one priority. Join us and March on March 24th."

In an October 2018 interview with The Guardian, Benioff criticized other technology industry executives for "hoarding" their money and refusing to help homeless people in the San Francisco Bay area. With reference to a pending bill that would increase gross receipts tax by 0.5%, Benioff stated “This is a critical moment where I think Prop C kind of illuminates who is willing to be a San Franciscan and actually support our local services.”[64]


Benioff supported Hillary Clinton for President of the United States in the 2016 presidential election.[65] He was included in ZDNet's 2017 list of "21 other CEOs we'd like to see run for president".[66]


  • Compassionate Capitalism: How Corporations Can Make Doing Good an Integral Part of Doing Well with Karen Southwick (2004)
  • The Business of Changing the World: 20 Great Leaders on Strategic Corporate Philanthropy with Carlye Adler (2006)
  • Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company and Revolutionized an Industry with Carlye Adler (2009)


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  2. ^ a b "Marc Benioff". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  3. ^ Benioff Marc Insider Trading - SALESFORCE COM INC
  4. ^ Jerusalem Post: "Jews take 5 of top 6 spots in annual list of top US givers" By JACOB BERKMAN September 2, 2011
  5. ^ Jewish Philanthropy: "Jewish Philanthropy 2.0" February 23, 2011
  6. ^ Financial Times: "Why can't San Francisco's tech culture solve the city's social problems?" By Tom Braithwaite December 1, 2017
  7. ^ Business Insider: "The rise of Marc Benioff, the flashy billionaire founder of Salesforce" by Matt Weinberger March 17, 2016
  8. ^ He was also part of MAchar AZA #1887 in the organization BBYO San Francisco Gate: "Marc Benioff, CEO, makes philanthropy a priority" by Casey Newton July 24, 2011
  9. ^ a b "LinkedIn". Retrieved 19 September 2018.
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  11. ^ Bort, Julie (April 12, 2015). "How these famous Benioffs are related". Business Insider. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  12. ^ Duberman, David (January 1984). "ROM Fun: Survey of recent cartridge games". Antic. pp. 62–63.
  13. ^ Developers Conference keynote, May 21, 2007
  14. ^ a b c Benioff, Marc; Adler, Carlyle (2009). Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-and Revolutionized an Industry. John Wiley & Sons. pp. xviii–xx. ISBN 9780470535929.
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  16. ^ "The Players Guide to Fantasy Games". Electronic Games. June 1983. p. 47. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
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  20. ^ USA Today: "Salesforce CEO leads charge against software" By Jack Gruber July 24, 2007
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  34. ^ "USC's Commencement History - About USC". Retrieved 19 September 2018.
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  51. ^ The Chronicle of Philanthropy: "Young Tech Donors Take Leading Role in Philanthropy 50" By Alex Daniels and Maria Di Mento February 8, 2015
  52. ^ The Chronicle of Philanthropy: "Bequests Put Conservative Billionaire Richard Scaife Atop List of America's 50 Biggest Donors" By Maria Di Mento and Drew Lindsay February 9, 2016
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  54. ^ a b UCSF News Center: "UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, Children's Hospital Oakland Receive $100M Gift From Lynne And Marc Benioff" April 8, 2014
  55. ^, The Ocean Cleanup,. "The Ocean Cleanup Raises 21.7 Million USD in Donations to Start Pacific Cleanup Trials". The Ocean Cleanup. Retrieved 2017-07-14.
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  57. ^ indiana Business Journal: "Salesforce CEO: We're canceling travel to Indiana" By Jared Council March 26, 2015
  58. ^ The Huffington Post: "The CEO Who Took On Indiana's Anti-LGBT Law — And Won" By Alexander C. Kaufman April 7, 2015
  59. ^ Fortune: "Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Battles Georgia Over Gay Rights" By Jonathan Vanian February 26, 2016
  60. ^ Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "BREAKING: Nathan Deal vetoes Georgia's 'religious liberty' bill" By Greg Bluestein April 9, 2016
  61. ^ The Huffington Post: "Salesforce CEO Takes Radical Step To Pay Men And Women Equally" By Emily Peck April 23, 2015
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  65. ^ "Hillary Clinton racks up business endorsements". Politico. July 23, 2016.
  66. ^ "21 other CEOs we'd like to see run for president".

External links[edit]