Marc Benioff

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Marc Benioff
Marc Benioff 2015.jpg
Benioff in 2015
Marc Russell Benioff

(1964-09-25) September 25, 1964 (age 57)
EducationUniversity of Southern California (BS)
Known forFounder, chairman and CEO, Salesforce
Owner, Time
Spouse(s)Lynne Krilich

Marc Russell Benioff (born September 25, 1964) is an American internet entrepreneur, with a net worth of $10.4 billion as of October 2021.[1] He is the founder, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, an enterprise cloud computing company.[2] As of June 2021, Benioff had an estimated net worth of US$9.53 billion according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him the 266th wealthiest person in the world.[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, where he was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, in 1986.[9][10]

Marc is a second cousin of showrunner and television writer David Benioff. The two share a great-grandfather, Isaac, but had never met until the 2015 Game of Thrones premiere gala held in San Francisco.[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 gain experience in customer-oriented work and he joined Oracle Corporation in a customer-service role after graduating.[14] Benioff worked at Oracle for 13 years in a variety of sales, marketing, and product development roles before founding Salesforce.[1] At 23, he was named Oracle's Rookie of the Year. Three years later he became the youngest person in the company's history to earn promotion to the title of vice president.[18]

Before starting his company, Mata Amritanandamayi, a Hindu guru, and Colin Powell were critical mentors for him.[19][20]

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."[21] This was a slogan he used frequently to preach about software on the Web, and used as a guerilla marketing tactic against the dominant CD-ROM CRM competitor Siebel at the time.[22] He hired and planted fake protestors and a fake news team, Channel 22, at Siebel's conference in 1999.[23] 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.[24]

On September 16, 2018, Marc and his wife Lynne bought Time for $190m.[25]

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.[26]
  • In 2016, Fortune magazine named him one of the World's 50 Greatest Leaders for his commitment to equality for all and other social issues as CEO.[27]
  • He was also named Businessperson of the Year by Fortune readers.[28]
  • He was named one of the Best CEOs in the World by Barron's.[29]
  • He received The Economist's Innovation Award.[30]
  • He served as co-chairman of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee from 2003 to 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.[31][32][33][34][35]
  • Fortune Magazine named Salesforce as the World's Most Admired Company in the software industry four years in a row,[36] and named the company a Best Place to Work eight years in a row.[37]
  • Benioff received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Southern California on May 16, 2014.[38]
  • In 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.[39]
  • He was elected as a member into the National Academy of Engineering in 2019 "for leadership in cloud computing and corporate philanthropy."[40]


Marc Benioff in 2009
  • Benioff is a Chairman of Foundation, a charity established in 2000, and 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 community.[41]
  • Benioff and his wife, Lynne, have been recognized as top philanthropists by Forbes' America's 50 Top Giver list in 2015[42] and the Chronicle of Philanthropy's Philanthropy 50 list in 2010,[43] 2014[44] and 2015.[45]
  • In June 2010, they announced a $100-million gift to UCSF Children's Hospital.[46][47]
  • In 2014, Marc and Lynne Benioff donated another $100 million to UCSF and Oakland Children's Hospital (both now called Benioff Children's Hospitals).[47]
  • In May 2019, Marc and Lynne Benioff donated $30 million to the Center for Vulnerable Populations for the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative to study the impact of homelessness, housing, and health.[48]
  • In November 2019, Benioff donated $900,000 to Team Trees.[49][50]
  • In October 2020, Marc and Lynne Benioff were named as one of the alliance partners of Prince William's Earthshot Prize to find solutions to environmental issues.[51]

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 stakeholder 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.[52]
  • 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 choose not to serve LGBT individuals based on religious beliefs.[53] 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 forcing companies and individuals to service LGBT customers.[54]
  • 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.[55] A month later, the Governor vetoed the bill.[56]
  • 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.[57] 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.[58]
  • In March 2018, Benioff announced that he would be donating $1 million to March for Our Lives.[59] 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."[60]
  • 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.”[61]


Benioff supported Hillary Clinton for President of the United States in the 2016 presidential election.[62] He was included in the ZDNet's 2017 list of "21 other CEOs we'd like to see run for president".[63]


  • 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)
  • Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change (2019)


  1. ^ a b "The rise of Marc Benioff, the bombastic Salesforce CEO and owner of Time Magazine, who has a $6.5 billion fortune and owns a 5-acre compound in Hawaii". Wired. Business Insider. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Marc Benioff". Forbes. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  3. ^ "Bloomberg Billionaires Index: Marc Benioff". Bloomberg. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  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 September 19, 2018.
  10. ^ "2014 USC Commencement Speaker Marc Benioff". Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  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.
  15. ^ "Epyx Adventures Weigh In". Softline. March 1983. pp. 42–43. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  16. ^ "The Players Guide to Fantasy Games". Electronic Games. June 1983. p. 47. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  17. ^ Newton, Casey (August 28, 2011). "Apple all-star alumni recall Steve Jobs' lessons". San Francisco Chronicle.
  18. ^ Carlye Adler, The Fresh Prince of Software. FSB: Fortune Small Business. March 1, 2003. (retrieved on 7/7/09)
  19. ^ "Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff explains why a Hindu guru and Colin Powell were critical mentors". Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  20. ^ "The Gospel of Wealth According to Marc Benioff". Wired – via
  21. ^ Salesforce Blog: "Marc Benioff: How to Turn a Simple Idea into a High-Growth Company" By Marc Benioff March 8, 2013
  22. ^ "The Marketing Genius of Marc Benioff". ViralWeGrow. December 6, 2020. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  23. ^ Jiang, Daniel. "The Marketing Genius Of Marc Benioff". Viral We Grow.
  24. ^ USA Today: "Salesforce CEO leads charge against software" By Jack Gruber July 24, 2007
  25. ^ "Time Magazine Is Bought by Marc Benioff, Salesforce Billionaire". September 16, 2018.
  26. ^ "World Economic Forum Announces New Batch Of Young Global Leaders (Mark Zuckerberg, Chad Hurley, Kevin Rose And More)". TechCrunch. February 25, 2009.
  27. ^ Fortune: "The World's 50 Greatest Leaders" By Geoff Colvin March 25, 2016
  28. ^ Fortune: "Vote: Businessperson of the Year - Championship Round" By Fortune Editors November 12, 2014
  29. ^ Barron's: "World's Best CEOs" By Andrew Bary March 26, 2012
  30. ^ The Economist: "And the winners were..." By The Economist Staff December 1, 2012
  31. ^ "The World's Most Innovative Companies". Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  32. ^ "1.". Forbes. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  33. ^ Communications, Forbes Corporate. "Forbes Announces Third Annual List Of The World's 100 Most Innovative Companies". Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  34. ^ Barret, Victoria. "Why Ranks #1 On Forbes Most Innovative List". Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  35. ^ " named the "World's Most Innovative Company" by Forbes Magazine". Salesforce Blog. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  36. ^ "The World's Most Admired Companies for 2018". Fortune. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  37. ^ "100 Best Companies to Work For 2018". Fortune. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  38. ^ "USC's Commencement History - About USC". Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  39. ^ "Salesforce CEO Benioff discussed women's pay with Trump at White House meeting". CNBC. March 17, 2017. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  40. ^ "National Academy of Engineering Elects 86 Members and 18 Foreign Members". NAE Website. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  41. ^ "Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff: The big giver". CNET. July 26, 2014.
  42. ^ "America's Top Givers of 2016". Forbes. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  43. ^ "No. 10 (tied): Marc R. and Lynne Benioff". February 6, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  44. ^ The Chronicle of Philanthropy: "Young Tech Donors Take Leading Role in Philanthropy 50" By Alex Daniels and Maria Di Mento February 8, 2015
  45. ^ 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
  46. ^ "Benioffs Donate $100 Million for New Hospital - UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital". Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  47. ^ 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
  48. ^ "UCSF Launches New Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative with $30M Gift". UCSF Launches New Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative with $30M Gift | UC San Francisco.
  49. ^ Leskin, Paige (November 10, 2019). "YouTuber MrBeast's tree-planting campaign reached its goal of raising $20 million. Here's the list of prominent people who have donated, including Elon Musk, Jeffree Star, and even the CEO of YouTube". Business Insider Australia. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  50. ^ MrBeast [@MrBeastYT] (November 6, 2019). "Marc Benioff just planted 900,000 trees and brought us over 14 million!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE ARE SO CLOSE!" (Tweet). Retrieved November 19, 2019 – via Twitter.
  51. ^ "'Next 10 years are critical': Prince William backs £50m climate change project Earthshots". The National. Retrieved October 13, 2020.
  52. ^ The Huffington Post: "Businesses Are the Greatest Platforms for Change" By Marc Benioff January 18, 2016
  53. ^ indiana Business Journal: "Salesforce CEO: We're canceling travel to Indiana" By Jared Council March 26, 2015
  54. ^ The Huffington Post: "The CEO Who Took On Indiana's Anti-LGBT Law — And Won" By Alexander C. Kaufman April 7, 2015
  55. ^ Fortune: "Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Battles Georgia Over Gay Rights" By Jonathan Vanian February 26, 2016
  56. ^ Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "BREAKING: Nathan Deal vetoes Georgia's 'religious liberty' bill" By Greg Bluestein April 9, 2016
  57. ^ The Huffington Post: "Salesforce CEO Takes Radical Step To Pay Men And Women Equally" By Emily Peck April 23, 2015
  58. ^ The White House (January 28, 2016). "Lilly Ledbetter Anniversary Event". Retrieved September 19, 2018 – via YouTube.
  59. ^ "Marc Benioff on Twitter". March 14, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  60. ^ "Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff pledges $1,000,000 donation to March for Our Lives". The Mercury News. March 12, 2018. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  61. ^ Levin, Sam (October 17, 2018). "Salesforce CEO: tech billionaires 'hoard their money' and won't help homeless" – via
  62. ^ "Hillary Clinton racks up business endorsements". Politico. July 23, 2016.
  63. ^ "21 other CEOs we'd like to see run for president 7 - Page 7". ZDNet.

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