Marc Benioff

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Marc Benioff
Marc Benioff 2013.jpg
Benioff at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2013
Born (1964-09-25) September 25, 1964 (age 53)
San Francisco, California
Alma mater University of Southern California
Occupation Founder of Salesforce
Organization Salesforce
Net worth Increase US$4.4 billion (June 2017)[1]
Spouse(s) Lynne (Krilich) Benioff

Marc Russell Benioff (born September 25, 1964) is an American internet entrepreneur, author and philanthropist. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, an enterprise cloud computing company.[2] As of March 2016, he owns approximately $3 billion worth of Salesforce shares.[3] 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.”[4]

Benioff 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.[5]

Benioff is a noted philanthropist. In 2000, he established the “1-1-1 model,” whereby the company contributes one percent of product, one percent of equity, and one percent of employee hours back to the communities it serves globally.[6] As of March 2016, has delivered more than $115 million in grants, 1.3 million employee volunteer hours and powered 28,000 nonprofits with Salesforce technology.[7] More than 700 companies have adopted the 1-1-1 model through the Pledge 1% movement.[8] Benioff and his wife, Lynne, have focused their personal philanthropy on improving public education and advancing children’s health care through UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, at the University of California, San Francisco.[9][10]

As CEO of Salesforce, he has addressed social causes such as equal pay for women,[11] as well as leading efforts by business leaders to publicly oppose legislation in Indiana[12] and Georgia[13] that would allow discrimination against LGBT communities.

He is the author of three books, including the national best seller, Behind the Cloud.[14]

Early life and education[edit]

Benioff was raised in a Jewish family[15][16] in the San Francisco metropolitan area.[17] He graduated from Burlingame High School in 1982.[18] 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.[19][20]


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 for the Atari 8-bit computer among others.[21][22] Epyx published his King Arthur's Heir, The Nightmare, Escape from Vulcan's Isle, and Crypt of the Undead,[23][24] and by 16 Benioff was earning royalties of $1,500 a month, enough to pay for college.[22]

During his time at USC he had internships as an assembly language programmer at the Macintosh division of Apple Computer, where he was inspired by the company and its co-founder, Steve Jobs.[25]

Benioff expected to continue programming after college, but USC professors advised him to obtain customer-oriented work experience and Benioff joined Oracle Corporation after graduation in a customer-service role.[22] Prior to founding Salesforce, he 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.[26]

Influence and honors[edit]

Benioff has been widely recognized for his visionary leadership and pioneering innovations. 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.[27] He was also named Businessperson of the Year by Fortune readers,[28] one of the Best CEOs in the World by Barron’s,[29] and he received The Economist’s Innovation Award.[30] 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.[31]

Salesforce has been named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies five years in a row by Forbes Magazine.[32][33][34][35][36] Fortune Magazine named Salesforce as the World’s Most Admired Company in the software industry four years in a row,[37] and named the company a Best Place to Work eight years in a row.[38]

Benioff received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Southern California on May 16, 2014.[39]

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.[40]


Benioff 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.[41] Parts of this 1-1-1 model have been adopted by more than 700 companies,[42] including Google.[43] In 2005, the members of the World Economic Forum named him as one of its Young Global Leaders.[44] In 2007, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy presented Benioff with the Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy Award [45] and in 2008 invited him to become a director of the board.[46]

In June 2010, Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne 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.[47] The Benioffs have been recognized as top philanthropists by Forbes' America's 50 Top Giver list in 2015[48] and the Chronicle of Philanthropy's Philanthropy 50 list in 2010,[49] 2014 [50] and 2015.[51]

In 2014, Marc and Lynne Benioff donated another $100 million to UCSF and Oakland Children's Hospital (both now called Benioff Children's Hospitals).[52] 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[53].

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."[54]

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.[55]

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.[56] 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 passing an amendment to the bill containing protections for LGBT customers, tenants and employees.[57]

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.[58] A month later, the Governor vetoed the bill.[59]

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.[60] 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.[61]


Benioff supported Hillary Clinton for President of the United States in the 2016 presidential election.[62]


  • 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)


  1. ^ Forbes: The World's Billionaires - Marc Benioff April 2014
  2. ^ Forbes: "The Best Enterprise Software Companies and CEOs to Work For in 2014" By Louis Columbus March 18, 2014
  3. ^ Benioff Marc Insider Trading - SALESFORCE COM INC
  4. ^ Salesforce Blog: "Marc Benioff: How to Turn a Simple Idea into a High-Growth Company" By Marc Benioff March 8, 2013
  5. ^ USA Today: "Salesforce CEO leads charge against software" By Jack Gruber July 24, 2007
  6. ^ "About Us"
  7. ^ " Announces Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA), Providing the Foundation for the Connected Campus"
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital: "Benioffs Donate $100 Million for New Hospital"
  10. ^ UCSF News Center: "UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital Oakland Receive $100M Gift From Lynne And Marc Benioff" April 8, 2014
  11. ^ Fortune: "Salesforce Spent $3 Million to Close the Gender Pay Gap. Here's Why That's a Big Deal" By Kristen Bellstrom November 7, 2015
  12. ^ The Huffington Post: "The CEO Who Took On Indiana’s Anti-LGBT Law — And Won" By Alexander C. Kaufman April 7, 2015
  13. ^ Fortune: "Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Battles Georgia Over Gay Rights" By Jonathan Vanian February 26, 2016
  14. ^ Amazon: "Books by Marc R. Benioff"
  15. ^ Jerusalem Post: "Jews take 5 of top 6 spots in annual list of top US givers" By JACOB BERKMAN September 2, 2011
  16. ^ Jewish Philanthropy: "Jewish Philanthropy 2.0" February 23, 2011
  17. ^ Business Insider: "The rise of Marc Benioff, the flashy billionaire founder of Salesforce" by Matt Weinberger March 17, 2016
  18. ^ San Francisco Gate: "Marc Benioff, CEO, makes philanthropy a priority" by Casey Newton July 24, 2011
  19. ^ LinkedIn
  20. ^ [2]
  21. ^ Developers Conference keynote, May 21, 2007
  22. ^ 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. 
  23. ^ "Epyx Adventures Weigh In". Softline. March 1983. pp. 42–43. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  24. ^ "The Players Guide to Fantasy Games". Electronic Games. June 1983. p. 47. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  25. ^ Newton, Casey (August 28, 2011). "Apple all-star alumni recall Steve Jobs' lessons". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  26. ^ Carlye Adler, The Fresh Prince of Software. FSB: Fortune Small Business. March 1, 2003. (retrieved on 7/7/09)
  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. ^ LinkedIn
  32. ^ Forbes: "The World's Most Innovative Companies 2015"
  33. ^ Forbes: "The World's Most Innovative Companies 2014"
  34. ^ Forbes: "The World's Most Innovative Companies 2013"
  35. ^ Forbes: "The World's Most Innovative Companies 2012"
  36. ^ Salesforce Blog: " named the World's Most Innovative Company by Forbes Magazine"
  37. ^ Fortune: "World's Most Admired Companies"
  38. ^ Fortune: "100 Best Companies to Work For"
  39. ^ USC University of Southern California: "USC's Commencement History"
  40. ^ "Salesforce CEO Benioff discussed women's pay with Trump at White House meeting". CNBC. March 17, 2017. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  41. ^ Forbes: "Talking Philanthropy With Marc Benioff" By Bruce Upbin September 18, 2012
  42. ^ Pledge 1%
  43. ^ Salesforce Blog: "Will You Pledge 1% on #GivingTuesday?" By Naomi Morenzoni December 2, 2014
  44. ^ Salesforce "Marc Benioff Selected As One of 237 Exceptional Leaders to Participate In New Major Global Undertaking to Shape The Future"
  45. ^ PR Newswire: " Foundation Honored by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy With the 7th Annual Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy Award"
  46. ^ The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy: "10th Anniversary Program"
  47. ^ UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital: "Benioffs Donate $100 Million for New Hospital"
  48. ^ Forbes: America's 50 Top Givers"
  49. ^ The Chronicle of Philanthropy "No. 10 (tied): Marc R. and Lynne Benioff"
  50. ^ The Chronicle of Philanthropy: "Young Tech Donors Take Leading Role in Philanthropy 50" By Alex Daniels and Maria Di Mento February 8, 2015
  51. ^ 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
  52. ^ UCSF News Center: "UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital Oakland Receive $100M Gift From Lynne And Marc Benioff" April 8, 2014
  53. ^, 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. 
  54. ^ Behind the Cloud
  55. ^ The Huffington Post: "Businesses Are the Greatest Platforms for Change" By Marc Benioff January 18, 2016
  56. ^ indiana Business Journal: "Salesforce CEO: We're canceling travel to Indiana" By Jared Council March 26, 2015
  57. ^ The Huffington Post: "The CEO Who Took On Indiana’s Anti-LGBT Law — And Won" By Alexander C. Kaufman April 7, 2015
  58. ^ Fortune: "Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Battles Georgia Over Gay Rights" By Jonathan Vanian February 26, 2016
  59. ^ Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "BREAKING: Nathan Deal vetoes Georgia’s ‘religious liberty’ bill" By Greg Bluestein April 9, 2016
  60. ^ The Huffington Post: "Salesforce CEO Takes Radical Step To Pay Men And Women Equally" By Emily Peck April 23, 2015
  61. ^ The White House YouTube Channel: "Lilly Ledbetter Anniversary Event"
  62. ^ "Hillary Clinton racks up business endorsements". Politico. July 23, 2016. 

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