10 Things About Salesforce Founder Marc Benioff

Marc Benioff is the founder of Salesforce, the company that pioneered hosting software in the cloud instead of  installing them in clients’ computer systems. He worked at Oracle early in his career. He was a protégé of Oracle founder Larry Ellison. Benioff is an investor in several tech start-ups. Benioff and his wife are big philanthropists and have donated money to several causes.

10 things about Marc Benioff

1. Benioff was born and raised in California. He graduated from the University of Southern California

Marc Benioff was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area. He attended Burlingame High School. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern California.

2. His interest in software started at a young age

In high school, Benioff created his first software application called “How To Juggle”. He sold it for $75. At age 15, he founded a company, Liberty Software, which made games for Atari 8-bit. Benioff paid his college expenses with the royalties he received from the software.

3. He interned at Apple and joined Oracle after graduating from USC

While studying at the University of Southern California, he interned at Apple but did not return to Apple full-time. Instead, he joined Oracle in their customer service department. In his 13-year career at Oracle, he worked in sales, marketing, and product development. Benioff was the youngest person to become a vice president at Oracle.

4. A career break that revitalized Benioff

Benioff took a career break at age 31. During the 6-month break, he went to India and visited many spiritual leaders. That’s where he met Mata Amritanandamayi (also called Amma). She is known as the “hugging saint” because she hugged everybody she met. Mata Amritanandamayi  convinced him to give back while also pursuing his business ambitions.

5. His radical idea for Salesforce

In 1999, Benioff left Oracle to start Salesforce. Instead of installing software on premises, Salesforce allowed companies to start using software over the internet (SaaS or Software as a Service would become a hot technology 10+ years after Salesforce was founded), which was a radical idea at the time. This allowed customers to access their data on any device and from anywhere in the world as long as they had an internet connection.

In addition to the innovative technology, Salesforce also charged customers a third of what big companies such as Oracle were charging. This gave Salesforce a huge advantage in the market and allowed it to take market share from other companies.

6. Benioff created the 1-1-1 model of philanthropy

Benioff pledged to donate 1% of Salesforce’s revenue, 1% of its product, and 1% of the employee’s time towards charitable activities. Hundreds of companies around the world have picked up the 1-1-1- model and used it successfully.

7. Benioff has won many accolades as a business leader

In 2012, Barron’s named Benioff in the list of “Best CEOs in the World”. In 2014. Fortune magazine readers voted Benioff “Business Person of the Year”. In 2016, Fortune magazine named him in the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.”

8. He is married to Lynne and has two children

Marc Benioff is married to marketing consultant Lynne. Lynne Benioff went to the University of Washington. The Benioffs have  two children and live in San Francisco.

9. Marc and Lynne Benioff are big philanthropists

Over the years, the Benioffs have given hundreds of millions of dollars towards many philanthropic causes. Benioffs have given more than $200 million to the UCSF Children’s Hospital. Benioffs are also environmentalists and have donated millions to plant trees and fund companies that protect the environment.

10. Benioff is a social activist who doesn’t shy away from hot political issues

When states such as Indiana and Georgia tried to pass laws that would discriminate against LGBT individuals, Benioff fought back by threatening to reduce investment in these states. After Texas passed a law that effectively banned abortion in the state, Benioff announced that Salesforce would relocate any employee who wanted to move out of Texas.

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