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Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff: ‘Without Twitter, you wouldn’t have President-elect Trump’

Marc Benioff, chairman and chief executive officer of Salesforce.com.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Marc Benioff, chairman and chief executive officer of Salesforce.com.

Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. You can thank Twitter for that, says Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

"I think it's a great company, I think it's a great CEO. I think it has a huge vision and has a unique position in the world. As evidenced by this election, I think it's more important than ever," Benioff told Recode's Kara Swisher at the Code Enterprise conference in San Francisco Tuesday night. "Without Twitter, I don't think you would have President-elect Trump."

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Benioff was singing Twitter's praises, but not until first explaining why he ultimately decided to pass on making a bid to acquire the social communications company last month. Benioff had looked hard at Twitter as a possible acquisition, and no-commented noisily for a few weeks about the potential deal before ultimately backing away from the idea altogether.

At the time, Benioff just said Twitter wasn't the right fit for Salesforce, flicking at both price and culture as possible hangups. But there was another big issue, Benioff explained: Salesforce's stockholders didn't like the idea. Not one bit.

"In that case, one of my key stakeholders — my shareholders — made it very clear that they wanted me to exit that dream or vision or idea," Benioff explained. "I did. Because I [had] no choice. If anything, I have to be able to listen, and if I wasn't listening then I wouldn't really be the leader that I'm trying to be."

Salesforce's stock had dipped more than 8 percent in just a couple of weeks on the idea that Salesforce might buy Twitter. The news coincided with Salesforce's annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, and Benioff said that feedback he got at the time was troubling.

"That was an uncomfortable meeting that I had at Dreamforce," Benioff said. "I had a really incredible conference then I walked into a room with 200 shareholders and they were like, 'Look, you need to listen more closely to us.' And I agreed."

By Kurt Wagner, Re/code.net.

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