Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff admonishes tech billionaires of San Francisco to give more and stay connected to their neighbors

Key Points
  • Salesforce CEO, chairman and founder Marc Benioff admonished San Francisco's tech billionaires to give more and stay connected with their city neighbors — not just shareholders.
  • Benioff spoke at Wired's 25th anniversary in San Francisco.
  • The Salesforce chief recently argued with Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey over a proposal to generate money to solve San Francisco's homelessness crisis through taxing big employers there.
Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff speaks at the grand opening of the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco in May 2018.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Salesforce co-CEO and co-founder Marc Benioff called on San Francisco's 70 billionaires and other tech elites to donate more to their own community in an event in the city on Monday.

"San Francisco is amazing," he said. "We have these incredible companies and entrepreneurs, innovation and technology, but we cannot separate ourselves from others. We have to get back to the feeling that we are one, and we are responsible for the city that we are living in and growing our businesses in."

He added, "Homelessness has always been an issue, but not like this. ... We're at a tipping point."

Benioff made the comments at the Wired 25th anniversary summit in San Francisco.

Benioff recently argued with Square and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey over a proposal that will go before San Francisco voters in November, Proposition C. The proposal could lead to new taxes on the largest businesses in San Francisco, where both companies are headquartered, generating money earmarked to solve endemic homelessness in the area.

The Salesforce CEO strongly backed Prop C, even though it could wind up costing his company $10 million in added taxes annually. Dorsey opposed the measure, voicing support for San Francisco Mayor London Breed instead. (Breed also is opposed to Prop C, saying the plan is likely to harm the local economy.)

At the conference, Benioff offered a not-so-veiled criticism of some of his contemporaries in the city.

"There's a group of people in the city who are willing to give. And there's a group of people in the city who don't."

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Benioff, and Salesforce, have donated to a variety of causes, including some $250 million to support hospitals, $11 million to help the homeless, and $50 million to public schools in San Francisco and Oakland.

He lamented that one of every 30 kids in the public schools around San Francisco is homeless. "Imagine being in K-12 and not knowing where you're going to be at night? That's not right in this city."

And then he called on other tech executives to back Prop C, which would impose a .5 percent tax on San Francisco's biggest businesses.

"Philanthropy can only go so far," Benioff said. "I'm the largest employer in the city. I think it's great, and we have to do it. If we don't do it, then it will become a material issue to our business. At what point do we say this is really out of control?"

At the end of August, which marked the second quarter of its 2019 fiscal year, Salesforce reported around $3.3 billion in revenue, beating analysts' expectations.

The company expects revenue of about $13.2 billion this year, and expects that to grow to as much as $23 billion in fiscal 2022.