"Today I talk to so many CEOs, and if I were to give them one piece of advice, it is there's nothing more important than trust that you have with your customers, with your employees, with your partners — with all your key stakeholders. And that's a major transformation in business," Benioff said. "In today's world, you've got to have trust as your highest value."
Benioff has been a big critic of Facebook in the past, saying that he thought social media should be regulated like cigarettes and sugar. The company has come under fire for the proliferation of fake news, election meddling and unauthorized usage of personal data.
The situation is not unlike Uber, which over the past year has changed leadership after accusations of sexism, intellectual property theft and a massive data breach.
Both companies have already taken steps to change course. Facebook has revamped its privacy and advertising settings, shut down fake accounts and audited outside apps, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has fielded hours of questions from regulators. Uber has also come to peace with its board and investors and is in the process of dealing with regulators.
"When you lose trust with your customers — like what we saw with Facebook — well, then you've got to really work hard to build it back," Benioff said. "And, in that case, we have a crisis of trust. We saw that last year here in San Francisco with Uber, as well. These are companies that go through incredible crisis because they have to reboot their values. It's better to look at those values now, before you get to that point of crisis."
Salesforce and Facebook do have at least one thing in common: They make tools that help marketers and advertisers reach new audiences. Nonetheless, Benioff comes out ahead of his peers, at least according to Comparably, which ranked him the best CEO in America thanks to his "consistent voice of company culture issues."
"All of these companies and these CEOs, they could have a moment where they have to go, 'Wow, you know, I was an entrepreneur. Now I'm a leader. I have to move. I have to transform. I have to evolve. I have to go forward,'" Benioff said. "And that's an opportunity for every entrepreneur. They're not running a start-up anymore. They're running a huge company that's so important to the future of our industry, our country, our world. And sometimes it's a little bit of a difficult switch."