In case you missed the all the glowing profiles of Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff this week, the billionaire's philanthropic efforts have crowned him "the most influential man in San Francisco." And he's wielding that influence to "shame" his rich friends into giving back.
The profiles were pegged to Benioff signing a commercial lease for half the Transbay Tower, a deal that placed the city's largest tech employer inside what will be the city's tallest building. But the thrust of both pieces was Benioff's new role as "the conscience of the city's tech industry."
Benioff has been trying to get other companies to adopt his 1/1/1 pledge to donate their time, equity, and products to charity. More recently, Benioff launched an organization called SF Gives and sought 20 tech companies to give at least $500,000 a piece to fight poverty, reports the San Francisco Business Times:
"We're going to make a list of every company in San Francisco, every tech leader, from the highest revenue and most employees, to the bottom," Benioff promised. "We're going to go right down the list and ask, 'Are you with us or not?'"
Benioff's first stop was consulting investor Ron Conway, who has been trying to rally tech companies through his civic organization Sf.citi. (Previous public works include using his $9.5 million co-op to film a promo video for Mayor Ed Lee.) In the Times, Benioff hangs Sf.citi members out to dry:
"Ron said, 'Marc, this will never work. They won't even pay their dues on Sf.citi,'" said Benioff.
He recruited 13 companies to donate $7.5 million to SF Gives, including Box, Dropbox, Google, Jawbone, LinkedIn, Workday and Zynga as well as Salesforce. But when others refused his colleagues said "Benioff has showed a harder edge in response."
In particular, Benioff said, he was refused by an innovative tech company that has a "huge factory" in the Bay Area but no offices in San Francisco.
"Many different people have turned me down," Benioff acknowledged. "My reaction is, 'Can I quote you in the press on that comment?'" To date, that's a threat he hasn't followed through on.
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