Marc Benioff, the Founder, Chairman and CEO of the tech juggernaut, Salesforce, is known to have revolutionised the software industry. The company turned to have a net worth of $6.9 billion as of January 2020 and is known as one of the most innovative companies by Forbes.
Benioff was born in San Francisco and was only in high school when he sold his first piece of software called ‘How to Juggle’. At age 15, he founded Liberty Software, making games for the Atari 800 computer. By the age of 16, his income royalties had become $1500 a month, letting him pay for college.
Benioff did a summer internship at Apple as a programmer and when a USC professor suggested he might have business acumen, he took a customer support role at Oracle. After 13 years at Oracle, he sought something new. This led to the birth of Salesforce, the idea behind which was letting people access business apps from the web browser. Salesforce went on to grow tremendously and in June 2004, the company held its IPO, raising $110 million at $11 per share. Benioff also went on to author the book ‘Behind the Cloud,’ a 2009 memoir on Salesforce’s primary success.
One of Benioff’s most admirable qualities as a leader is that he believes that in business, trust is more important than growth. “If you put growth above trust, then all of a sudden you create a toxic culture. People don’t want to work in that environment or use the product,” he says. Another trait that has helped the cloud-computing pioneer grow is meditation, which he says allows him to step back, so that he can create what wants to be, not what was.
The billionaire CEO has also made it to the headlines for his philanthropic work and political contributions. A significant step that Benioff and his wife have taken is starting the Benioff Ocean Initiative at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to study and solve ocean problems around the world. “I strongly believe the business of a business is to improve the world,” he cites.
Benioff has been strongly open on social issues like LGBTQ rights, the harmful effects of social media and gender pay gap. Moreover, he has given $1.7 million to politicians and groups, including a $500,000 contribution to a gun-control group in 2013. However, since late 2018, he is no longer making political contributions.
Benioff is an immensely influential leader and has risen to be a businessman who, while making huge profits, is also making the world a better place. His essential values show in his leadership style. He is a leader with a clear head and the right attitude, who believes in being in the moment.