Trust is the Backbone of Business
Marc Russell Benioff is an American Internet entrepreneur. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, an enterprise cloud computing company.
A lot of people think capitalism is the enemy, or isn't working. What is your opinion?
The antidote to inequality is equality. The question is how do you achieve equality? I believe that for business, which is where I can speak, we have to shift from shareholder maximization to stakeholder maximization. And when we only focus on our shareholders, that's when it becomes very limiting and that's when we can draw fire from other stakeholders.
It's not so unusual for me to have a week of meetings that includes not only my employees, not only my customers, not only media, but could also include principals of local K-12 schools, it could include non-governmental organizations or nonprofit organizations, or members of the community. I have many different stakeholders that I have to answer to.
I view that as a critical part of my business. That's why when I started Salesforce, on day 1, we put 1% of our equity, 1% of our product, and 1% of our time into Salesforce.org.
We're tightly integrated between Salesforce and our community. That's the key. The bigger and more successful Salesforce becomes, the more we'll invest in our public schools, the more we will invest in homeless, the more we will invest in public hospitals, the more we will invest into NGOs.
This is really how I look at it, business is a very important driver of a successful society. Businesses cannot be extricated or disintermediated from the communities they serve. Businesses who do that will do that at their own peril. They will draw fire.
How do you deal with criticism?
I'm grounded in the values of our company. Those values are trust - nothing is more important than the trust of our customers and also employees. Two is growth, and we're a very fast-growing company. Three is innovation, and we're consistently ranked as one of the most innovative companies in the world, and four is equality. These four values are where I ground myself and if I am going to make a comment, or if I'm going to make a statement, I'm really mostly discussing things in those four areas.