Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Cowardly Attack On Marc Benioff's Philanthropy

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 25, 2013

Benioff

An anonymous (cowardly) post on Valleywag pokes fun at Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, for talking about his philanthropic works at his annual Dreamforce conference.

He is called a “buffoon” because of his “phony philanthropy” and other terrible things, like “lip-service to women.”

How can his millions of dollars contributed to real causes such as building a children’s hospital, be “phony”? It’s real money. So he wants his name on the hospital, so what? It’s standard practice for hospitals, endowments to universities, etc. 

The author is concerned about the 135,000 people that, “paid good money” to come to Dreamforce conference last week to see a “a bloating faux-Buddhist billionaire."

He writes, “I had the bad luck to be sent here by my employer—but at least they paid for my pass, which would’ve cost between $800 and $1,200…”

He paid but he clearly didn’t know that most people didn’t pay because it was free registration for the keynotes and show floor, apart from the technical sessions. The 135,000 people who paid or not, clearly felt it was a good use of their time, and they knew what they were in for.

There’s a lot of good created by Salesforce. Benioff runs San Francisco’s largest and most valuable tech company, [$CRM] at $31.44 billion, with nearly $4 billion in annual revenues, and employing more than 10,000.

In addition, there’s tens of thousands of people employed in the massive ecosystem of consultants, developers, and vendors that rely on Salesforce — it feeds a lot of people.

There’s always an “I” in philanthropy…

This is nothing new at Dreamforce. Benioff loves to show off his philanthropy, and he does it every year, and has been doing it for more than a decade. And everyone loves it, everyone knows what Dreamforce is like, except for this shocked (cowardly) writer.

Dreamforce is embedded into the timeline of San Francisco's annual events. It’s a ritual gathering of sorts and has developed a very positive message in a consistent way. Dreamforce has become a very unique IT industry conference.

It's too bad Benioff has to slap himself on the back, when he should be getting broad recognition for his philanthropic works, and for which he well deserves. 

There’s legions of tech millionaires that don’t do any philanthropy and yet think themselves as god’s gifts to a changing universe. Which is Valleywag’s traditional beat: hypocrisy. And it’s a good beat with plenty of entertaining stuff, but this time, and on this post, it misses the mark by a wide margin. 

If some harmless ego stroking results in millions more for worthwhile charities then I say stroke-on and leave the man alone. 

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