One line in particular from San Francisco Chronicle reporter Joe Garofoli’s conversation with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is striking. Nestled within a city that has become synonymous with tech and “big data” in recent years, Benioff insisted, “We don’t want to be the industry that looks like ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’” A cursory search for technology and web start-ups in the San Francisco area on a site like Yelp produces hundreds of pages of results, suggesting that the stereotype is, indeed, rooted in truth.
Compelled by this tendency of tech companies to pursue their ventures in the Bay Area, Benioff is working with the nonprofit Tipping Point to oversee SF Gives, an initiative seeking to raise millions of dollars from tech-related companies to support local anti-poverty efforts. LinkedIn and Google are among the current donors, each of which has been asked to contribute $500,000 to kick off the program. Speaking with SFGate, Benioff reasoned that, “We have to keep a light on this idea that if you come to San Francisco, you need to also be committed to giving back”; SF Gives, by reaching out to some of the most influential individuals in the industry, hopes to encourage firms to build local philanthropy into their models.
As reflected in his interview with San Francisco Magazine, published earlier this week, Benioff believes philanthropic and corporate structures necessarily go hand-in-hand: “When I was at Oracle, I’d have this debate all the time with Larry Ellison, who has been a huge influence on my career. He’d always say, ‘Who do you think has done more for the world: the Ford Foundation or the Ford corporation?’… It took me a few years until I came back to him and said, ‘I’ll tell you the answer to that question. Both.’ ‘Both’ is the answer. There’s not a choice to be made. This is too easy.”
Read this week’s interview between Jon Steinberg and Benioff here, or view last month’s article and slideshow in SFGate.
Relatedly, Nonprofit Quarterly and Bloomberg Businessweek explored the impact of tech companies on the real estate landscape in places like San Francisco.