Marc Benioff

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“Learning how to interact with customers is something that anyone starting any business must master. It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to learn the ropes at an established company and then employ your expertise at your own company.”


Marc Russell Benioff (born September 25, 1964) is an American internet entrepreneur, author and philanthropist. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of, a cloud computing company. As of February 2015, he owns approximately $3 billion worth of Salesforce shares,[3] although the company has never reported a profit.

Benioff started in March 1999 in a rented San Francisco apartment[4] and defined its mission as The End of Software®. He is “credited with turning the software industry on its head” by using the Internet to “revamp the way software programs are designed and distributed.”[5] He has long evangelized software as a service as the model that would replace traditional enterprise software. He is the creator of the term “platform as a service” and has extended’s reach by allowing customers to build their own applications on the company’s architecture, or in the “cloud.”[6] He is the author of three books, including the national best seller Behind the Cloud.[7] He currently serves on the board of Cisco Systems.

Early life and education

Benioff was raised in a Jewish family[1][8] in the San Francisco metropolitan area.[9] He graduated from Burlingame High School in 1982.[10] Benioff received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from theUniversity of Southern California[2] in 1986.


While still in high school Benioff sold his first application, How to Juggle, for $75. At 15 he founded Liberty Software, creating and selling games for the Atari 8-bit computer among others.[11][12] Epyx published his King Arthur’s Heir, The Nightmare, Escape from Vulcan’s Isle, and Crypt of the Undead,[13][14] and by 16 Benioff was earning royalties of $1,500 a month, enough to pay for college.[12] During USC he had internships as anassembly language programmer at the Macintosh division of Apple Computer, where he was inspired by the company and its co-founder, Steve Jobs.[15]

Benioff expected to continue programming after college, but USC professors advised him to obtain customer-oriented work experience and Benioff joined Oracle Corporation after graduation in a customer-service role.[12] Prior to founding, he was at Oracle for 13 years in a variety of executive positions in sales, marketing, and product development. At 23, he was named Oracle’s Rookie of the Year and three years later he was promoted to vice president, the company’s youngest person to hold that title.[16]

Influence and honors

In 2010 Fortune named him one of the Smartest 50 People in Tech[17] as well as one of the Top 50 People in Business.[18] The San Francisco Business Times named Benioff 2009 Executive of the Year, “for defying the fierce economic downdraft–and taking the lead role in the creation of an industry.”[19]

In 2007, Benioff was the National Winner of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award.[20]

He was appointed by President George W. Bush as the co-chairman of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee and served from 2003–2005, overseeing the publishing of critical reports on health care information technology, cybersecurity, andcomputational sciences. has received many accolades including a Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation award. It has been lauded as one of BusinessWeek’s Top 100 Most Innovative Companies, named No. 7 on The Wired 40, and twice selected as a Top Ten Disrupter by Forbes.[21] In addition, Forbes named one of America’s Best Companies.[22]

Benioff received a honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Southern California on May 16, 2014.[23]


Benioff pioneered the 1/1/1 integrated philanthropic model, by which companies contribute 1 percent of profits, 1 percent of equity, and 1 percent of employee hours back to the communities it serves. Parts of this 1/1/1 model have been adopted by many other companies, including Google.[24] In 2005, the members of the World Economic Forum named him as one of its Young Global Leaders.[25] In 2007 the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy presented Benioff with the Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy Award and in 2008 invited him to become a director of the board.[26]

In June 2010, Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Krilich[27] announced a $100 million gift to UCSF Children’s Hospital with the goal of not only seeing the new hospital built but significantly advancing children’s health worldwide.[28] In 2010, Benioff and his wife were named one of the Top 25 Most Effective Philanthropists by Barron’s.[29]

In 2014, Marc Benioff donated another $100 million to UCSF and Oakland Children’s Hospital (both now called Benioff Children’s Hospitals).

Benioff credits Mata Amritanandamayi with inspiring his philanthropic business models, stating “But the most pivotal meeting for me was with Mata Amritanandamayi, … It was she who introduced me to the idea, and possibility, of giving back to the world while pursing my career ambitions. I realized that I didn’t have to make a choice between doing business and doing good. I could align these two values and strive to succeed at both simultaneously.”[30]


This profile is partly adapted from a Wikipedia entry on Marc Benioff, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.