Quoted: Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO with a cause or two, called ‘corporate bully’

“The Salesforce CEO is a corporate bully. One or two executives from San Francisco call their buddies, and then we’ve got leftist groupthink tarnishing North Carolina.”

Dan Forest, lieutenant governor for North Carolina, home to a controversial law that says people must use the public restroom that matches the gender listed on their birth certificates, which is being protested as discriminatory against transgender people. Among the protesters: More than 100 CEOs, including Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, who signed on to a letter by civil rights organizations.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Benioff, who has spoken out against other state laws (in Indiana and Georgia) that discriminate against gay and transgender people and pressured other business leaders to do the same, has done it again in North Carolina — including helping along Deutsche Bank’s decision to freeze plans to add 250 jobs in that state.

Among the CEOs quoted by the WSJ about Benioff’s activism was Dow Chemical’s: “Marc rallies CEOs when business and trade groups are much slower to act, particularly on noneconomic issues,” Andrew Liveris said. Also, this from Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman: “[Benioff] creates air cover for the rest of us so we feel OK about speaking out.”

But Benioff did say he gets CEOs who tell him they can’t afford to speak up.

Benioff, now chief executive of San Francisco-based Salesforce.com and former executive at Oracle, is well-known in the tech and business community for his philanthropy, being outspoken on Twitter — which is also a tool for his activism — and for putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to equal pay for women.

But to some of the lawmakers whose measures he has opposed, such as Georgia State Sen. Josh McKoonhe, who’s also quoted by the WSJ, Benioff is “the ringleader for big-business CEOs… who use economic threats to exercise more power over public policy than the voters who use the democratic process.”

Other high-profile opponents of the North Carolina law include Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato and other musicians who have canceled concerts there. Also, PayPal canceled a plan to expand in Charlotte, and Google Ventures announced it wouldn’t invest in startups in the state.


Photo: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff in 2013. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)


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  • Raj Bhatt

    Benioff is a champion of justice. Nothing tarnishes North Carolina other than the bigotry of the lawmakers.

    Pointing fingers will not get NC out of the spotlight. It’s 2016 and the United States doesn’t stand for this behavior anymore.

  • menloman

    More Jewish moral superiority as a replacement to the will of representatives of North Carolina. It isn’t a democracy when 2% of the population has the last word.