“If trust is not your highest value, and you see it in our technology industry right now, your employees and executives are going to walk out,” Benioff told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Power Lunch” on Tuesday. “You’d better decide now that trust is your highest value, because in this new world when everything is changing, people want to know they can trust you.”
The interview took place during Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. While Benioff didn’t mention any specific companies, the implications are obvious.
His remarks come at a time of deep turbulence in technology, even as tech stocks are rallying and the companies are capturing a bigger piece of the economy. Executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter have been called to testify in multiple congressional hearings of late to discuss their roles in enabling Russian meddling in the the 2016 presidential election and other ways their platforms have been used to spread false information.
Facebook, in particular, has seen an exodus of high-ranking employees, including the announced departure this week of Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who said they would be leaving six years after the Facebook acquisition.
Last month Salesforce promoted Keith Block to co-CEO, running the company alongside Benioff. And late last year, the company elevated former Quip CEO Bret Taylor to the position of president and chief product officer. Cramer highlighted the Block announcement and said that some have wondered if Benioff is leaving the company.
“I’m deeply committed to having a positive global impact,” Benioff said. “My No. 1 platform for change is this company.”
Benioff pointed to Salesforce’s 1-1-1 approach to philanthropy, which involves a commitment of 1 percent of the company’s equity, product and time.
“Of course I didn’t realize that now that would turn into a quarter-billion dollars of donations to others,” he said. On Tuesday, the company’s philanthropic arm announced an additional donation of over $15 million to the San Francisco and Oakland public schools.
Nearly 40,000 nonprofits and non-governmental organizations use Salesforce for free, Benioff said.
“I’m constantly looking for ways to give back in a positive way,” said Benioff, who recently bought Time magazine for $190 million.
Disclosure: Cramer’s charitable trust owns shares of Salesforce.com.