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Marc Benioff boosts Mail Force's PPE airlift campaign

by Jess Brazier (2020-05-09)


It was hardly the place Marc Benioff ever imagined would be the setting for what he now describes as 'an incredible awakening'. Incense hung heavy in the air as the sound of chanting filled the room. He was in a remote town in India and seated opposite a Hindu spiritual guru called Mata Amritanandamayi, revered as 'the hugging saint' by her followers.

Mr Benioff, bdavn a Silicon Valley pioneer, was already wildly successful. A millionaire by 25, he was the youngest ever vice-president of software giant Oracle, drove a Ferrari and seemed to have it all.

But in his heart he knew that something was missing.

He had taken a three-month sabbatical from Oracle to travel the world. 'It was like a scene from a movie,' he recalled. 'We're in the middle of nowhere in this tiny Indian village and everybody's dressed in white and orange and there's incense wafting.

'I'm with a friend who is Indian. He's telling her [the guru] about the challenges in his life and his struggles and about this business that he was going to start. I thought he was going to ask her to invest, he was quite aggressive.

'Then she looked right at me and said, 'In your quest to change the world, don't forget to do something for somebody else.' '






Today, 55-year-old Mr Benioff (pictured with his wife in 2017) is worth £5.5 billion thanks to the success of the company he founded shortly after that encounter, Salesforce, which employs 50,000 people around the globe including more than 1,500 in the UK 


It was a comment that would forever change his life.

Today, 55-year-old Mr Benioff is worth £5.5 billion thanks to the success of the company he founded shortly after that encounter, Salesforce, which employs 50,000 people around the globe including more than 1,500 in the UK. His firm is the world leader in 'customer relationship management software' which uses the cloud to help businesses organise information about their customers and has an annual revenue of £13 billion.

He is also one of the world's greatest philanthropists thanks to the encounter with the woman he calls simply 'Amma' ('Mother'). 'It was she who introduced me to the idea, and possibility, of giving back to the world by pursuing my career ambitions,' Mr Benioff said. 'I realised that I didn't have to make a choice between doing business and doing good. I could do both.'






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Last week, a consortium led by our sister paper the Daily Mail, and including Salesforce and UK asset management firm Marshall Wace, set up a charity called the Mail Force Charity to tackle the urgent shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the Covid-19 emergency in Britain.

The tech tycoon has already donated £1 million of his fortune to support the charity along with another £1 million from Salesforce. In total he has spent around £20 million sourcing and supplying PPE to hospitals around the world.