Photo: Associated Press
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Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff called his hometown of San Francisco a “train wreck” of inequality and he blamed local technology companies like his own in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“We have a real inequality problem,” Benioff said in an interview with CNBC “It’s because of the tech sector.”
Benioff went on to explain, “I mean we have an incredible technology industry, one that every city in the world craves. But housing prices have increased. There has been broad gentrification. And at the same time we have a horrible homeless problem. We’re not taking care of the people who need us most.”
San Francisco has more than 7,500 people living on the streets and Benioff has been an advocate for increased city spending to house those in need. He was a champion of Proposition C, a November 2018 ballot measure that promised to generate up to $300 million for homeless programs by raising taxes on big businesses.
Some tech CEOs opposed the proposition, including Zynga founder Mark Pincus, Stripe CEO Patrick Collison and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Dorsey and Benioff locked horns over the ballot measure on Twitter when Dorsey wrote that he didn’t think Prop C was the best way to fix the homeless problem. He also said he was siding with SF Mayor London Breed, who also opposed the bill.
Benioff responded to Dorsey, “Which homeless programs in our city are you supporting? Can you tell me what Twitter and Square & you are in for & at what financial levels? How much have you given to heading home our $37M initiative to get every homeless child off the streets?”
Benioff and Salesforce have donated to multiple San Francisco Bay Area causes, including $250 million to support hospitals, $11 million to help the homeless, and $50 million to public schools.
In his talk at Davos, he called on other business leaders to give more to their communities, saying inequality is “an issue every CEO needs to focus on.”
“Prop C was a great example of where we had people who were very committed to getting that done and improving things in San Francisco,” Benioff told CNBC Tuesday. “Each CEO is responsible for their little part.”
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Marc-Benioff-Davos-San-Francisco-is-a-train-wreck-13551953.php.