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Benioff sets up SF philanthropic program for tech firms

The Salesforce CEO is urging technology firms to give more charitably to programs in the Bay Area.

#218 Marc Benioff
James Martin/CNET

Marc Benioff is taking the lead in repairing the technology industry's embattled image in San Francisco.

On Friday, the gregarious Salesforce chief executive announced an initiative to raise $10 million over the next 60 days for Bay Area antipoverty programs. The program will be called SF Gives, a joint effort with the nonprofit The Tipping Point.

"We don't want to be the industry that looks like 'The Wolf of Wall Street,'" he told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We want to be more benevolent."

The program will at first call on 20 companies to contribute $500,000 each, but Benioff would eventually like to like the initiative to rake in $100 million for some 45 Bay Area organizations. While early, the program has already raised $5 million, from firms like LinkedIn, Google, Jawbone and Box.

Benioff's effort comes amidst a culture clash in the Bay Area, as some residents have blamed the tech industry for a sharp rise in housing costs and the gentrification of old neighborhoods. In recent months, demonstrators have protested the tech companies by blocking the corporate shuttles that ferry employees from the city to corporate campuses in Silicon Valley. In January, San Francisco approved a pilot program that would charge the tech firms a small fee for operating the shuttles. Benioff, for his part, has also said the the buses needed greater regulation.

Salesforce -- which turned 15 years old on Friday -- has held to what it calls a 1/1/1 philosophy: a pledge to donate one percent of its equity, its employees' time and the company's products to charity. Google has been another tech giant to give high profile gifts. Last month, the company donated $6.8 million to fund a program that would let underprivileged youth ride the city's MUNI public transportation for free.

Still, Benioff said some firms pushed back when he urged for their charitable donations. "We still have some pretty epic companies here who have had IPOs and aren't giving - and aren't part of this and won't join," he said.

"We have to keep a light on this idea that if you come to San Francisco, you need to also be committed to giving back," Benioff told the Chronicle. "You can't just take from our city."

[Via San Francisco Chronicle]