By Paul R. La Monica, CNN Business
Marc Benioff is obsessed with Twitter. So much that he wishes he could own it.
Benioff, Salesforce chairman and co-CEO, told CNN’s Poppy Harlow in an interview that if it were up to just him, he would “absolutely” buy Twitter.
To be clear, he’s not actually going to do it. “I will never buy Twitter,” Benioff told Harlow. “Because I want something doesn’t mean I’m going to have it…I would like to go have a sundae right now with three scoops of ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream and a cherry. But I’m not going to have it.”
His comments come in the middle of Twitter’s legal battle with Elon Musk, who offered to buy the company but then terminated the deal.
Benioff added that he still thinks Twitter “is the greatest, most unrealized, most un-monetized brand” in tech and that “it’s an amazing company, amazing brand, amazing platform and can do incredible things for the future,” adding that “I’ve always been in love with the product. I use it every day and I believe very strongly that this has got still a huge amount of potential ahead.”
Salesforce considered a Twitter deal in 2016. But it was not to be, as Salesforce investors balked at the idea of a Twitter takeover.
“When I went to buy Twitter and I was having those conversations, all of my shareholders came to me and said, ‘You can stop that now. You will not pursue this vision,'” he said, adding that “it was a tough moment for me.”
Salesforce went on to make another bold deal, though, agreeing to buy the workforce collaboration app Slack for $27.7 billion in late 2020.
Benioff’s net worth is $6.2 billion, according to Forbes, while Tesla and SpaceX CEO Musk is the wealthiest person on the planet with an estimated net worth of $254.6 billion.
Helping the planet, and employees
Aside from his Twitter comments, Benioff also discussed with Harlow his concerns about what’s next for the global economy. Investors are clearly nervous as well. Shares of Salesforce have plunged more than 40% so far this year.
Benioff said that deflation in Japan and Europe are potential problems, and he believes Europe and the United Kingdom are “going into recession.” But he does not think the US is in a recession.
He also talked about climate change, abortion rights and other topics in the wide-ranging interview. Benioff told Harlow that big companies like Salesforce, which is one of the 30 stocks in the Dow, have a responsibility to do more to help the planet.
“We can use our businesses for platforms for changes,” he said. “It’s about lowering emissions. It’s about all of us going net zero,” adding that Salesforce is still a company generating billions of dollars of annual revenue and earnings even as the company continues to focus on doing good.
“We can do it all. We can have super high revenue, super high profit, super high cash flow and we can manage for all stakeholders,” he said. “That means we’re managing for our employees, our customers, our communities, our homeless, and yes, the planet is a key stakeholder as well.”
Benioff was inspired by the Patagonia’s founder‘s recent decision to transfer his ownership and ensure the company’s future profits go to charitable organizations focusing on environmental causes.
“I love what he has done. I think we [Salesforce] also need to do more,” Benioff said.
Doing more also means standing up for all your employees, he added. Salesforce helped employees in Indiana relocate due to strict abortion laws, for example, and he said the company has no tolerance for discrimination due to sexual orientation or gender preferences.
“We have to be for the equality and dignity of every human being,” he said, “and if you’re not for equality and dignity then…this is not something that I can work with. And we’re going to have to exit your city or your state.”
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