Marc Benioff is now Salesforce’s sole chief executive.

The cloud software giant announced Tuesday alongside its fourth-quarter earnings that Benioff’s co-CEO, Keith Block, has stepped down after a year and a half. In the statement, Block did not give a reason for the transition but said he was excited for the future.

Salesforce itself is in a good position at the moment: Under Benioff’s leadership, the company has swelled to a $160 billion market cap, even as it hit $10 billion in annual revenue for the 2018 fiscal year. It’s gone from an upstart Oracle rival to a cloud computing behemoth in its own right.

Here’s how Benioff, whose estimated net worth now stands at $7.85 billion, worked his way up to the national stage from humble origins.


Marc Russell Benioff, 55, was born in San Francisco on September 25th, 1964, the son of Joelle and Russell Benioff.

Foto: San FranciscosourceREUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Source: Bloomberg

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Benioff is something of an anomaly among Silicon Valley CEOs — he was actually born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He graduated from Burlingame High School in 1982.

Foto: sourceGetty Images

Source: Bloomberg


His father, Russell Benioff, owned a local department store in San Francisco. “I learned my work ethic from him,” Benioff once said.

Foto: Salesforce CEO Marc BenioffsourceBusiness Insider

Source: Inc.


Benioff got his first job at a jewelry store to save up for his first computer. He was eventually fired for cleaning the floors with the wrong soap.

Foto: Benioff’s former workplace not pictured.sourceBethany Biron/Business Insider

Source: Entrepreneur


While in high school, Benioff sold his first app — software called “How To Juggle” for the TRS-80 Model 1 computer — to a computer magazine for $75.

Foto: Benioff’s computer not pictured.sourceFlickr/believekevin

Source: Entrepreneur


At age 15, Benioff founded Liberty Software, his one-man company making games for the Atari 800 computer. Titles included “King Arthur’s Heir,” “The Nightmare,” “Escape from Vulcan’s Isle,” and “Crypt of the Undead.”

Foto: The Atari 800 computer.sourceMatt Weinberger

Source: Entrepreneur


By age 16, Benioff was pulling in $1,500 a month — enough that he was able to pay for his own tuition at the University of Southern California. He graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration in 1986.

Foto: The University of Southern California.sourceWikimedia Commons / Bobak Ha’Eri

Source: Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to billion-dollar company and revolutionized an industry, Salesforce


USC named Benioff an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 2014. He now sits on the University’s Board of Trustees.

Foto: Benioff delivers the keynote address during commencement at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley May 16, 2015.sourceREUTERS/Noah Berger

Source: Salesforce


While at USC, Benioff took a summer internship with Apple, working as a programmer in the Macintosh division under cofounder Steve Jobs. “That summer, I discovered it was possible for an entrepreneur to encourage revolutionary ideas,” Benioff would later write.

Foto: Apple cofounder Steve Jobs at the debut of the original Apple Macintosh.sourceAP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Source: Entrepreneur


Jobs became one of Benioff’s mentors. “There would be no Salesforce.com without Steve Jobs,” Benioff said in 2013.

Foto: sourceDavid Paul Morris/Getty Images

Source: Entrepreneur


Benioff planned to stay in programming for the rest of his career, but a USC professor suggested he might have a mind for business. And so, he took a customer support role at high-flying database company Oracle right out of college.

Foto: An Oracle office.sourceOracle

Source: Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to billion-dollar company and revolutionized an industry


Young Benioff rapidly made it up the ranks. At age 23, Benioff was named Oracle’s “Rookie of the Year.”

Foto: Oracle Challenger PlanesourceFlickr/ D. Miller

Source: Entrepreneur


At 25, Benioff’s salary from Oracle made him a millionaire.

Foto: The Oracle logo is shown on an office building in Irvine, CaliforniasourceReuters

Source: Vanity Fair


By age 26, he was named a vice president — the youngest person to attain the role in the company’s history.

Foto: sourceKimberley White/Getty Images

Source: Entrepreneur


While at Oracle, Benioff caught the attention of its billionaire playboy founder Larry Ellison. The two became very close, with Ellison mentoring the younger Benioff.

Foto: Marc Benioff (left) and Larry Ellison (right)sourceMike Nudelman/Business Insider

Source: Inc.


Carlye Adler wrote in Fortune: “They sailed to the Mediterranean on Ellison’s yacht, visited Japan during cherry blossom season, spent Thanksgiving together, and even double-dated.”

Foto: An Oracle-sponsored yacht.sourceIan Mainsbridge/AP Images

Source: Fortune


After 13 years with Oracle, Benioff started itching for something new. With Ellison’s permission, Benioff took a sabbatical to travel the world. He spent part of that time studying meditation in Hawaii.

Foto: sourceRon Kosen / AP Images

Source: Entrepreneur


Benioff came up with the idea for Salesforce while swimming with dolphins. He soon started working on the company with a few other Oracle veterans.

Foto: Salesforce CEO Marc BenioffsourceBusiness Insider

Source: Entrepreneur


The big idea behind Salesforce was that where most companies — including Oracle — sold enterprise software that companies had to install on their own servers, they would let people access business apps from the web browser. For the late nineties, this was revolutionary.

Foto: Salesforce.com’s “No Software” mascot, SaaSysourceFlickr/Jon Mountjoy

Source: Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to billion-dollar company and revolutionized an industry


At first, Ellison was supportive of Benioff. Ellison even gave Salesforce $2 million in funding from his own pocket to get it started, and sat on its board of directors.

Foto: Larry EllisonsourceEzra Shaw/Getty

Source: Business Insider


But things turned sour between the two. Benioff found out that Oracle was working on a direct competitor to Salesforce. Benioff tried to force his mentor to quit the company’s board. Instead, Ellison forced Benioff to fire him — meaning Ellison kept his shares in Salesforce.

Foto: Larry EllisonsourceGetty

Source: Business Insider

Read more: The epic 30-year bromance of billionaire CEOs Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff


It kicked off an epic rivalry for the ages, with the two taking shots at each other in the press. Note the Salesforce jet shooting down the Oracle biplane in this early Salesforce ad from 2001.

Foto: Marc Benioff with an early Salesforce ad. Note the Salesforce jet shooting down the Oracle plane.sourceEric Risberg/AP

Source: Business Insider


The dot-com bust of the early 2000s was a difficult time for Salesforce. “Suddenly everything around us was falling apart,” Benioff’s cofounder Parker Harris said.

Foto: Marc Benioff touring an early Salesforce often on a branded Segway scooter.sourceAP Photo/Ben Margot

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald


Salesforce survived and kept growing, becoming one of the earliest and biggest companies in the modern cloud computing market.

Foto: The Salesforce logo is pictured on a building in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 12, 2016.sourceREUTERS/Lily Jamali

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald


And in June 2004, Salesforce held its IPO, raising $110 million at $11 per share.

Foto: Marc Benioff on the day of the Salesforce IPO.sourceAP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Source: Bloomberg


In addition to Ellison, real estate magnate Paul Pelosi — the husband of Nancy Pelosi, the US Speaker for the House of Representatives — was an early investor in Salesforce, making them both a lot of money.

Foto: US House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.sourceGetty Images/Chip Somodevilla

Source: Inc.


Beyond just business, Benioff is a best-selling author of the business book “Behind the Cloud,” a 2009 memoir on Salesforce’s early success.

Foto: Benioff’s book, “Behind the Cloud.”sourceAmazon

Source: Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to billion-dollar company and revolutionized an industry


Benioff is also a big believer in corporate philanthropy: Under his leadership, Salesforce invented the “1-1-1” model, where the company gives 1% of employee time as volunteer hours, 1% of its profits, and 1% of its resources to charitable causes.

Foto: Benioff at a Salesforce meeting.sourceMarc Benioff

Source: Salesforce


San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee declared March 7 “Global 1/1/1 Day” in honor of Salesforce’s 15th birthday in 2014. Benioff keeps a copy of the proclamation in his office.

Foto: San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee greets people as he walks through Chinatown on November 8, 2011 in San Francisco, California.sourceJustin Sullivan/Getty

Source: Forbes


Benioff’s philanthropic efforts focus on children’s health, the environment, public education, and homelessness, according to his biography on Salesforce’s website.

Foto: sourceAP

Source: Salesforce


“I hope that our city leaders will wake up & realize that Homelessness is our #1 crisis,” Benioff tweeted in July 2019.

Foto: sourceKimberly White/Getty Images for Fortun

Source: Twitter


Benioff donated $250 million to the University of California, San Francisco in 2010 to found UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals.

Foto: sourcePhoto by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Source: Salesforce


In 2016, Benioff and his wife, Lynne, launched the Benioff Ocean Initiative at the University of California, Santa Barbara to study marine life.

Foto: The University of California, Santa Barbara scientists not pictured.sourceUS Navy

Source: Salesforce


“The business of business is improving the state of the world,” Benioff said.

Foto: sourceREUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

Source: Salesforce


Benioff also serves on the World Economic Forum’s Board of Trustees.

Foto: sourceREUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Source: Salesforce


Benioff credits former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Hindu guru Mata Amritanandamayi — who he met on a trip through India — with encouraging him to put Salesforce’s resources to work helping others.

Foto: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell.sourceCarolyn Kaster/AP Photo

Source: Inc.


Benioff’s belief in social justice also led him straight into the fight against proposed bills in Indiana and Georgia that would allow discrimination against gay people. He rallied other business leaders to the cause, with a positive result.

Foto: Salesforce CEO Marc BenioffsourceRobert Galbraith/Reuters

All the while, he’s earned a reputation as one of Silicon Valley’s most boisterous CEOs. He rarely appears in public without his custom cloud sneakers.

Foto: Benioff’s custom cloud sneakers.sourceGetty Images/Justin Sullivan

Source: Business Insider


Benioff is also a Star Wars fan. He keeps an R2-D2 figurine on his desk.

Foto: Benioff’s figurine not pictured.sourceMatt Weinberger/Business Insider

Source: Forbes


And while he may not be the globetrotting playboy that his mentor Ellison is, Benioff has lots of friends in the celebrity and political worlds.

Foto: Marc Benioff shakes hands with Hillary Clinton.sourceGetty Images/Justin Sullivan

Benioff is married to philanthropist Lynne Benioff.

Foto: sourceAlberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for J/P HRO

Source: Salesforce


The Benioffs have several homes, including this 5-acre compound in Hawaii.

Foto: sourceBing Maps

Source: The Wall Street Journal


He also has fractional ownership of two Gulfstream IV jets.

Foto: Benioff’s plane not pictured.sourceGeneral Dynamics

Source: The Wall Street Journal


All the while, Salesforce has grown to a $160 billion company, while its annual Dreamforce conference has ballooned to take over much of San Francisco every autumn.

Foto: Marc Benioff.sourceRobert Galbraith/Reuters

Source: Business Insider 1, 2


Dreamforce is also always a huge party, with acts like Metallica and Foo Fighters headlining its afterparties.

Foto: Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference is a massive event.sourceSalesforce/Glassdoor

Source: Business Insider


Salesforce has gotten so big, that at one point, the company had to abandon plans to move into a new San Francisco campus, because it had already outgrown it. Instead, it opened Salesforce Tower, its new headquarters — and the tallest building in San Francisco — in 2018.

Source: Business Insider


Oh, and yes, Marc Benioff is distantly related to David Benioff, of “Game of Thrones” fame.

Foto: Marc Benioff and his distant relation, “Game of Thrones” showrunner David Benioff.sourceMarc Benioff

Source: Business Insider


In August 2018, Salesforce named one-time Oracle exec Keith Block the company’s co-CEO, putting him on an even keel with Benioff. Block stepped down a year-and-a-half later.

Foto: Salesforce co-CEO Keith BlocksourceSalesforce

Source: Business Insider


In 2018, Marc and his wife Lynne Benioff announced that they intend to purchase Time Magazine for $190 million.

Foto: sourceBryan Bedder/Getty Images for Time

Source: Business Insider


In 2018, Salesforce paid Benioff a $1.5 million salary, in addition to a $2.3 million bonus for the fiscal year 2019 and 195,872 stock options.

Foto: sourceJustin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Source: Business Insider


Benioff thinks he should pay more taxes on that money, however. “Well get an economy that works for everyone when 1) create educational system that works for everyone & 2) Affordable Higher education & 3) strengthen our local K-12 public schools 4) We must focus online reskilling that brings everyone along & 5) higher ind & Crp taxes to pay for it,” Benioff tweeted in June 2019.

Foto: sourceAP Photo/Eric Risberg

Source: Business Insider