Salesforce’s Marc Benioff on Big Tech: “Capitalism needs guardrails”
Salesforce.com co-CEO and billionaire Marc Benioff appeared on the show Mad Money with host Jim Cramer on Wednesday, to discuss the American government’s involvement in tech corporations as well as a new book that he co-authored with Salesforce executive Monica Langley, “Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change.”
According to Benioff, the future of capitalism hinges in how the US Government enforces its antitrust laws on the country’s biggest information and technology corporations. “Capitalism needs guardrails”, Benioff said. “That’s the point of the book. That’s a very important part of the future of technology as well.”
The Salesforce co-CEO went on to criticize social media platforms for their inability to self-regulate and weed out the bad apples as well as being this generation’s “cigarettes” due to their addictive properties and the promotion of false ads. In particular, Benioff took time to blame Facebook for acquiring an unprecedented amount of data and selling it to third parties without the explicit consent of users who provide it. “They’re providing data to tens of thousands of partners without the knowledge of their users. This is a company that probably should be regulated and broken up; it’s got too much data,” he said in the interview.
The comments come just a day after several presidential candidates in backed more regulation or the breaking up of Big Tech to make room for more competition in Tuesday’s Democratic debate. This isn’t to say that the US Department of Justice never tries to break up large tech companies. Microsoft has been fighting just such a battle for over 20 years, having finally successfully ending the legal conflict in the company’s favor. “This is why we have antitrust authorities worldwide embedded in every major government agency, to keep an eye on these things,” said Benioff. “Government has to do what it’s going to do.”
In his book, Benioff discusses the core values of Salesforce, the importance of a customer relationship management business, and why its focus should be on giving back to the people. However, any attempts made by Jim Cramer to hint at a presidential run were shot down by Benioff. “I could never be a politician, I would never run for office, but I do know how to be a tech CEO. I do know how to build a business on all stakeholders. What I want to do ... is influence everyone, from the intern to the CEO,” Benioff said, “that they can all be platforms for change and that we can all improve the state of the world.”