Bloomberg Businessweek

Trust His Gut

Salesforce’s remarkable growth has relied on Marc Benioff’s personality-driven, pricey deals. Can he keep it up?

Marc Benioff wanted everyone to know the statue was “a very, very big deal.” The software billionaire, a lover of all things Hawaiian, spent $7.5 million at auction in late 2017 for a centuries-old carving of the war god Ku and made a show of donating it to a museum in Honolulu last spring. Hawaii has shaped Benioff’s spiritual beliefs and fostered his boldface-name friendships, and he framed the donation as a way of giving back to the community, saying he didn’t want to hoard the statue’s spiritual power. It’s possible he needn’t have worried: A couple months ago, some art experts began arguing that based on the uncertainty of its provenance, the Ku figure is likely a tiki-bar-caliber tchotchke worth less than $5,000. A spokeswoman declined to comment on the statue’s value.

The co-chief executive

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