This week I watched an interview with Marc Benioff on This Week in StartUps. Marc is the CEO/founder of Salesforce, one of the largest CRM software development companies in the world. He started by telling the story of his 13 year employment at Oracle and how he watched that particular company grow into the corporation it is today. However in spite of the success Oracle had during his time there he bemoaned the lack of a culture he could buy into. Success at Oracle was all about the bottom line and the company had no ability to ‘give back’ to the world.

Marc went on to give a passionate interview about how any person in the process of starting their own company needs to focus on creating a desirable company culture and a business model which truly benefits all stakeholders, not just the shareholders.

In line with this ethos, Salesforce was created on the basis of what Marc called a ‘1.1.1’ concept. The main points of the discussion on this concept are below:

  • 1% of our Equity
    • Salesforce gives away 1% of its equity each year to help different schemes and start- ups within various communities in the form of grants. Since its inception Salesforce has handed out over $100m in grants.
  • 1% of our Resource
    • Salesforce gives away 1% of its total resource to help non-profit’s and NGO’s. Basically it means that they supply their products to these organisations for free. Currently 25,000 Non Profit Organisations and NGO’s are operating with the help of Salesforce software.
  • 1% of our Employees Time
    • Salesforce ensure that each of its 15,000 employee’s spends 6 days a year paid work in the community, helping in many different ways ranging from staff heading to Cambodia to help with a reading scheme for children to volunteering in local schools in the San Francisco area. In addition to this every new employee spends half of their first day out volunteering, in order for them to understand the culture of the company.

Indeed Marc admits that there are rewards for doing this and he has found that the recruitment and retaining of staff has been easier because they see the company as doing good and want to be part of it and of course the goodwill gained has helped to increase the company bottom line. The problem is getting the world to realise that the two can be intrinsically linked. So if you are just starting out and thinking about your product mix, your digital strategy and your funding, maybe take a step back and think about the type of culture you want to create, as Marc says ‘there is no separation necessary between making your company succeed and making the world a better place’. It may pay dividends in the long run!!

See the whole interview here.

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