SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Thousands crowded San Francisco’s waterfront on Friday, as Salesforce.com celebrated its 15th anniversary. The tech company held a concert on the Embarcadero, featuring R&B artist Janelle Monae.
Behind the celebration is a serious goal: fighting poverty. Company CEO Marc Benioff is in the midst of a plan to involve 20 more technology companies to be more giving.
Salesforce is giving away big, and urging other tech firms to give big to San Francisco’s needy as part of an initiative called SF Gives.
“But we hope to raise $100 million from these technology companies,” Benioff said Friday. “This is a boom time in technology. This is the time to ask them for the money, because they have it.”
Salesforce runs nonprofits, pays for 500,000 hours of employee community service and has handed out more than $50 million.
But Benioff said it is hard for tech firms to part with their money. “I’m on the phone myself, I’m on email and I can tell you there’s still a lot of accomplished CEOs and entrepreneurs who are not willing to join SF Gives.”
While the celebration continued, Salesforce employees worked to feed hungry people all over the world.
“We’ve packaged over 22,000 meals in celebration of their anniversary,” said Karen Noe of Stop Hunger Now.
A Salesforce supported nonprofit called Year Up finds talented people in underserved communities.
“We give them hard marketable IT skills, combined with soft skills to go do an internship and then to earn a job,” said Jay Banfield of Year Up Bay Area
Dominique Jones, a Year Up intern told KPIX 5, “I was kind of a professional college dropout. And I couldn’t finish school and I couldn’t find a job because I didn’t have a degree.”
Year Up gave Jones the basic technical skills for an internship in tech at Salesforce, along with a pay check. “I make good money,” she said.
Benioff said successful tech companies that are not giving back are missing out.
“They need to realize the real happiness and the real enjoyment they’re going to have in their life will be from giving back to others,” he said.
So far, nine tech companies have committed more than $5 million to the cause.