This Billionaire Says Silicon Valley Is a 'Train Wreck'

Salesforce co-founder Marc Benioff shared his concern about inequality in San Francisco

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By Nina Zipkin

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Last week, Oxfam International released its annual report which found that altogether, the wealth of the world's 26 wealthiest people hit $1.4 trillion in 2018, which is as much as the total wealth of the 3.8 billion poorest people. Let that sink in: 26 people have the same amount of money as 3.8 billion.

The study was published ahead of the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which is attended by some of the world's most high-profile business leaders and policymakers. In 2018, the average speaker at Davos had a net worth of $414.3 million.

In an interview with CNBC at the Davos, Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff -- who has a net worth of $6.4 billion and who was in the news in September for buying Time magazine for $190 million -- shared his concerns about the growing issues of inequality in San Francisco where Salesforce and many tech titans are based, characterizing the city as "kind of a train wreck."

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We have a real inequality problem," he continued. "It's because of the tech sector. We have an incredible technology industry, one that every city in the world craves. But housing prices increase, there's been broad gentrification, and yet at the same time we have a horrible homelessness problem. We're not taking care of the people who need us most. And that is an issue that every CEO needs to focus on. In some ways, San Francisco is the canary in the coal mine."

He went on to discuss his efforts to support Proposition C, a piece of legislation in San Francisco that passed in November that will raise taxes on the city's biggest companies and put that money towards funding services for San Francisco's homeless population.

While Benioff was a vocal advocate of the measure, there were others in the tech industry who were publicly opposed, including Twitter's Jack Dorsey.

"It's kind of what we say here at Davos, improving the state of the world. But each CEO is responsible for their little part."

Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

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