“We are navigating through a crisis of trust," Salesforce Chairman and co-CEO Marc Benioff said in a televised CNBC interview with news anchor Sara Eisen Tuesday at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. He called on CEOs to be more accountable, ranging from handling abuse of their data better to confronting social issues such as homelessness. "Certainly, if they are abusing their product or abusing the data that they are colllecting, those CEOs need to wake and realize they can’t do that anymore–this is a new day,” he said.
CEOs need to be more vigilant about avoiding doing damage with technology, Benioff added.“You’re going to see more of that as AI gets further unleashed. The ‘techlash’ could get amplified, if CEOs don’t make change now.”
Eisen asked about the homelessness issues in San Francisco, where Salesforce is headquartered. Salesforce and Benioff have been vocal supporters of San Francisco’s Proposition C, which recently passed into legislation and will impose business taxes on larger companies to fund housing and programs for the homeless.
“San Francisco is kind of a train wreck,” Benioff said. “We have a real inequality problem. We have an incredible technology industry, one that every city in the world craves, but housing prices are high and there’s been broad gentrification, and at the same time we have a horrible homeless problem. We are not taking care of the people who need us most. That is an issue that every CEO needs to focus on. In some ways, San Francisco is the canary in the coal mine. You have to look at San Francisco and say, ‘well here is the best technology in the world, and yet there is the worst homelessness. Walking down the street is digusting and that has to change, and it has to change.’”
He stressed that many CEOs are not doing their part to address such issues. “Each CEO is responsible for their little part…CEOs in San Francisco need to wake up. Walk down the street, see what is happening here,” he said.
Benioff and other Salesforce leaders are participating in panel discussions and other events in Davos. The Salesforce Newsroom will provide coverage throughout the week. Watch the full CNBC interview here.