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Happiness or Success? Salesforce’s Marc Benioff Doesn’t Want to Choose.


Many years ago, Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk and spiritual leader, posed a question to Marc Benioff, the co-founder and chief executive of Salesforce.“What is more important, being successful or being happy?” he asked.Mr. Benioff answered pretty much the way you would expect a Silicon Valley entrepreneur to answer.“Both,” he said.Thich Nhat Hanh cautioned that “if everything is important, nothing is important.” But for many years it seemed that Mr. Benioff, just like Silicon Valley itself, was able to have success as well as happiness — not to mention money, respect and influence.Salesforce, which makes software to help companies sell better, became a hard-driving and influential tech company, the biggest employer in San Francisco. Mr. Benioff, 58, became a philanthropist, the advocate for a new model of capitalism and, at least in the Bay Area, as inescapable as the 61-story tower that bears his company’s name.Then came 2022. Suddenly Salesforce made less money. The stock wilted. An activist investor, Starboard Value, bought a stake, never good news for management. Mr. Benioff’s co-chief executive, Bret Taylor, abruptly departed …

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