Years before co-founding Salesforce, CEO Marc Benioff started his career the way many people do – as an intern.
Benioff’s first step up the corporate ladder was far from typical. His Apple internship put him close to tech icon and company co-founder Steve Jobs. And the future CEO’s “first boss” was Guy Kawasaki, an early software evangelist in Apple’s Macintosh division. It was Kawasaki who kicked Benioff out of Apple – after a bit of perseverance from the 19-year-old.
In a recent episode of Notable People PodcastKawasaki interviewed its former intern about what he learned working at Apple and how that experience helped him start his own business.
Teenage Benioff was already an entrepreneur when he came into contact with Kawasaki. He had founded a small company that made computer games, called Freedom Softwarewhen he was just 15, then used the money he earned from gambling to pay for his tuition at the University of Southern California.
But Benioff says his ultimate dream at the time was to work for Apple, so he called Kawasaki several times with questions for the software pioneer. Benioff asked Kawasaki about everything from how to get your hands on the latest Macintosh software to how to make writing software more accessible to others.
Kawasaki was impressed with the teenager’s common sense and asked if he had any plans for the summer.
“I told him that I was considering writing software to allow me to go to college,” Benioff wrote in a 2014 CNET Story. “That’s when Guy changed my life forever by asking me, ‘Why not spend the summer of 1984 at Apple?'”
Kawasaki hired Benioff to write 70 coding language programs. While there, Benioff says he not only learned more about computer programming, but also got an idea of how to run a successful tech business.
“I’ve learned from being at Apple that a tech company, a great one, is filled with incredible energy, vitality and sense of urgency,” Benioff said on the podcast. “And at the same time, there was a great culture [at Apple]. Steve Jobs had these Odwalla juices for everyone and the shiatsu masseurs were running up and down the halls, keeping the programmers limber.”
Today, Benioff runs a business valued at $192 billion and has brought $21.3 billion in 2021 revenue. But culture is still something Salesforce is proud of, he says. In 2021, the company ranked second on List of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.
Kawasaki said on the podcast that he always knew Benioff would be successful. He also learned over time how much the CEO of Salesforce values his friendships and lends a helping hand to the people who helped him get to where he is today.
“Every time I tell stories about you, the story I tell is that 36 years after I did you a favor, you did me a favour,” Kawasaki told Benioff on the podcast, referring to the fact that Benioff extended a Salesforce interview to Kawasaki’s son. . “It always stuck with me – that you’re a person who remembers your friends and not everyone else does.”
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