Although Salesforce’s CEO Marc Benioff has donated generously to political campaigns, he emphasizes, “I’m not a Democrat, I’m not a Republican, I’m an American.” He has contributed to President Obama and Nancy Pelosi, but also to the National Republican Congressional Committee and to individual Republican candidates. “If I like someone, I’ll give them money, but I’m not particularly close to anyone.”
He outlined four things he would ask of any politician before donating money:
1. The government should give more H1-B Visas to bright overseas students who study in U.S. Universities so they can stay and work in the tech industry. The visas should be “stapled” to them when they graduate, joked Benioff. The U.S. grants 85, 000 a year, but the supply is usually exhausted in a few days.
2. Patent reform. Benioff said, “Patent trolls have become a huge problem in our industry.” Benioff described the bill to combat this problem called the Innovation Act, supported by Eric Cantor and Nancy Pelosi, but in the Senate, “Harry Reid killed it. Everybody supported it. The President supported it. The Senate killed it. It would have created patent reform in our industry.”
3. Companies should be taxed in the U.S. at a reasonable rate to avoid tax inversion: “We need repatriation, ” said Benioff. Companies need to have the available fund to grow their businesses domestically. He suggests a reasonable tax rate for corporations at 15-20% rather than the current rate of 35%.
4. Financial reforms, reminiscent of those proposed by the 2010 committee Simpson Bowles. “We need greater financial security for our country, ” said Benioff. “We need a balanced budget, things like Simpson Bowles needs to pass so we can have confidence that entitlements are going forward.”