Owning Twitter Could Bring Salesforce New Power

He oversees a technology empire in Northern California. He attracts huge audiences to his company's events. And he's celebrated for his philanthropy and social activism.

The descriptions might bring to mind Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook or Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg. But they apply just as well to Marc Benioff [pictured above].

The founder and CEO of sales and marketing software giant Salesforce.com Inc., Benioff has commanded a major presence in Silicon Valley since emerging as a hotshot salesman at Oracle Corp. in the 1980s. Outside the worlds of sales, technology and philanthropy though, Benioff is hardly a household name.

His stature could change soon if Salesforce goes through with a considered multibillion-dollar acquisition of Twitter, the social media service that's among the world's most-used apps.

Though the Salesforce logo hangs on gleaming towers around the world and on computer screens inside Sprint, Delta Airlines and its other customers, Twitter's blue bird is far more recognizable, dotting news websites, TV shows and more than 250 million smartphones.

Owning Twitter would turn up the global spotlight on Salesforce, and by association, its charismatic leader.

Extra attention wouldn't be the driving force for taking up Twitter, but it could be among many secondary motivations, people who know or follow Benioff said. For one, increasing his prominence could make Benioff an even more significant force in the cultural, educational and medical issues he's weighed in on around the world, philanthropy experts said.

"He is poised to emerge as one of the most important philanthropists in the world," said Trevor Neilson, who's advised Bill Gates and Angelina Jolie on donations and co-founded consultancy Global Philanthropy Group. "Benioff has already established himself as one of the most generous donors in the Bay Area, and an acquisition of Twitter would expand his global influence."

Salesforce declined to comment on rumors about its interest...

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