- Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff told CNBC that it was clear Facebook was a “train wreck” even before its year of scandals.
- Benioff attacked Facebook in January 2018 at The World Economic Forum in Davos, claiming it was as addictive as tobacco and should be regulated.
- Benioff said Sheryl Sandberg got in touch afterwards to say she would send him a “variety of materials” disproving his claims. Benioff said the materials never arrived, Facebook said they were sent.
Marc Benioff said in an interview with CNBC that Facebook looked like a “train wreck” even before it was beset by a series of crippling scandals last year.
In January 2018, the Salesforce CEO publicly attacked Facebook at the World Economic Forum in Davos, saying it needed to be regulated like the cigarette industry because its product was equally addictive.
Benioff told CNBC that he hadn’t planned to come after the social network in advance. It was conversations with hedge fund billionaire Jim Steyer and tech investor Roger McNamee, who initially was an advisor to Mark Zuckerberg but has since become one of Facebook’s most vocal critics, that got him thinking.
Benioff said he came to the conclusion that Facebook “was a train wreck and that the management team was making it worse.”
Since making the comments in Davos, Facebook was embroiled in the giant Cambridge Analytica data scandal and has been firefighting issues including fake news, inappropriate content, and election meddling.
After the footage of Benioff attacking Facebook went viral, COO Sheryl Sandberg got in touch.
“Her response and others was that it wasn’t true what I was saying and they were going to send me a variety of materials to prove to me that I did not understand the situation,” said Benioff.
“I said I’d be happy to change my position if they sent me those materials that showed I was wrong. Maybe I was wrong, and I’m happy to fall on my sword.”
“But of course those materials never arrived,” he added.
When contacted by CNBC, Facebook said it had sent him the materials on April 6. It did not make clear what these documents consisted of. Business Insider has contacted the company for comment.
Whether or not Facebook sent the materials, Benioff’s position seems unchanged, as he doubled down on the cigarette analogy in November in an interview with Kara Swisher for MSNBC News.