Marc Benioff, the billionaire founder of Salesforce, said he bought TIME magazine because he sees a “crisis of trust,” and he called Facebook the new “cigarettes” of society, according to a report by CNN.
“Well, you can see Facebook is the new cigarettes for our society. It’s something that badly needs to be regulated,” he said. “They’re certainly not exactly about truth in advertising. Even they have said that. That’s why we’re really in squarely a crisis of trust, when the core vendor themselves cannot say that trust is our most important value. Look, we’re at a moment in time where each one of us in every company has to ask a question: What is our highest value?”
Benioff has repeatedly called for the social media giant to be broken up, and said he sees it happening eventually.
“I expect a fundamental reconceptualization of what Facebook’s role is in the world,” Benioff said. “When you have an entity that large with that much potential impact, and not fundamentally doing good things to improve the state of the world, well, then I think everyone is going to have it in its crosshairs.”
Facebook pushed back against this idea to CNN.
“While some may see antitrust action as a catch-all solution to address all social policy, the fact is that antitrust law is not intended to punish a company because you disagree with its leadership or dislike the product, or to impose liability where companies are seeking to compete vigorously — and even win — on the merits,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
Benioff, along with his wife Lynne, bought TIME for $190 million last year from the Meredith Corporation. The couple is among a few high-profile billionaires who have recently purchased legacy media properties. That list includes Laurene Powell Jobs, who purchased a majority stake in The Atlantic, and Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, who bought The Washington Post.
Benioff said his aim was for TIME to be “unshackled” from worrying about financials and to provide accurate, truthful information to its readers.
Benioff said the print magazine is more popular than it’s ever been, and that the recent “Person of the Year” issue featuring young climate activist Greta Thunberg is “probably the most successful issue of TIME magazine of all time.”
Despite the fact that Benioff often speaks about climate change as an issue he cares about, he said he is not involved with any editorial decisions at the magazine.
“We have our hands full already with lots of other exciting things that we do every single day,” he said. “But we want to be able to be the stewards of the historic brand and give them this ability to move forward.”