Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff has been known to hobnob with celebrities—the company has brought in luminaries like Stevie Wonder, U2, and Will.i.am for its annual Dreamforce customer event. So it’s probably not a huge shock that comedian Chris Rock made a surprise appearance at the company’s annual sales kickoff last week.
Rock’s humor can be controversial, so in his introduction, Benioff cautioned that the upcoming set might be racier than the company’s normal fare and that those who might be offended might want to leave early, according to sources, one of whom was at the employees-only event.
Then Rock took the stage. For the most part the set, which capped the first day’s events, was a hit. But some of Rock’s material, referencing his own recent divorce and women marrying wealthy men, rubbed some in the room the wrong way.
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Most notably, those remarks apparently did not sit well with Stephanie Buscemi, Salesforce’s executive vice president of products and solutions marketing, who stood up, requested the microphone, and talked about how offended she was by these comments.
This is a sticky wicket for Benioff, who is known for taking progressive stances on issues including support for gender pay equality. Benioff has also been vocal in his support on LGBT rights in the face of North Carolina’s controversial bathroom law. But he’s also known to love associating with stars and celebrities, two habits which can conflict, as seen here.
A spokeswoman said Salesforce (CRM) does not comment on closed-door events.
Rock, who apparently flew to San Francisco at his own expense to try out new material for his Total Blackout tour at the Salesforce confab, then said something along the lines of, “Sorry, aight, I’m out,” and left the stage, as the audience sat for in awkward silence for what seemed to be a long time.
Then Benioff stood up to wish everyone a good night.