All-time tech good guy Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne announced this morning that they would be donating $100 million to two Bay Area children's hospitals, a donation that will see Oakland Children's Hospital renamed in honor of the couple. Children's Hospital Oakland will henceforth be called UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, and the current UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital will be renamed UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco. Together, the hospitals will be named UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. Got that?
"We have been deeply inspired by the incredible kids, doctors, researchers, and administrators at both UCSF and Children's Hospital Oakland," said the couple in a statement. "We feel extremely fortunate to have this opportunity to support the best children's hospitals in the world." Benioff is the CEO of San Francisco-based cloud computing company Salesforce, and (spoiler alert!) the subject of an upcoming cover story in San Francisco magazine. (In an interview with editor-in-chief Jon Steinberg, to be published later this month, Benioff indicated that this gift signals a conscious pivot in his attentions toward the East Bay. "Oakland is a huge community of promise," he said, speaking of both the city's human assets and its commercial upside. "Oakland's potential is in some ways greater than SF's now[...] It's where we're going to have the biggest opportunity to grow and expand.")
The two children's hospitals, which merged earlier this year, announced that they would use the gift to fund their patient care and clinical research, as well as to expand their facilities. Part of the money will go towards the ongoing construction of a new children's hospital in San Francisco. The UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Mission Bay is part of a 289-bed integrated hospital complex for children, women, and cancer patients that is opening in February 2015. “The generosity and commitment of Marc and Lynne Benioff will strengthen Oakland’s thriving medical research community and ensure doctors on both sides of the Bay have world-class facilities to care for children, regardless of income,” said Governor Jerry Brown in a statement.
Benioff, once described snarkily by Valleywag as the "Ron Burgundy of tech," has in recent years become more like the Warren Hellman of tech. The Salesforce CEO, worth an estimated $3 billion, previously donated $100 million to the UCSF Children's' Hospital, as well as $2.7 million to local middle schools via his company's foundation, and $1.5 million to efforts to combat homelessness. Last month he launched SF Gives, a partnership with the Tipping Point Community, a local philanthropic clearinghouse run by charity wunderkind Daniel Lurie, to fund anti-poverty programs around the Bay Area. That effort, which aims to raise $10 million by early May, quickly notched commitments from technology companies including LinkedIn, Google, Zynga, Dropbox, PopSugar, Jawbone, and Box.
The donations come at a time in which San Francisco residents have become increasingly concerned with the affordability impacts of the booming tech sector, as well as a smattering of cultural changes in the Bay Area (like, you know, $4 toast). Google, whose private shuttles have been turned by activists into a symbol of these changes, recently donated $6.8 million to the city of San Francisco to fund bus passes for low-income youth. Today's announcement seems to continue that counter-narrative of earnest tech leaders and well-meaning companies giving back with a vengeance.