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Tech Billionaire Tries to Ease Fears of Hawaii Takeover by Donating $150 Million to Hospitals

Written by teobrito.com

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Last week, it was revealed that Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff had been buying up lots of land in Hawaii at an accelerating clip. Benioff, who is worth billions and billions of dollars, has procured approximately $100 million in land parcels throughout the Big Island via a series of nondescript LLCs. He’s been quite cagey about what most of this land is for and was more than a little bit hostile with the NPR journalist who broke the story about it. Now, in what really seems like an effort to save face, Benioff has announced he’ll be donating $150 million to regional hospitals.

On Tuesday, Benioff said that he would be donating millions to Hawaii’s healthcare system. The money will go to the Hilo Medical Center as well as Hawaii Pacific Health. Additional funds will go to UCSF Health in San Francisco. While the press release associated with the donation claims that Benioff’s gift was “developed over more than a year of collaboration,” it’s certainly convenient timing given the fact that Benioff just had some really bad press last week.

“We feel fortunate to have been part of the Hawaii community for many decades and to be able to support our ohana in this way,” the Benioffs said in their statement shared with the press. “Nothing is more important than the health of our community and access to care for all who need it.”

NPR’s story about Benioff’s land acquisitions caused quite a stir, partially because of Benioff’s weird behavior with the journalist who reported the story. Dara Kerr, who interviewed Benioff at one of his island residences, says that the billionaire knew an odd amount about her and her family and later called her boss, the head executive at NPR, to complain after she and a photographer were seen taking pictures at one of his properties.

While Kerr wrote in her report that “the majority of Benioff’s land buys haven’t been about Salesforce or his philanthropy — but rather for personal use,” a spokesperson for Benioff now seems to be disputing that. The spokesperson told Quartz that “almost 75% of the land purchased” since Benioff began buying in Hawaii some 25 years ago “has been donated to philanthropic causes, including more than 90% of the land bought since 2020.” The spokesperson added that Benioff has “gifted 282 acres of land to a nonprofit building affordable housing on the Big Island and 158 acres to a separate nonprofit entity.”

Gizmodo reached out to Salesforce for additional comment from Benioff and will update this story when we receive a response.

While I’m sure Hawaii’s hospitals will appreciate Benioff’s money, it’s kind of unfortunate that rich people think they can justify anything by just throwing more money around. We don’t really know what Benioff is doing with all of his properties but the bottom line is this: One person really doesn’t need that much land.

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