Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Took 10-Day Digital Detox After Layoffs

  • Salesforce chief Marc Benioff told NYT he went on a 10-day digital detox as the company started layoffs.
  • Benioff wrote in a text that he’s “addicted” to his devices, and said the vacation was “freeing.”
  • The January layoffs announcement have led to questions from employees, Insider previously reported.

As layoffs shook up Salesforce, CEO Marc Benioff went on a 10-day “digital detox” trip to French Polynesia, he told The New York Times.

A digital detox is a trend in which someone foregoes the use of digital devices, like phones or computers, for a period of time — often with the intent to feel more present or less dependent on social media to fill time.

“We are so addicted to our devices (at least I am) it’s very freeing to leave them all behind for a while!” he texted NYT in a series of interviews.

Benioff’s digital detox offers an interesting glimpse into how one tech CEO navigated a time of change at the company, seeking out a temporary period of quiet, free of digital communication.

Salesforce workers knew at the beginning of the new year to expect cuts to thousands of jobs. On January 4, Benioff announced that Salesforce was planning to cut around 10% of its 84,000 workforce over the following weeks.

In a letter to employees, Benioff blamed the layoffs on the company hiring too many people during the pandemic as “revenue accelerated,” and took “responsibility” for hiring people leading into the current “economic downturn.”

The news drew confusion and questions for Benioff from employees, but the executive didn’t answer questions about the layoffs on a two-hour all-hands meeting with employees the following day, Insider reported. Most of Salesforce’s employees were confused about when layoffs would come and for who, according to Slack messages reviewed by Insider.

In the all-hands call the day after layoffs, Benioff compared losing employees to layoffs to mourning people who died. Insider reported that he showed up around 18 minutes late to a company-wide meeting the day after announcing layoffs, and then, as the Times of London reported, he joked, “Did I miss something?”

Salesforce did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

He told the NYT that he now thinks the two-hour all-hands call was a bad idea.

“We were trying to explain the unexplainable,” Benioff told the NYT. “It’s hard to have a call like that with such a large group and have it be effective, and we paid a price.”

After Salesforce started laying off workers, over 500 employees sent a letter to management expressing “isolation from the lack of information,” and asking questions like why some managers weren’t involved with or knowledgeable about the first round of layoffs, and if the cuts had anything to do with Salesforce’s activist investors.

Salesforce continued its planned layoffs in February, with one person telling Insider it was a “bloodbath” for sales and marketing employees. It’s unclear how many people have been laid off to date, but one person told Insider 4,000 people were missing from the company Slack after January 31, but could include contractors who were removed after the fiscal year ended.

The cuts at Salesforce are happening as many tech companies, ranging from Google to Meta to Microsoft, have culled their employee base by thousands — with potentially more cuts on the horizon as executives look to cut costs after the pandemic business boom.

Are you a Salesforce employee or do you have insight to share? Contact Ashley Stewart via email ( or send a secure message from a nonwork device via Signal (+1-425-344-8242).

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