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  • Writer's pictureRealFacts Editorial Team

Investor Backlash: Salesforce Shareholders Reject Benioff’s $39.6M Pay Plan

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Salesforce’s Board stated this week, “Our Compensation Committee, responsible for designing and administering our executive compensation program, values stockholders opinions and will consider this vote in future decisions.” At their annual meeting, Salesforce shareholders decisively voted against the proposed executive compensation plan for CEO Marc Benioff and other top executives. While 339.3 million votes were in favor, the plan was ultimately defeated with 404.8 million votes against. This outcome followed recommendations from prominent shareholder advisory firms Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), both of which advised investors to oppose the plan. They cited concerns over the excessive equity awards to Benioff, given his significant existing ownership in the company.

Benioff’s total compensation for the 2024 fiscal year rose to $39.6 million, up from $29.9 million the previous year, largely due to stock options, equity awards, and other incentives. His base salary remained at $1.55 million. The compensation committee defended a $20 million additional equity grant, citing strong financial performance and transformative initiatives. However, Glass Lewis criticized these discretionary grants, questioning their necessity given Benioff’s substantial stake in Salesforce.

The rejection of the compensation plan by shareholders, though non-binding, sends a clear message to Salesforce’s board about the need for stricter oversight and justification of executive pay. The board has acknowledged the vote and pledged to consider shareholder input in future compensation decisions. Despite the controversy, Salesforce reported robust financial results, including significant increases in net income and share value during the 2024 fiscal year. The company also announced layoffs and plans to initiate dividend payments, responding to activist investor pressures while balancing growth and profitability.


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