Tech CEO: May cut Ga. investment over ‘religious liberty’ bill

Feb. 9, 2016 – Atlanta – Bill Witherspoon, Decatur, came in support of the rally. Anti-religious liberty bill lawmakers and activists rally outside the statehouse Tuesday, the day after a measure to outlaw discrimination against the LBGT community was shot down in the House and the day before Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, is expected to attract thousands to the street ringing the Capitol to support Religious Liberty legislation. Two bills, one to allow businesses to discriminate against gays, and another that makes it easier to sue in state court for discrimination (except if the person being discriminated against is gay) are expected to be approved Tuesday by a key House committee. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

The CEO of a big tech company suggested he may cut its Georgia presence if the state enacts a “religious liberty” law allowing same-sex marriage opponents to cite religious beliefs in denying services to gay couples.

Salesforce chief Marc Benioff was among the most vocal business leaders fighting similar legislation in Indiana last year. The Indiana bill passed, but was quickly amended in response to a firestorm of complaints, including some from businesses that warned the law would allow discrimination of their employees.

During a recent call with financial analysts, Benioff said: “we’re looking squarely at what’s going on in Georgia with House Bill 757, which means that we may have to reduce our investments in the state of Georgia, based on what we’re seeing with the state government there as well. And I hope that they see the light the way that the state of Indiana did.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently reported that Benioff said in a CNBC interview that he was “worried” about the Georgia legislation and he called on Apple CEO Tim Cook to focus on fighting it.

Salesforce, based in San Francisco, has nearly 20,000 employees worldwide. Last year, it has more than 400 employees in the local region, according to a report in the AJC.

Supporters of the Georgia legislation say it doesn’t interfere with the business community.

“I want you to understand, this legislation is about equal protection and not discrimination,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus.

Salesforce has a Buckhead office that includes Pardot, a tech business sold to what is now a Salesforce subsidiary by Atlanta entrepreneurs David Cummings and Adam Blitzer for nearly $100 million. Cummings used some of those proceeds to launch Atlanta Tech Village, which has become a top spot for local startups.

Read more about the legislative debate here.

Reader Comments 0


Yeah, cut off your access to GT's graduates - that makes sense.  What an idiot.  

Tolerance for me, not for Thee.  As usual, the so called "tolerant ones" are the biggest hypocrites of all.  


Don't let the door knob dig in your crack on the way out.