Salesforces annual conference Dreamforce is always a microcosm of the technology industry. On day one of the event, we had a fireside chat with Marc Benioff and Travis Kalanick, the CEOs of Salesforce and Uber, respectively. In the fireside, Benioff pitched mainly softball questions to Kalanick, with the odd contentious one thrown in for good measure. (Disclosure: Salesforce covered my travel and expenses to attend the event.)
One slightly uncomfortable question for Kalanick was when Benioff reflected on recent bad press that Amazon has gotten for the way it treats its employees. Benioff asked Kalanick for his views on the issue and how to know if Uber had a heart. Kalanick, who has been described as both a “jerk” and “ego personified“, fumbled. After an uncomfortable pause, Kalanick made a throwaway comment about the fact this his own heart was beating. His response, that Amazon has tens of thousands of people coming to work each day, so it must be doing something right, showed a surprising lack of awareness.