Salesforce updated its acceptable-use policy to ban gun retailers who use Salesforce to market, manage, or fulfill semi-automatic weapons orders. The ban also covers parts like “multi-burst trigger devices” and large magazines. The policy goes into effect for current customers at renewal.
According to Salesforce, only a small number of current customers are impacted. The firm declined to name retailers, but Camping World, which spends over $1 million per year on Salesforce technology, is likely to be impacted. The Washington Post estimated Camping World’s migration costs to be over $2 million.
Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation called the policy “corporate-policy virtue signaling.”
“It is a very chilling effect when a company as large as Salesforce puts out a policy like this,” said Oliva. “A policy like this is not surprising from a company based in that part of the country.”
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff called for banning the AR-15 last year following the Parkland shooting and donated $1 million to March for Our Lives. The firm and Benioff have a history of taking political stands including support for a US GDPR (data privacy), corporate taxes in San Francisco to support the homeless, and LGBTQ rights.
Shopify, which provides e-commerce software to 800,000 sites, implemented a similar anti-automatic weapon sales policy last year.
While many firms operate with a profit maximizing philosophy espoused by economist Milton Friedman, Salesforce is managed with a stakeholder’s philosophy that weighs other stakeholders besides shareholders. These parties include employees, partners, customers, the environment, and society in general. CEO Marc Benioff created the 1-1-1 pledge 18 years ago which donates 1% of corporate technology, people, and resources.
While Oliva derides Salesforce’s new policy as “virtue signaling,” such policies, when transparently stated, may be profit maximizing. A firm that is viewed as ethical and socially progressive may attract more customers, partners, investors, and employees than it repels. Simple profit maximization requires that firms take an amoral stand which can result in scandals or embarrassing business practices which undermine brand value and company credibility.
If you’d like to comment on this blog, I have setup a forum on Quora for discussing Salesforce’s policy.