Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff made a statement by wearing an American flag pin on his lapel

Marc Benioff American flag pin
Marc Benioff wore an American flag pin on Tuesday at the opening ceremony for Salesforce Tower.

Melia Robinson and Samantha Lee/Business Insider

SAN FRANCISCO — Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has made the media rounds in recent weeks proposing a national privacy law to regulate how tech companies handle data. He’s even said that Facebook should be regulated like the tobacco industry.

Benioff’s lapel is frequently bare.

Justin Sullivan / Getty

But on Tuesday, speaking to the who’s who of San Francisco grandees for the official tape cutting ceremony of Salesforce Tower, Benioff made a different political statement: he donned an American flag pin on his lapel.

American flag pins are dime a dozen in the world of politics. President Trump is rarely seen without one, and it’s a key component of Tina Fey’s costume when she plays Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live.

But even President Obama doesn’t wear one unless he is campaigning for a democratic candidate or meeting with past presidents. And such pins are nearly unheard of in Silicon Valley.

Marc Benioff, with his wife Lynne, wore an LGBTQ pride pin to a GLAAD event in 2016.

Trisha Leeper / Stringer

People familiar with Benioff’s habits said he’s been known to wear a flag pin from time-to-time. He has a pin with the American and Swiss flags crossing which he wears to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. And he’s previously been photographed with an LGBTQ pride flag at a GLAAD gala.

Benioff also wore an American flag pin to his April 15 appearance on 60 Minutes, where he talked about closing the wage gap.

While Tuesday’s event was as much a celebration of Salesforce Tower as it was of local San Francisco politics, the lapel pin stands out as one of Benioff’s most public and explicit displays of politician-level American patriotism.

When Benioff was photographed in a tuxedo at the White House in 2015 for a state dinner in honor of Chinese President Xi Jinping, he wasn’t wearing a pin.

He didn’t wear one when he co-hosted the Dinner for Equality in 2016, nor did he wear one at South by Southwest conference in March.

So what made Tuesday’s event American flag pin worthy? Perhaps it was the presence of San Francisco political figures, like former mayor Willie Brown, the interim mayor Mark Farrell or city supervisor and mayoral candidate Jane Kim.

Perhaps it was Benioff’s focus during his speech, in which he discussed San Franciscan’s civic duty to help end homelessness in the city, and announced the $3 million donation made by Benioff, his wife Lynne and to the Hamilton Families’ Heading Home Initiative.

Perhaps Benioff’s flag pin was nothing more than a spur of the moment accessory choice.

Or maybe — just maybe — it’s a sign that Benioff has his eyes on a more formal role in the political arena.

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