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Technology Salesforce Conference Interrupted by Immigration Protesters

01:10  20 november  2019
01:10  20 november  2019 Source:   bloomberg.com

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(Bloomberg) -- Salesforce.com Inc.’s annual software conference in San Francisco, where it introduces new products and discusses its commitment to social causes, was interrupted for the second year in a row by protests against the company’s work with the U.S. government.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Attendees stand in the lobby area of the the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.© Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg Attendees stand in the lobby area of the the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

Co-Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff’s keynote speech was twice halted by activists complaining about the software maker’s contract with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency that guards the U.S.-Mexico border and intercepts many immigrants. The first protester described Salesforce’s work as helping to support “concentration camps,” a reference to migrant detention facilities.

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Benioff told the first protester he would get 30 seconds to speak, then be asked to leave. Salesforce put a 30-second clock on the multimedia screen at a convention center room where Benioff was giving his Dreamforce presentation. After the time elapsed, security escorted the protester out of the room.

“I want to tell you why I stopped the program and let him speak for 30 seconds,” Benioff said. “It’s because I value free speech in this country. I value everybody’s speech. When we’re talking about doing it together, all the voices have to be included. So I am so happy to hear from everyone today, who has every point of view and will take everything into consideration.”

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When a second group of protesters interrupted Benioff’s remarks, he didn’t give them time to speak.

Benioff has made clear in the past that he would not cancel Salesforce’s contract with CBP, which he says doesn’t play a role in the agency’s enforcement of controversial immigration policies. He has described Salesforce, the leader in customer-relations software for the cloud, as a good corporate citizen, having donated 1% of its equity, products, and employees’ time to philanthropic causes -- a model that has been emulated by many younger software companies. Still, hundreds of Benioff’s employees called on him to reconsider the contract in 2018 and activists have continued to speak out against the deal. Last year, protesters brought a cage outside the Dreamforce conference to speak out against the CBP contract.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Attendees stand in the lobby area of the the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.© Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg Attendees stand in the lobby area of the the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

Apart from the protests, Salesforce announced greater advancements with its voice-based artificial intelligence system, an expanded partnership with Amazon.com Inc.’s cloud-computing unit and more functionality in its Customer 360 initiative, which lets corporate clients unify data about their customers in one place.

Record turnout in Hong Kong election seen as a referendum on the pro-democracy protest movement

  Record turnout in Hong Kong election seen as a referendum on the pro-democracy protest movement On a rare protest-free Sunday, Voters waited in hours-long lines to exercise their right to choose.The turnout — more than 69 percent of the 4.13 million eligible voters had cast ballots for representatives to their local district councils an hour before polls closed — was significantly higher than the 1.4 million who voted in local elections in 2015. Voter registration was also a record high, driven in part by 390,000 first-time voters.

Benioff later held a fireside chat with Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook. The two executives discussed the growing partnership between their companies as more clients use iPhones for work; Apple’s commitment to user data privacy; and Cook’s focus on sustainability efforts. Cook also joined the conversation about immigration. He mentioned his strong support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy that lets some people who migrated to the U.S. as children legally stay in the country.

(Updates with Cook’s appearance in the final paragraph. An earlier version of this story corrected the name of the agency in the second paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Nico Grant in San Francisco at ngrant20@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew Pollack, Alistair Barr

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

As Beijing seethes, protesters celebrate Trump's signing of Hong Kong act .
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