Warren Buffett has left the table. Homeless charity asks investors to bid on meal with software CEO

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The California homeless charity that received $53 million over the years from investors who wanted a private lunch with billionaire Warren Buffett has found a new business executive to auction off a meal with.

The Glide Foundation said Tuesday that it will hold an auction on eBay next month for a private lunch with Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff. The San Francisco-based charity helps the homeless and those in poverty in the same city where Benioff oversees a software empire.

The final auction of a lunch with Buffett two years ago attracted a record $19 million price that isn’t likely to be matched. The revered investor has legions of devoted followers who fill an Omaha arena every spring at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting to listen to Buffett’s insights, and he had said ahead of time that 2022 would be his last auction.

Still, Glide hopes that the Benioff auction will also raise significant funds to support the organization’s $31 million budget, which provides meals, health care, job training, rehabilitation and housing for the poor and homeless. Buffett said it always amazed him how the charity helped people in difficult situations find hope again.

“We are so grateful that Marc Benioff is continuing Warren Buffett’s legacy of supporting San Francisco’s most vulnerable,” said Dr. Gina M. Fromer, Glide’s President and CEO.

Buffett’s first wife, Susie, introduced him to Glide after she volunteered there following her move to the city, and she suggested starting the lunch auction in 2000. She died in 2004, but the connection endured.

Buffett endorsed the new arrangement from his office at Berkshire’s small headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. Benioff has urged his fellow CEOs to do more to help the homeless and remedy the inequalities in society that they helped create. He’s also taken stands on polarizing issues such as gay rights, climate change and gun control.

“The baton is in the right hands with Marc Benioff,” Buffett said. “He’s going to do a wonderful job improving on what I did over the years. With Marc’s enthusiasm and commitment, along with GLIDE’s leadership and volunteers, GLIDE will be able to continue providing its vital services for San Francisco.”

Benioff said he’s “incredibly humbled to continue Warren’s legacy” with the lunch auction.

Just as the Buffett auctions did, the weeklong Benioff lunch auction will begin May 5 with an opening bid of $25,000 and continue through May 10.

Organizers have their work cut out for them if they’re attempting to match Buffett’s record. Starting in 2008, every winning bid for lunch with the investing giant topped $1 million.

One past winner, Ted Weschler, received a job offer from Buffett’s company after he spent nearly $5.3 million on two auctions in 2010 and 2011. Weschler now works as an investment manager for the conglomerate, which owns an eclectic assortment of companies including Geico insurance, BNSF railroad, See’s Candy, several major utilities and Dairy Queen.

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Follow Josh Funk online at www.twitter.com/funkwrite

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This story has been corrected to show the auction ends May 10.

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Published: 10 Apr 2024, 05:02 AM IST

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