True gift of friendship:- What Salesforce, Apple and Star Trek have in common: Benioff’s gift to Jobs bears fruit

Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase


Upstart of the day—Three years before the death of Apple’s co-founder, Marc Benioff gave Steve Jobs a valuable gift by handing over the AppStore name and trademark. Now that app developers can create vanity URLs using the gifted domain, it’s worth acknowledging the legacy of the Salesforce founder’s gift.


Pay attention techies and Trekkies, flying under the media radar last week, Applelaunched custom short links (aka vanity URLs) under the domain. And Sunday, that domain—a gift from one billionaire chief executive to another—bore its first fruit, with what seems to be the first vanity app URL:, for the upcomingStar Trek movie.


It turns out that when Steve Jobs announced the launch of the App Store back in 2008,Salesforce founder Marc Benioff was in the audience. Benioff, who owned both theAppStore domain and the trademark, committed one whopper of an act of kindness when he walked up to Jobs, right then and there, and gave him both.


“I have a gift for you,” Benioff told Jobs in aBloomberg interview. “I’m going to give you the trademark and the URL for AppStore because of all the help you gave me in 2003.”


That help went to the core of the business model for Salesforce (NYSE: CSM), which at the time Jobs described as an “enterprise application,” but which he told Benioff should be built into an entire ecosystem.


The application eventually launched as Salesforce’s AppExchange. Benioff also acquired the AppStore rights, which he handed to Jobs for free five years later.


For some perspective here, (an app that is sort of like a Pinterest for porn) sold for a record-setting $13 million in 2010. Last year, the biggest domain sales were ($2.45 million) and ($1 million).


That the App Store is now a platform for more than 1,000,000 apps gives an idea of how valuable Benioff’s gift might actually be. In a time when Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has become a controversial”trademarker” of everything from rounded corners to the recessed lighting of its brick-and-mortar stores, the gift is a refreshing reminder of one act of intellectual generosity being rewarded by another.




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