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Lunch with a billionaire is the only thing going cheap in San Francisco 

A man with long, dark hair tied back, wearing a blue suit and white shirt, looks seriously at the camera, standing outdoors by greenery.
Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff took over this year from legendary investor Warren Buffett as the top prize in the annual Power of One Charity Lunch Auction, which raises funds for the Glide Foundation. | Source: Justin Katigbak/The Standard

Marc Benioff might have the biggest building in town, but he falls way short of another famed billionaire in his attractiveness as a power-lunch partner. 

The Salesforce co-founder and CEO took over this year from legendary investor Warren Buffett as the top prize in the annual Power of One Charity Lunch Auction, which raises funds for the Glide Foundation, the nonprofit charity arm of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood.

Benioff’s inaugural winning bidder paid $200,100 for the privilege of having lunch with the tech mogul. 

That sounds like an expensive lunch date. But it’s barely 1% of the record-breaking $19 million someone paid to secure a lunch with Buffett in 2022, his last year of participation. 

An elderly man in a suit speaks animatedly, seated in a leather chair, against a backdrop of bookshelves and framed art.
The Glide Foundation received $53 million over the years from investors who wanted a private lunch with Warren Buffett. | Source: Nati Harnik/AP

In a generous flourish, Benioff’s bidder threw in an extra $1.3 million to get the donation into the seven-figure range. 

But the last time a winning bid for Buffet was as low as even Benioff’s inflated number was back in 2013, when the general trend line of rising bids for lunch with the Oracle of Omaha faced a bit of a slump, perhaps related to the limping economy. That figure? A mere $1 million. 

Prior to that down year, the last time the winning bid for a buffet with Buffett was as low as Benioff’s was in 2007. Back then, the lunch went for $650,100. For those in Gen Z, that was when George W. Bush was still president, gas was under $3 a gallon and Netflix was mainly mailing DVDs. Buffett was a spry 76; now, he’s 93. 

The Power of One Lunch program, which launched in 2000, was the brainchild of Buffett’s late wife, Susie Buffett, a longtime San Francisco resident and a volunteer at Glide, which describes its mission as “addressing some of society’s most pressing issues, including poverty, housing and homelessness, and racial and social justice.” Over more than two decades, the fundraiser has brought in around $53 million for the organization.

Well, make that $54 million with Benioff’s addition to the collection plate.

Kevin Truong can be reached at kevin@sfstandard.com