September 22, 2023
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UCSB marine science programs get $60M Benioff gift


Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne Benioff, have donated $60 million to UC Santa Barbara’s marine science programs.

The gift is “one of the largest known gifts anywhere to support ocean research,” UCSB said in its Sept. 21 announcement, and will result in the university’s Marine Biotechnology Lab being renamed for the Benioffs.

The Benioffs had already donated more than $28 million for ocean science programs at UCSB, including $10 million in 2016 to create the Benioff Ocean Initiative, now known as the Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory.

The bulk of the new donation — $50 million — will support and expand that program. Its work so far has included an automated whale detection system for cargo ships, which was piloted in the Santa Barbara Channel and will be expanded to waters off of San Francisco, and new methods of capturing plastic pollution in rivers before it reaches the ocean.

The other $10 million will go toward upgrades and renovations of the Marine Biotechnology Lab, a research facility overlooking UCSB’s Campus Point.

Marc Benioff co-founded Salesforce and is worth about $6.4 billion, according to Forbes. He is among the most philanthropic of the billionaires on Forbes’ list, with gifts and pledges that include $200 million to climate and ecological causes and $350 million to the UC San Francisco medical school for its children’s hospital and research.

Children visit the touch tank at UCSB’s Marine Biotechnology Lab. (courtesy photo)