Salesforce pays Matthew McConaughey $10 million a year to serve as a creative consultant, but laid off 8,000 employees in January to cut costs.
McConaughey, who appeared in a Super Bowl commercial for the software company last year and is a friend of billionaire CEO Marc Benioff, will receive compensation in cash and equity, according to this week’s report from the Wall Street Journal.
Salesforce is San Francisco’s largest private employer, hiring nearly 30,000 employees from the beginning of 2020 to the end of last year.
But in January it announced it would lay off 10 percent of its workforce for overstaffing, according to Benioff, who said he took “full responsibility” for the decision.
Salesforce pays Matthew McConaughey $10 million a year to serve as a creative consultant. He starred in a Super Bowl ad for the company last year (pictured)
Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, who is a friend of McConaughey, justified cost-cutting layoffs last month by saying the actor’s salary pales in comparison to his total payroll
“It’s a pity that you have to say goodbye to people who are in many cases your friends and who you have a relationship with,” he said in an interview with the WSJ in January.
‘But ultimately the success of the company must come first.’
Last year, Salesforce paid McConaughey $5 million to star in a Super Bowl ad that featured the actor in an astronaut suit aboard a hot air balloon.
Last year, McConaughey spoke about his performance in the commercial during an interview with Variety.
He didn’t name the payout, but said he hoped the ad would encourage his fans to better their world. In fact, he said he was picky about which brands and companies he was willing to endorse because he wanted them to align with his values.
He said, “I hope they’re saying, ‘Look, what McConaughey and Salesforce are saying is there’s a problem in today’s society. Our relationship with each other, our relationship with the environment is fragile, man.
“We lack confidence, we lack honesty. We have a lack of sustainable innovations. We lack values.”
The actor also claimed during an interview with Variety last year that he was picky about which brands and companies he was willing to endorse because he wanted them to align with his values.
When asked about the cost of hiring McConaughey, Benioff told the WSJ that his salary and compensation paled in comparison to his company’s 70,000-man payroll.
McConaughey’s compensation was significant enough to get the green light from Salesforce’s compensation committee.
He also claimed that he was not involved in brokering the deal between the Hollywood actor and the tech giant.
After an executive retreat in February, the CEO prepared a year-long strategy on how to cut costs and drive a shift in corporate culture. They spoke about the situation in a memo to employees that was posted on a Slack channel and described to the WSJ.
In a proposed strategic plan, they wrote, “Wellness culture overpowered high-performance culture during the pandemic.”
As part of the new strategy, the company would rank employees based on metrics, including how much money salespeople brought in. Those in the bottom 5 percent would be systematically fired.
They also eliminated perks, including one day off per month and baristas, according to the report. The company cut ties with what was known as the Trailblazer Ranch, where employees enjoyed activities such as hiking and yoga.
Benioff said he overhired during the pandemic, which is part of why the company had to lay off 10 percent of its workforce
But his associates reacted violently to the proposed changes, forcing Benioff to drop the rankings and layoff plans within days.
He said his employees “have made a very impassioned claim that this is not a culture they want to bring to Salesforce.”
Benioff was once known for calling staff “ohana,” or family. “Layoffs are always difficult,” he told the WSJ.
“You can run a business with redundant staff, but that’s not healthy for the business,” he added.
“If you don’t have a performance culture and you don’t run the company with that kind of effectiveness, you’re not doing anyone a favor.”
In January, the enterprise software provider said that “the environment remains challenging and our customers are taking a more measured approach to their purchasing decisions.”
Salesforce hired aggressively during the first two years of the pandemic as companies bought products to transition to remote work. The company also acquired the popular work messaging application Slack at the time.
The company’s stock is down nearly 46 percent over the past year.