CEO Gifted App Store Trademark to Apple in Thanks

Marc Benioff, CEO of, presented Steve Jobs and Apple with the trademark and domain for App Store as a gesture of thanks. Speaking in one of the many executive interviews and comments that have taken place since Steve Jobs announced that his resignation as CEO of Apple, Mr. Benioff said he gave away the domain and trademark because of help that Mr. Jobs had given him in 2003.

“He has probably given me more help and more advice than just about anybody,” Mr. Benioff said in an interview with Bloomberg (see the interview below). “When I get in trouble, and I kind of get lost in my own vision, I’ve been fortunate to be able to go and see him. He’s been able to show me the future a couple of times where I [got lost trying to see] the forest from the trees.

Marc Benioff, CEO of

Marc Benioff, CEO of, Interviewed by Bloomberg

He said that a particularly fine example of that was a trip he and some of his executive team made to Apple’s campus to meet with Mr. Jobs in 2003. During that meeting, Mr. Jobs told him, “Look, you’ve got a fantastic enterprise application here, but you’ve got to build an ecosystem.”

According to Mr. Benioff, he and his executives took that message back with them and treated it like a Zen koan. “So to us, we went back and we were like, ‘We don’t know how to do that. How do we build an ecosystem?’” he said.

The result was the idea of selling software from an online store front, software that could then be run within the company’s enterprise platform, the self-titled Salesforce. They launched it under the name App Exchange, but bought the URL and trademarked “APP STORE” at the same time.

Cut to 2008, when Steve Jobs announced its own “App Store” for iPhone Apps. “I was in the audience when he announced App Store,” Mr. Benioff said, “and I went up to him and said, ‘I have a gift for you. I’m going to give you the trademark and the URL because of the help you gave me in 2003.’”

For what it’s worth, Mr. Benioff also said that he believes Apple can remain on top for some time without Steve Jobs as the CEO.

You can watch the full interview at Bloomberg’s site.