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Salesforce Tower transforms San Francisco skyline

But 1,070-foot ode to technology industry has been the subject of much debate and controversy in city

San Francisco

SALESFORCE.COM'S chief executive officer Marc Benioff formally opened Salesforce Tower, a 1,070-foot ode to the technology industry that has transformed San Francisco's skyline.

The building, the tallest office tower west of the Mississippi river, opened with a ceremony crowded with local officials on Tuesday (Wednesday morning, Singapore time), representing the indelible mark San Francisco's largest private employer has made on the city.

Developed by Boston Properties and Hines, the skyscraper is at the heart of San Francisco's Transbay district, where offices and luxury condominiums are rising around a new transit hub. Just last week, Facebook agreed to lease a tower in the area.

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Since its construction, the Salesforce tower has been the subject of much debate and controversy in San Francisco.

Some residents see it as a blight on the skyline, an irksome reminder of the influence of big tech on the city and its culture.

On Tuesday, the building's developers described it as a symbol of San Francisco's prosperity and innovation.

Mr Benioff sought to dispel views that his industry was the source of the city's rising income inequality and homelessness.

He announced a US$3 million donation to combat family homelessness in San Francisco, while Salesforce's philanthropic arm will give US$1.5 million to nonprofit group Hamilton Families, which Mr Benioff and his wife, Lynne, will match.

"Instead of seeing us as part of the problem in technology, tech wants to be part of the solution," Mr Benioff said. "Today is a milestone. It is not a finish line. We're going to raise US$200 million to get every homeless person off of these streets."

He encouraged other tech companies to contribute to the effort and asked people not to "scapegoat" the industry.

Salesforce is the anchor tenant of the building, leasing 36 floors, letting the cloud-software company consolidate some of its employees after years of using office space throughout San Francisco's Financial District.

The company has more than 29,000 global employees, about 7,500 of whom are based in the city.

Salesforce aims to increase its local workforce to 10,000 in the next two years, according to a spokeswoman. BLOOMBERG