Dreamforce Conference converges on San Francisco

This week thousands of "dreamers" are converging on AT&T Park and the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
November 19, 2013 6:29:10 PM PST
Tuesday night, thousands of "dreamers" are converging on AT&T Park in San Francisco. Green Day and Blondie are playing there for a benefit for Benioff Children's Hospital at UCSF. The hospital's biggest benefactor, Mark Benioff of Salesforce.com, is hosting the annual Dreamforce Conference at the Moscone Center where Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer spoke in a Q&A on succeeding in a global marketplace.

Mayer said, "I think you should design for the expert user. A lot of people don't equate with simplicity, but I think that you should build products that are really fast to learn so in a matter of days to weeks you can be an expert."

Never mind the earnings figures and product launches that kick off most tech conferences, Dreamforce began with rock-n-roll by welcoming Huey Lewis & the News on stage.

And when Benioff took the stage, his first order of business wasn't selling anything. He told the crowd, "There's nothing better feeling than giving. I think everyone knows that. I like to say that the best drug I ever took was philanthropy."

Benioff donated $100 million for the UCSF children's hospital named after him that'll open in 2015. And Salesforce is giving away services to help the recovery in Haiti -- a country whose prime minister came to the keynote.

"Because of people such as yourself, Haiti will be a better place," said Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.

He was the first surprise guest of many. Actor Sean Penn showed up and so did HP CEO Meg Whitman.

"Is this not the most exciting time to be in technology?" said Whitman to the crowd.

There were special effects. And, oh yeah, there was also a product launch.

Salesforce is taking its business mobile. They make tools for companies to keep track of customers and now, they've re-worked those tools for phones and wearable devices.

They're playing to an audience of 130,000 across four buildings and under a giant inflatable cloud in the street. It's called the largest inflatable cloud structure in North America.

Dreamforce is actually one of two conferences that block off the busy street outside the center and cover it with Astroturf. The other one is Oracle OpenWorld, which for years was San Francisco's biggest conference. Now Dreamforce has grown, by some estimates, to be twice as big as the Oracle conference and some people say that's because they think it's more fun.

"I think that's what people love about coming to this conference is that it doesn't feel like a tech conference. It feels like a movement," said Scott Holden, the Salesforce platform marketing vice president.

A movement is going from the desktop to the cloud, to the beat of 27 DJ's and live bands -- some playing for charity. They say Tuesday's event featuring Green Day and Blondie, raised over $6.5 million. Salesforce can afford it since they just reported a billion dollars in quarterly earnings. Companies want what they're selling.

"Companies used to say, 'I don't want to be the first in the cloud,' and now they don't want to be last," said Narinder Singh, the Appirio president and co-founder.


Load Comments