The annual Dreamforce convention is still set to begin less than two weeks from now, but Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is threatening to move the whole shebang elsewhere if he thinks drug use and homelessness disrupt this year’s event.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has always effectively cast himself as the good, charitable guy among Silicon Valley and tech CEOs. He shelled out his own money to support the Prop. C homelessness tax that raised taxes on his own company, and has given generously to find solutions to the decades-old problem of homelessness.
But he threw quite a broadside at SF’s homelessness issue — while discussing a $1 million donation to Salvation Army homeless programs, no less — as the Chronicle reports Benioff threatened to pull his company’s annual Dreamforce conference out of SF over homelessness and drug use.
“If this Dreamforce is impacted by the current situation with homelessness and drug use it may be the last Dreamforce” in SF, Benioff told the Chronicle.
So many Salesforce people use drugs I used to work in the Salesforce complex and lemme tell you the baggies were OUT during dreamforce so someone should probably tell him it'll follow him wherever he takes his cult event https://t.co/oo4vRVw8fp— PaymeLeeCurtis (@EvilDreadsII) August 30, 2023
But come on… you think nobody’s doing any blow at Dreamforce parties?
We kid. Though the Chronicle tried could and not confirm whether Salesforce was in any discussions to book the Moscone Center for a 2024 Dreamforce.
Though as that paper points out, there have not really ever been any major crime impacts reported at past Dreamforce events; the worst incident that conference has seen was protesters interrupting Benioff’s keynote address in 2019 over a Salesforce contract with Customs and Border Protection. But considering the recent uptick in car break-ins, and the likelihood of rental cars full of nice things being dotted around downtown and SoMa, and the fact that attendees have to walk to the conference from nearby hotels, sure, it's a legitimate concern.
Benioff also tied the matter to the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting that will bring many global bigwigs to town for a high-visibility event.
“We’ll bring a significant number of people to the city — 40,000 people — and it will generate $57 million in the downtown economy,” Benioff said, referring to Dreamforce. “So it’s in all of our interests for it to go well, and for APEC to go well. This should be the focus of the city.”
Note the language “This should be the focus of the city.” This seems a more-than-gentle nudge to City Hall to carpet-bomb as many police, sheriffs, and Urban Alchemy “ambassadors” around downtown as possible during his company’s event — and no doubt, discussions have been going on behind closed doors.
Dreamforce 2023 runs September 12-14, and this year is billing itself as “The largest AI event in the world,” I guess just because that’s what all the VC hype is about these days. The big speakers are OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, and for whatever reason, actors Matthew McConaughey and Rainn Wilson.
Image via Salesforce