Some 43,000 corporate types will converge on South of Market for SF’s biggest conference Dreamforce, which starts Tuesday, making a mess of traffic, but hopefully also a mess of money for the local hospitality biz.
Love it or hate it, the 800-pound gorilla of San Francisco tech conferences Dreamforce returns Tuesday through Thursday, but is already gumming up the works in SoMa. Badge pickup is now underway at the Moscone Center, and the happy hours and afterparties will start late this afternoon. Dreamforce is expecting some 43,000 in-person attendees this year, according to KGO, which is slightly larger than last year’s event, though nowhere near the usual 170,000 people this conference drew prior to the pandemic.
But KGO also estimates this thing is expected to pump $90 million into the local economy. So let’s roll out the red carpet for our visiting guests spewing AI propaganda and sporting custom Dreamforce fingernail manicures, as they’re bolstering our local restaurants, servers, bartenders, caterers, and designer drug dealers.
If you’re not going to Dreamforce, the main thing you will care about is how this affects traffic and Muni. While it’s best to simply avoid the area near Moscone Center, if you must go there, the only true street closure is Howard Street between Third and Fourth streets. But there will also be some lane closures on Folsom, Howard, Third and Fourth streets. While SFMTA insists “There will be no impact on Muni service,” you’d better believe buses will be moving more slowly downtown on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
The SF Business Times has a rundown of the celebrity star power at Dreamforce 2023. People will of course attend Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s Tuesday keynote out of a sense of obligation, and their big get is ChatGPT wunderkind and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. You also have many celebrities speaking, with Matthew McConaughey again coming to ramble about something, as well as, for whatever reason, actors Rainn Wilson and Viola Davis, director Spike Lee, and chimpanzee champion Dr. Jane Goodall.
Reliable sellouts will.i.am and Arianna Huffington will give nice speeches about whoever is currently paying them, and the Wednesday night headline concert features Foo Fighters at Chase Center (they previously played the event in 2008 and 2015). Mayor London Breed will also be speaking, assuring you in strong terms that you are definitely seeing any drugs or homelessness on SF streets.
Because Marc Benioff kinda semi-threatened to move the conference over those issues in late August. So you’re likely to see beefed-up presence of law enforcement and Urban Alchemy “ambassadors” in the Moscone Center and hotel areas, as SF tourism officials are keen to push back against negative news stories about the city.
"People are coming here saying, ‘I’m seeing these sensationalized headlines. They just didn’t meet the wonderful experience we had here,’” SF Travel Association chief policy and external affairs officer Cassandra Costello told KTVU. “In fact, in our last visitor sentiment survey 92% of those who visited San Francisco said that they want to come back to San Francisco."
And even if you’re not registered to attend Dreamforce, there are still plenty of Dreamforce parties you can crash for free, Monday through Thursday night. Some of those parties do of course require a Dreamforce registration. But many do not, you just have to give a name and email, and you’re good to waltz right in for your free cocktails and chicken satay skewers. So take advantage, because if Benioff makes good on his threat to move the conference, this could be your last chance to get free Dreamforce goodies.
Image via Salesforce