On Sept. 18, more than 60,000 people flooded downtown San Francisco for OpenWorld, Oracle software solution’s annual tech conference. For four days, the city was buzzing with dine-arounds, keynotes, parties and events at venues large and small.

Just as OpenWorld came to a close, San Francisco began preparing for another mega-event, Dreamforce, the citywide convention annually put on by home-town company Salesforce.

“It’s very exciting to see major groups like Oracle and Salesforce return to San Francisco year after year,” says Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel. “Clearly, they appreciate the flexibility and creativity that the city offers, both in terms of meeting and event venues and the overall atmosphere of innovation.”


Oracle OpenWorld was staged at Moscone Center, where Larry Ellison, Oracle’s executive chairman of the board and chief technology officer, opened with a keynote in Moscone North. Later that night at the kickoff party, a concert featuring the American Authors took place next to the convention center in an outdoor space created specifically for the citywide, dubbed Oracle Cloud Plaza.

Moscone West and Moscone South were used as exhibition halls. An applications user lab was created at nearby San Francisco Marriott Marquis, where attendees worked with an Oracle designer and other customers to brainstorm and create product prototypes.

In addition to Marriott Marquis, hotels hosting attendees near the conventions included W San Francisco, The St. Regis San Francisco, Park Central Hotel San Francisco, Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco and Courtyard San Francisco Downtown.

The conference’s website urged attendees to help Oracle reach its Green Meetings sustainability goals by using Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to commute to and from the bay’s three airports and to hotels and Moscone.

Keynotes included NBA Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Motorola Solutions CIO Greg Meyers, and a slew of Oracle executives. The evening before the conference wrapped, Sting and Gwen Stefani performed at AT&T Park as part of the annual customer appreciation bash.


Less than two weeks after OpenWorld attendees from more than 145 countries left San Francisco, it hosted another citywide, also at Moscone Center and surrounding venues.

On Oct. 4–7, sales and marketing professionals, developers and other IT workers gathered for Salesforce’s annual convention, which brings big-name keynotes and entertainment year after year. This year was no different, with motivational speaker Tony Robbins, actress Patricia Arquette, sports hero and LGBT activist Billie Jean King, self-made billionaire Mark Cuban,TV anchor Robin Roberts, philanthropist Melinda Gates and many, many more.

“At Dreamforce 2016, we saw 171,000 registered attendees and more than 15 million online viewers,” says Catherine Simmons, vice president of strategic events for Salesforce. “We also hosted more than 150 viewing parties in 51 countries.”

Sections of Second and Third streets were closed to traffic and covered with turf to create DreamPark, a networking and event space that hosted bands and served as a networking spot for attendees.

On the second night of the event, U2 performed at historic Cow Palace, which was rebranded as Cloud Palace for the event. The performance helped raise $10 million for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals.

Dreamforce breakout sessions took place at surrounding venues, including Hilton San Francisco Union Square, InterContinental San Francisco and the Marriott Marquis.

Planner Perspective

Smart Meetings got a behind-the-scenes glance at what goes into putting on Dreamforce, courtesy of Catherine Simmons, vice president of strategic events for Salesforce.

Q: What are the biggest factors that draw such a large attendance?

A: Dreamforce is our annual gathering of the entire Salesforce family—our customers, partners, employees and more. Attendees know that Dreamforce is where industry leaders look for new innovations that will be driving conversation through the year ahead, which brings people back year after year.

Q: Why is San Francisco the home of Dreamforce each year? Will that ever change?

A: We will hold Dreamforce in San Francisco for years to come and continue to bring our community together for four high-energy days of innovation, empowerment, giving back and fun. We always want to give back to the city that Salesforce calls home, and this year at Dreamforce, Salesforce invited more than 400 San Francisco and Oakland students for coding classes, maker workshops and campus tours.

Q: What are some of the most difficult logistics that go into planning a citywide of this size?

A: Dreamforce is highly complex event. We partner with SF Travel, Moscone, several city agencies and the local hotel community to ensure we have the best mix of venues and facilities for the event and for San Francisco.

Q: What was new at Dreamforce 2016?

A: This year, we invited companies from within our ecosystem to pitch entrepreneurs and stars of ABC’s Shark Tank, Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca, as well as will.i.am, at the first-ever Dreampitch competition. Any startup built on the Salesforce App Cloud was eligible to win a $150,000 investment from Salesforce Ventures. We also announced the launch of the inaugural Fortune CEO series. This program brought together the world’s top CEOs to speak with one another about topics such as innovation, leadership, the economy and business growth.

For the first time ever, we brought in a global partner, RED, to join us and help raise awareness in the fight against AIDS in Africa.