Any local knows that Salesforce has made a lasting impression on the city, especially with its massive tower dominating the skyline—but what exactly does it do?
On Tuesday, the company’s annual mega-tech conference, Dreamforce, returned, bringing about 40,000 convention attendees — and a temporary “national forest” near the Moscone Center — to San Francisco.
But with the company fast approaching household name status, The Standard wanted to find out if anyone actually knows what the tech giant is doing. So we asked Dreamforce participants and passers-by.
“It must have something to do with finances, right?” said a first-time security officer at the event, Jose Gonzales. “I mean, it has ‘sale’ in its name, so it must have something to do with finances…”
San Franciscans who spoke to The Standard had heard that the company is the city’s largest private employer, but found it difficult to pinpoint exactly what Salesforce does.
“Do I know exactly what they’re doing? No,” said SFPD officer Jahn Kim, laughing. “I think it might have to do with some sort of corporate recruitment?”
Industry insiders, on the other hand, spoke of the company’s all-encompassing technology and business world, which has grown massively in the 20 years since the congress was founded.
A common set of buzzwords such as “CRM,” “SaaS,” or “customer-centric” came up over and over again as people attempted to answer the question, with the order of the sentences changing depending on who asked the question.
“They’re kind of on top of everything, but everyone knows they started out as a CRM (customer relationship management) tool,” says product manager Yashar Moayedian. This is his second participation in Dreamforce after returning this year with his company Adyen. “It has taken on internal and external systems for a number of large companies.”
The standard urged him to explain it in plain English.
“It basically helps you shop online,” Moayedian said with an amused look. “It is [an all-in-one system] where you can place orders, pay your bills and see how your business is performing in terms of sales and marketing.”
As for what Salesforce actually does, Moayedian isn’t too far off. According to its website, it is a cloud-based software company headquartered in San Francisco. It offers customer relationship management software and applications on its Salesforce.com web platform. Businesses can access and build on the platform by purchasing subscriptions and licenses.
The view from outside the state
While in-person attendance at this year’s convention has dropped by over 100,000 people, Dreamforce is still the largest conference the city’s struggling downtown core and hospitality industry has seen since before the pandemic.
Latané Conant is Chief Marketing Officer of 6sense, an artificial intelligence distribution company. Conant said she travels frequently to San Francisco from her home in Chicago and that this is her sixth Dreamforce, a conference she called “the most important event of the year.”
What felt like a nod to the old days when Dreamforce attendees flooded downtown and snatched up all the good tables, 6sense returned this year and rented an entire Mexican restaurant nearby just to house its clients and partners who came and went the convention itself.
“San Francisco used to be so vibrant and crowded, even without Dreamforce,” Conant said. “Then it became almost deserted. It was so sad. This time I was excited when I flew in and actually saw a line at the taxi rank and people waiting for a table in restaurants.”
Yoana Velikova traveled all the way from Ruse, Bulgaria to San Francisco – a journey that took her almost a full day. The sysadmin was excited to attend her first-ever Dreamforce, but admitted she had some concerns about the city based on what she’d heard.
“It’s an incredible place, but definitely not a Hollywood scene,” Velikova said. “The homelessness on the streets is heartbreaking and something you wouldn’t see in my country.”
She added that when she arrived late on Monday night, she found her hotel wasn’t as nice as the pictures online suggested and she went in search of another at the last minute.
“Hotels were charging $900 for the same room they advertised for $200 the night before,” Velikova said. “You know that thousands of people are coming to the city to boost tourism. You don’t have to raise the prices for it. We will spend enough money here.”