San Francisco

Tony Robbins, Melinda Gates, Mark Cuban, U2 Headline Dreamforce in SF

Salesforce’s annual customer conference kicks off Tuesday in San Francisco, and if you thought TechCrunch Disrupt and Oracle OpenWorld were big, Dreamforce is, well, just massive. In fact, it can easily be called the mother of all tech conferences in the Bay Area.

Around 170,000 attendees are expected at the four-day event, which will host big names such as self-help guru Tony Robbins, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Mark Cuban,, Melinda Gates, and U2, who will perform at the “Cloud Palace” Wednesday to raise money for pediatric care and research at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals.

Locals can expect traffic in downtown San Francisco, especially around Moscone Center, the convention venue, to be heavier than usual. Bus lines will be impacted, and some roads around the Cow Palace will be shut down for the concert.

Last year, Salesforce rented an entire cruise ship to entertain guests. This year, there’s a “Shark-Tank-like” “Dreampitch” session – where startups can pitch to billionaires Cuban and Chris Sacca for up to $150,000 in investments. There will also be monks at hand to help with daily mindfulness sessions.

Robbins, who was in the news this year after 30 people suffered minor burns when they walked on hot coals at one of his sessions, will be delivering Tuesday’s keynote, titled “The Power to Break Through: Your Ultimate Edge.”

Like last year, gender equality is expected to be a big theme at Dreamforce once again. Sports icon Billie Jean King, and Academy Award winner Patricia Arquette, who talked about the wage gap last year, will be speaking on the topic. "Just like we have been the company that has pioneered cloud networking in the technology industry, we want to pioneer this to make it a serious part of who we are," Benioff, himself a big supporter of wage equality, told NBC Bay Area last year.

One of the biggest draws of the convention is U2. Tickets, which start at $1,000, are currently available for the 7 p.m. show on Oct. 5 at the Cow Palace in Daly City.

In keeping with the theme of giving, Salesforce is encouraging its customers to help raise a million dollars for the global (RED) Foundation, which was founded by U2’s lead singer Bono to fight AIDS.

Salesforce chief philanthropy officer Suzanne DiBianca told VentureBeat this year’s campaign is “a perfect example of how Salesforce’s 1/1/1 model plays out. When talking about giving [a piece of] your product, time, and resources, (RED) is an example of what it means.” The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged a 2-to-1 dollar match of all donations made to (RED) during the convention.

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