Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff says Dreamforce might depart San Francisco

For decades, hordes of business titans have flocked to San Francisco every year for Salesforce's main conference – but that could be changing.

Marc Benioff, CEO of the customer management platform provider, warned that this year's Dreamforce conference could be the last to be held in the Golden City.

Dreamforce has been a major draw for the region since its inception two decades ago – about 40,000 people are expected to come to the Moscone Center for the two-day event, which begins Sept. 12.

The event program is top-notch: speakers include OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Anthropic CEO Dario Amodei, Stanford computer science professor Fei-Fei Li, as well as celebrities like Matthew McConaughey, The Office's Rainn Wilson, and Oscar-winning director Spike Lee.

But San Francisco may no longer be up to the task of hosting a star-studded roster, Benioff warned.

According to Benioff, the event – this year complete with a performance by the Foo Fighters – was plagued by attendees complaining about homelessness and the city's dirty streets.

“If this Dreamforce is affected by the current situation with homelessness and drug use, it could be the last Dreamforce in the city,” Benioff told the San Francisco Chronicle in an interview published this week.

San Francisco has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent months: Homelessness is rampant, shoplifting is on the rise, and gun violence and homicides remain high compared to before the pandemic.

For their part, Benioff and Salesforce are trying to help.

The warning that Dreamforce could leave San Francisco came after it was revealed that Salesforce had donated $1 million to the Salvation Army, an organization focused on helping the homeless.

Benioff added that he was working hard to ensure guests had an enjoyable time at Dreamforce, noting that organizers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, scheduled to take place in San Francisco in September, were also doing exactly that will observe.

“As always, we are working hand in hand with the city,” Benioff said. “We will bring a significant number of people to the city – 40,000 people – bringing $57 million to the downtown economy. So it is in all of our interests that things go well and that APEC goes well. This should be the focus of the city.”

San Francisco State

The West Coast city's newfound notoriety could be one of the themes of the conference, where San Francisco Mayor London Breed will speak during Dreamforce.

She will certainly have a lot to discuss. Just last week, the Democrat criticized the city's “homeless coalition” after a court denied the city's right to clear homeless encampments.

According to a 2022 count, just over 7,750 people live on the streets of San Francisco. Of these, around 3,360 sleep outdoors, while around 4,400 sleep in emergency shelters.

In addition, around 6,000 women were homeless and subjected to “overwhelming” levels of violence last year.

According to reports in the San Francisco Chronicle, many women are forced to sell sex to survive, while others are attacked on the streets or in shelters.

Homelessness is exacerbated by drug problems, which in turn drive out employers and businesses.

In April of this year, Whole Foods announced it was closing its flagship store in downtown San Francisco, citing employee safety.

The decision came after the San Francisco Standard reported that hours had been changed because of shoplifting and that restroom rules had been put in place because staff had found syringes and pipes in the facilities.

The city was also the scene of a high-profile knife attack that caught the attention of some of the biggest names in tech.

Bob Lee, the creator of Cash App, was killed in April and died in hospital after suffering multiple stab wounds.

Although a technology consultant has since been charged in the attack, the incident sparked a broader discussion about crime in San Francisco.

Elon Musk, a frequent critic of the city that calls his platform X – formerly Twitter – home, wrote on the social media site at the time: “Violent crime in SF is terrible, and even when attackers are caught, they are often immediately released .” ”

I'm very sorry to hear that. Many people I know have been severely attacked.

Violent crime in SF is terrible and even when attackers are caught, they are often immediately released.

Is the city taking stricter measures to lock up repeat violent offenders @BrookeJenkinsSF?

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2023

Musk, who is also CEO of Tesla, has similarly claimed that many Twitter employees “feel unsafe coming to work,” calling downtown San Francisco a “disaster,” describing it as “an abandoned zombie -Apocalypse”.

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