It’s that time of year again. If you live, work or drive through downtown San Francisco, then you know what I’m talking about: Dreamforce Traffic Jam.
You probably also know that the megaconference is put on by Salesforce. But do you know what Salesforce does?
If you don’t, you’re not alone.
“I think they train people and let them know how to be happy when they’re doing sales,” said Amanda Grace, who was handing out leaflets on Market Street.
Good try but wrong. Now, you might expect Don Harbison to know. He co-owns two restaurants in Yerba Buena Gardens, which butts up against Moscone Center, where Dreamforce is taking place this week.
“We’re benefiting directly,” Harbison said. “We have private events locked down from start to finish” of the conference.
But does he know what Salesforce does?
“No,” Harbison said. But then he guesses that “they connect people in some cloud.”
Anurag Rana knows the answer. He’s an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.
“Salesforce is the largest provider of cloud applications in the world,” Rana said.
Simply put, Salesforce provides business software that works online. Rana says that to understand the San Francisco-based company, you have to look to the past
“So let’s go back 20 years or so,” Rana said.
Or more specifically, to 1999, when Salesforce was founded. Back then, when companies bought software to help run their businesses, they would have to physically install the software onto their computers. It was complicated and expensive to maintain. Salesforce moved that process to the cloud.
“They basically gave you a username and login,” Rana said. And it was that simple.
Rana said it completely changed the way software is sold. Next year, Salesforce is expected to ring up about $10 billion in sales.
Back at Moscone Center, Dreamforce is bringing money to San Francisco, too. According to SF Travel, the conference brings in about $236 million. That’s why, despite the inconvenience, the city welcomes it.