Salesforce had a Dream! How a SaaS User Conference Turned Into The World’s Largest Software Conclave

Dreamforce 2017 History

Fifteen years ago, Salesforce started its annual customer conference Dreamforce, which is now hailed as “The Learning Event of the Year”

It’s time for downtown SF to turn into the Coachella of techie nerds this week. Last year’s Dreamforce saw as many as over 171,000 people, from 83 countries attend the conference over the week. With a smorgasbord of 2,700+ sessions (Michelle Obama, Ashton Kutcher to Headline Speaker Lineup At Dreamforce 2017) taking place at this year’s edition of Salesforce’s annual customer conference, the number of attendees will only go up.

Also read: Dreamforce 2017 Exclusive: 5 Exciting Things Awaiting You at Downtown SF This Year

Kate Toporski
Kate Toporski

Dreamforce did not have these staggering numbers when it began 15 years ago. In 2003, Salesforce started, what they called, “user and developer conference” at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco November 9-11, 2003. There were just over a 1000 people who attended the annual tech gala back then. It wasn’t even a gala that year, with absolutely no cultural events, and no Dreamfest. Keynote speakers during the first conference included Adam Bosworth, Halsey Minor, Chris Thomas, David Vaskevitch, Ernie Cormier, Jim Balsillie, and Salesforce chairman and CEO Marc Benioff.

In its press release, Salesforce promised that during Dreamforce 2003, customers, developers, and partners in attendance “will get an exclusive preview of this winter’s latest release and benefit from the hands-on training given by experts.”

In 2003, Benioff called Dreamforce conference a gathering of “premiere movers and shakers in the software-as-service and on-demand CRM industry to celebrate an amazing year of success”. He had added that the goal of was “to foster open communication between their customers, developers, and partners, to spark the imagination, creativity, innovation, and collaboration of the community and the software-as-service community as a whole.”

It didn’t take Dreamforce very long to avalanche into the giant must-attend conference of the year. In 2012, with a decade behind them, Salesforce released this infographic to show how far their dream event had come.

History of DreamforceImage Courtesy: Salesforce

In just five years, the number of attendees had grown ten-fold while the keynote speakers went from being just high-ranking software executives to A-list celebrities like George Lucas, Neil Young, Sheryl Sandberg, the then-President Bill Clinton and even Stevie Wonder.

In its 15 years of existence, Dreamforce hasn’t been just another annual tech fest, it is a blowout with performances by music giants like Train, INXS, Foo Fighters, Black Crows, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, and Bruno Mars.

Starting November 6, 2017, Dreamforce ’17 is going to be a grand spectacle.

Read Next: What To Expect From Dreamforce 2017

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