Dreamforce is back as global, hybrid conference

Dreamforce was back in force this week, moving the annual Salesforce event to the outdoors and transforming the block of Howard Street outside the Moscone Center into a national park-themed venue for the first Dreamforce global, hybrid convention. Sessions are free to the public by signing into the company's new streaming service.

"Feeling super lucky to be here. Super excited," said Robert Cowles who came from Utah for his first Dreamforce convention. "The selection what we had was more limited than in the past, but still more than I could take in, so it was fun." 

The event was held on a dramatically smaller scale in person, compared to more than 170,000 attendees a few years ago.

"Part of the draw of Dreamforce was always just this kind of total overwhelm of everything in your face, and everywhere you look, and every hotel and every restaurant just kind of bubbling over with people," said Amber O'Neill, an attendee with IBM, a sponsor of the event.

For the 2021 Dreamforce, organizers say there were about 1,200 people at the Moscone Center site in person.

All of them were required to be fully vaccinated and have three negative COVID tests.

"I like the fact that they've been able to bring a lot of people together but also doing the right thing, making sure everyone's tested and had the covid shot before," said Ugo Nwuwa, a first-time attendee from Prospect Medical Holdings in southern California.

Live sessions on the main stage were being live-streamed around the world for the first time through the company's new streaming service, reaching participants in more than 20 countries.

"On the new streaming service Salesforce+, we've registered over 165,000 people," said Karin Flores, Salesforce Senior VP of Strategic Events.

The sessions are free of charge to everyone this year, enabling access to the lineup of top speakers.

"Business leaders, CEO's luminaries. We just had Jason Sudeikis the creator of Ted Lasso here inspiring the crowd. So still keeping up that energy and innovation but just doing it in a more scaled and intimate way," said Flores.

"Reconnecting with our family, our Ohana, it's just like such a boost to morale," said Daniel Peter, a Salesforce Trailblazer, during one session.

Some people like the access and flexibility of the hybrid model.

"We have so many customers from all over the world that never get a chance to come to Dreamforce, so it's great to democratize it," said O'Neill.

Others like the intimate setting, but also worry about the lack of crowds and the impact on San Francisco businesses.

"It saddens me how empty it is, and all the eateries and businesses have shuttered. So, I'm hoping it will go back to goes before pre-pandemic," said Kelvin Hall, a San Francisco native who works for Asana.

One thing that didn't change was the traditional Dreamforce opening night concert. The Foo Fighters performed live on the opening day.

Flores says their goal is to have a safe event and they hope to bring more people back in person next year.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at jana.katsuyama@fox.com and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.