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Dreams feel real while we're in them, don't they Salesforce? 'Critical' virtual event Dreamforce faces the axe

'Obviously a critical brand' says CEO Benioff as he calls off online occasion

Salesforce's 170,000-attendee annual uber-conference that the world knows as Dreamforce looks set to be no more - not even in digital form - at least as far as the 2020 version is concerned.

The company's CEO, Marc Benioff, who received a personal bonus of $2.3m for the business' performance in April, has halted the yearly jamboree, usually held in its San Francisco hometown.

He told the Information business magazine that the event, which Salesforce said would become digital-only following the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, won't take place.

“Dreamforce is obviously a critical brand for Salesforce, but there’s no Dreamforce this year,” Benioff told the news site.

While the industry figures out if the move to online-only events will be permanent, few thought that virtual events would also be canned.

But perhaps the stammering start of the SAP Sapphire bash, and the eye-watering six-week indulge-a-thon that constituted ServiceNow’s online event Knowledge 2020 are causing the Salesforce supremo to have second thoughts.

Another reason for doubt could be the reception at Dreamforce in recent years. In 2018, the event saw protestors trundle a huge wooden cage down the street outside the crowded conference centre to mark their opposition to Salesforce signing a multi-million dollar contract with US Customs and Border Protection agency, which found fame by separating small kids from their asylum-seeking families at the American border.

Any further attempts to illuminate apparent hypocrisy that threatens Benioff’s carefully manicured brand image of a philanthropists and enlightened new age hippy, in a forum online or otherwise, might not be a risk worth taking.

Closer to the truth may be the money. In May, it announced Q1 revenue of $4.9bn, an increase of 30 per cent compared with last year. Still in the throes of the global pandemic and economic crisis, the company confidently predicted revenue would hit $20bn for the full financial year 2021, 17 per cent up from the previous year.

With another bonus set to line Benioff’s bulging pockets, why spend the money and take the risk of another Dreamforce extravaganza?

Salesforce has yet to respond to The Register's request for comment. ®

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