Google shifts Cloud Next sales shindig from SF to Las Vegas

What could possibly have attracted this tech titan to an all-day party zone?

Google is moving its annual Cloud Next conference, which just finished wrapping up in San Francisco, to the quiet and modest streets of Las Vegas.

"We can confirm Google Cloud Next '24 will be held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas on April 9 to 11. We will be sharing additional information in the coming months," reps for the web giant told The Register today without answering questions regarding the reason for the move. 

San Francisco's downtown Moscone Center played home to Google Cloud Next, in which the internet titan shows off its cloud wares to IT buyers, in the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2023 marked its, perhaps one-time, return to the venue since 2019. Google's flagship developer-focused IO conference is also no longer held in San Francisco, and is back across the road from Google HQ in Mountain View, California.

Google's confirmation that it's taking its event business elsewhere echoes decisions already made by Meta and IBM-owned Red Hat, both of which decided in July to relocate conventions from SF. In Red Hat's case, its 2024 and 2025 events scheduled for the Moscone Center have been moved to Denver and Orlando, respectively. Meta, meanwhile, canceled its Business Group Summit scheduled for San Fran[cisco - ed.] next year entirely.

The reasons are unclear, especially with Meta and Red Hat not immediately responding to our questions about their decisions. Google, likewise, didn't explain itself to us - or to San Francisco officials, we've been told. 

Then there's Salesforce, which has an out-sized presence in San Francisco: a 61-story skyscraper named after the software-as-a-service giant, its primary tenant, dominates the US West Coast city's skyline. The biz also happily sublets space in its other SF buildings. Meanwhile CEO Marc Benioff has been particularly vocal about the state of affairs in the city: it's a mess, in his view.

Remote work means San Francisco's downtown won't ever be the bustling mecca that it once was, Benioff predicted over the summer. To get things back to a workable state, "we need to rebalance downtown," Benioff urged San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

Benioff's griping appear to have gone unheeded, at least to the degree he wanted them to be, as the billionaire recently said he was considering taking Salesforce's annual Dreamforce elsewhere because of claimed deteriorating conditions inside the city. 

It is true that SF's downtown is quieter than it was pre-pandemic as businesses and workers have either left the city or gone remote since 2020; and yes, as surely the whole planet knows by now, there are a few areas that aren't particularly wonderful and that property crime is too high. But media frothing of SF being a total hell hole fails to align with reality for those living in the city in areas away from the likes of Tenderloin and South of Market.

"If this Dreamforce is impacted by the current situation with homelessness and drug use it may be the last Dreamforce" in San Francisco, Benioff told the San Francisco Chronicle. Oracle, which also took its OpenWorld event out of the area, ditched San Francisco even before the pandemic, and cited similar reasons to Benioff for taking its shindig to Las Vegas: high prices and "poor street conditions." 

When asked why multiple tech companies have abandoned San Francisco as a convention venue, Mayor Breed's office told us that it was working with Google leadership to bring Cloud Next back to San Francisco in future years and "ensure the resources are in place to make the event a safe, welcoming, and vibrant experience," a spokesperson for the mayor told us. 

Interestingly enough, the mayor's office told us that it kicked off a Moscone Convention Recovery Fund in 2021 to support events returning to San Francisco by subsidizing space rentals and attracting conventions to the region. With some conferences fleeing, it seems the efforts haven't quite been enough. ®

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