A look back at the highlights from Dreamforce 2016

With Dreamforce 2017 just weeks away, the countdown for the world’s largest tech conference is nearing fever-pitch. To remind ourselves what we have to look forward to, we take a look back at the best bits from Dreamforce 2016.

1. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s kick-off

Each year, one of the most-anticipated events on the Dreamforce program is when Marc Benioff kicks off official proceedings with his opening keynote address. Last year, Benioff welcomed everyone back to what he called the annual “family reunion”, before being joined onstage by Parker Harris for a conversation about the future of AI-powered CRM. He was later joined by Salesforce customers (RED), Schneider Electric and FitBit who shared their Salesforce success stories.

2. Einstein AI took centre stage

Back in September 2016 we launched Einstein – a layer built into the Salesforce platform that makes artificial intelligence accessible to everyone. It was only natural then, that Einstein took a big chunk of the spotlight at Dreamforce.

3. Equality was championed

The spirit of equality was embedded throughout the week last year, but shone brightest during The Equality Summit Keynote. After an introduction by Salesforce’s Chief Equality Officer Tony Prophet, the panel was underway. Tennis legend Billie Jean King, United States Congress representative John Lewis and Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard J. Tyson engaged in an emotional conversation.

4. Melinda Gates and Robin Roberts had a fireside chat

Continuing the theme of equality, Robin Roberts, co-anchor at ABC’s Good Morning America, and Melinda Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discussed the state of women and girls around the world. Their fireside chat included the topics of diversity in tech and the potential for AI to improve equality around the world.

5. U2 rocked the Dreamfest stage

In 2016, it was one of the biggest bands on the planet that graced the Dreamfest stage. U2 rocked out a medley of their greatest hits, all in the name of raising awareness about (RED)’s mission to eliminate new cases of HIV by 2020 and raising $10 million for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

6. Tony Robbins injected energy

Energy is not something businessman, author and philanthropist Tony Robbins lacks, and he certainly brought that spark to the Dreamforce keynote stage in 2016. Within minutes Robbins had the crowd on their feet, before providing tips for achieving your personal edge.

7. Lots of learning in the Campground

Amid the sea of 400+ booths in the Cloud Expo, some of our top customers were featured in the Dreamforce Campground, showing off how their businesses are innovating around the world (with Salesforce’s help!).

8. Dreampitch found a start-up star

For the first time, early-stage start-ups built on Salesforce App Cloud were given a chance to pitch their start-up on the Dreamforce stage, in front of a panel of celebrated investors and entrepreneurs. Mark Cuban, Chris Sacca, will.i.am and Sharzad Rafati heard pitches from three top Salesforce-built start-ups.

Following a spirited conversation among the “sharks,” Claire – a chat-based online product testing start-up – was deemed the winner, nabbing a $150k investment from Salesforce Ventures and a spot in the new Salesforce start-up incubator.

9. Trails were blazed with Trailhead 

Trailhead – the fun way to learn Salesforce – took over Moscone West with its fun camping theme. Attendees could complete challenges and earn prizes (like the coveted Trailblazer hoodie and Astro dolls), and along the way connect with other Salesforce employees and MVPs.

10. $3 million was raised to fight against AIDS

Giving back is always at the heart of what Salesforce does, and this always comes to the fore at Dreamforce. Before last year’s conference, we set an ambitious goal to raise $1 million for (RED) and throughout the week attendees donated to help create an AIDS-free generation. With the help of Marc Benioff and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we raised a total of $3 million.

Get excited for Dreamforce 2017

Now that we’ve reminisced, get excited because we’re gearing up for the most epic Dreamforce ever. In 2017, we have a rockstar line-up of some of the brightest, most innovative people on the planet, all ready to share their wisdom. To name-drop, Michelle Obama, Ashton Kutcher, Jenna Bush Hager and our very own Marc Benioff will all be taking to the mic. And, the star power doesn’t end there, with Alicia Keys and Lenny Kravitz headlining this year’s Dreamfest concert.

Over the four days, 6–9 November, there will be endless learning opportunities, with over 2,700 sessions and lots of hands-on training. There’ll also be every opportunity to network, take selfies with Astro and Einstein, and have one heck of a time!

If you haven’t got a ticket to San Francisco, you can still learn and be inspired by the sessions at Dreamforce 2017. Just head to Salesforce LIVE for the best online coverage.