Iconic Dreamforce Moments: Stories from the Ultimate Insider
Custom cloud shoes. Monastics. Golden Hoodies. ‘Hoolicon’.
Karin Flores has a whole lot of Dreamforce stories. As an 11-year veteran of Salesforce, she’s attended more than most. And as SVP of Strategic Events, she gets the all-access, behind-the-scenes view that’s harder to come by.
Of course, for the last two years, ‘behind the scenes’ has meant something completely different — there are no backstage passes when COVID-19 makes an event digital-only.
“It’s been quite a wild ride,” Flores said. “We’re coming up on our second Dreamforce that we’re producing in a global pandemic, and it has truly been a lesson in resilience and innovation.”
Dreamforce this year will employ a ‘hybrid’ model, with hundreds of Trailblazers [those people using Salesforce to innovate within their company] attending in person, and online participation available for free to the global trailblazer community on the new streaming platform Salesforce+. As Flores puts it, “there have been a lot of changes since 2019, when we used to welcome over 100,000 of our customers, prospects, employees, and community into San Francisco. We’re now bringing Dreamforce to everybody, where they are, on the channel that’s right for them.”
In the run-up to Dreamforce 2021, we showed Flores a mix of iconic photos from events past (and future!) for her reaction, and to get the inside story straight from the source.
Dreamforce National Park
“This is an example of the ‘Dreamforce National Park’. At previous Dreamforces with in-person attendance, we’ve taken over a whole city block.”
“We’ve had plenty of different iterations over the years, but as Trailhead became key to our brand, this National Park-inspired theme really started to come to life. There’s a reason for that. Dreamforce is what we call a family reunion, bringing together our customers, our employees and the community. We always liken that to a family vacation to a national park.”
“Dreamforce is what we call a family reunion, bringing together our customers, our employees and the community. We always liken that to a family vacation to a national park.”Karin Flores, SVP Strategic Events, Salesforce
“There are two big entrances to the ‘Dreamforce Park’ – this one is on Howard and 4th Street – and they really are iconic moments for Dreamforce. For 2021, they’re back! We’re hybrid this year and we’re bringing together an intimate audience very safely, but you will still see an updated version of these iconic entrances and our new take on the National Park — because this year, of all years, we could not be more excited to welcome our community back!”
The Golden Hoodie
“This is, of course, our co-founder Parker Harris, with three ‘Golden Hoodie’ winners [exceptional Trailblazers celebrated at our events] back in 2017. I was here for this photo, and I love that the winners are all women!
“Parker has always been a true champion of our community, and for me that’s what Dreamforce is all about. At the essence of everything we do are our Trailblazers. The event is all about our customers and their success. We’re here to bring inspiration, but the event is there to celebrate the Trailblazers that are innovators within their own company, that are agents of change.”
Celebrities and other ‘Luminaries’
“This is a photo of the team from HBO’s Silicon Valley when they attended Dreamforce. They’ve actually attended a couple of times — once as speakers.
“We’ve brought in some fantastic speakers over the years — experts from UCSF, presidents, celebrities, activists on sustainability and equality. Dreamforce is always about winning product innovation, but Marc [Benioff, Salesforce CEO]’s vision was always that we should also try to inspire our community, our customers, and prospects in every aspect of their life. I think we were well ahead of the game in terms of that. The ‘luminaries’ track at the event is one of my favorite things about Dreamforce, and I think it’s what makes us so special. It’s very uniquely Salesforce.
“Dreamforce is always about winning product innovation, but Marc’s vision was always that we should also try to inspire our community, our customers, and prospects in every aspect of their life.”KARIN FLORES, SVP STRATEGIC EVENTS, SALESFORCE
“Let me give you a little inside baseball story about this particular photo. The other time the team from “Silicon Valley” came to Dreamforce was to do some reconnaissance work for the show itself. In the show, there’s this big tech conference ‘Hoolicon’, and it definitely resembles Dreamforce. They even use some footage from Dreamforces past in their commercial! Of course, they have some fun with it, but they spent some time with us and used that experience as the baseline for Hoolicon.”
Marc’s customized keynote shoes
“This photo is from 2019, and we’re looking at a pair of shoes that the CEO of Gucci, Marco Bizzarri, brought for Marc.
“A few years before this, Marc really started upping his game on his ‘Dreamforce shoes’. They were usually customized in some way, very blingy, and they often had clouds on them.”
The Plum Village Monastics
“These are some of the Plum Village Monastics, who’ve been joining us at Dreamforce for years now.”
“We started off by just inviting the monastics to join us at the event, and they would organize ‘mindful walks’ for attendees, and do some one-to-one meditation sessions.”
“The first year we did it, people absolutely loved it, and we started having these conversations about how important wellness is in the places where you work, and on a day-to-day basis. Not only in your personal life, but in your day-to-day work life.”
“Wellness has become a steel thread that we pull through Dreamforce now. It’s fully integrated into our overall programming.”Karin Flores, SVP Strategic Events, Salesforce
“Wellness has become a steel thread that we pull through Dreamforce now. It’s fully integrated into our overall programming. Back in 2019 we actually built a replica of Plum Village at Moscone Center, and ran wellness programming and meditation courses all week long. This is one of my favorite pictures — this is Salesforce, this is Dreamforce, and this is why we’re different.”
An all-digital Dreamforce in 2020
“When the pandemic hit and we moved digital, we knew that our core was still going to be storytelling — our customers telling their stories. We want to provide a platform for them to share their success.”
“But we also knew that you can only watch Zooms for so long! So we started to think about ways to make Dreamforce interesting and fun in this new environment.”
“When I look back from last summer to where we are now in terms of our visual storytelling, we’ve really grown in leaps and bounds. We’ve incorporated our family of mascots — like Einstein here! — into the storytelling.”
“It’s a new look and feel for us, and a new medium. We knew that sitting in an auditorium to watch a session for 60 minutes is just not the way we work anymore, but that we could do these really impactful bite-size segments to share our customer stories. This, to me, is really all about innovation and pushing boundaries.”
Dreamforce 2021: Hosted on Salesforce+
“Salesforce+ is our new streaming service. I like to call Dreamforce the ‘Hamilton moment’ for the platform — we’re going to have more than 100 hours of live and on-demand programming available.”
“I think of Salesforce+ as ‘Netflix for business’. There will be a ton of new original programming, and you’ll also be able to see our live events there. It’s a new subscription model too, so once you’re in, you’re in. You don’t have to re-register for events every time we have them — and we do a lot of events, as people know!”
“Our global community — tens of millions of Trailblazers — will have a front row seat to the magic of the biggest Dreamforce yet on Salesforce+.”
“Our global community — tens of millions of Trailblazers — will have a front row seat to the magic of the biggest Dreamforce yet on Salesforce+.”Karin Flores, SVP Strategic Events, Salesforce
“It’s one of the two things I’m most excited about for Dreamforce this year. I think that what we’re doing is so different and so innovative. We’re really heads down getting this ready right now, so we can launch it in time for Dreamforce!”
“The other thing I’m excited about? Getting a small group of Trailblazers back together in San Francisco. You can’t put a price on human connection, and being together in person. Our approach is safety first, second, and third. We have very robust testing protocols that we have put into place. Everyone who’s coming on site will do three sequential tests for COVID and need proof of vaccination. That gives everybody a sense of security, and a sense that we can come together safely. I’m really excited about that.”
Dreamforce 2021 will take place between September 21 and 23, 2021. The entire event will stream on Salesforce+. You can sign up for free here.