Want to make a Salesforce.com employee laugh? Ask him to “hook you up with a pass” for Dreamforce, their upcoming partner and customer conference. If you really want to get some spit in your face, call it a “trade show.” Then you can make yourself cry by going online to book the closest available Bay Area hotel room for the week of November 18. For just under $400 per night, you can set up your team at the Notell-motel, which adjoins the Stop-n-get-Jacked gas station just east of the 80 Interstate in Vacaville.

What’s the rumpus, you ask? Even in a company growing as fast as Salesforce.com, Dreamforce is such a big deal that it has taken on a life of its own. There are over 120,000 registered attendees this year. The event gala has Green Day playing in SBC Park. The event itself has over 1000 sessions and the sponsor exhibits are spilling out of all 4 Moscone halls. Dreamforce has far surpassed the CRM market to become THE DESTINATION for technology companies of all types to meet customer and partner decision makers.

It has been 10 years since Marc Benioff hatched the first Dreamforce in 2003 with a modest 1130 attendees and 50 presenters. I was selling software for an ISV Partner that was sponsoring the event, so of course I hustled up a badge and went to check out the lone marketing oasis amongst the dust bowl-like technology industry backdrop that was 2001-2004. Although I’m sure that I had every intention of attending such riveting sessions as “Salesforce.com and Research In Motion Deliver Wireless Access To Sales and Customer Data via BlackBerry,” I spent most of the day chatting up other tech execs at the Westin St. Francis bar. But there was no escaping the buzz – these guys were looking to dominate more than the online CRM market.

Fast forward to 2007, where the show filled out Moscone North and South. Platinum level sponsors shelled out $150K. If you wanted to feel the marketing love your company had to be on the AppExchange. INXS debuted their new reality show front guy (J.D. Fortune maybe?) and Benioff chummed it up onstage with George Lucas. I spoke for Jigsaw at one of the partner sessions and got my first taste of all the behind-the-scenes pressure – and then hit all of the top shelf parties in Soma that week. Dreamforce had ascended to the top of the technology trade show heap, and you couldn’t help but get waved over with excitement.

After we sold Jigsaw to Salesforce in May 2010, I snuck further behind the curtain. Like Disney World, the whole experience is crafted to the smallest detail (heaven forbid some kid sees Donald Duck with his costume head off, smoking a cigarette). Jigsaw had been planning to do a user conference of our own that summer, but that event was summarily squelched. Jigsaw filled out a nice booth inside the owner tent and got a few logo pops on the big screen, but we still had limited passes – none to give out – and I didn’t even come close to hanging with Will.i.am.  The famous personal story from that year: I got punched by a girl at one of the after parties! 

For Dreamforce ’13, I am back in the “cheap” seats with ScanBizCards – meaning we spent $20K for a kiosk in one of the exhibition halls. I have been feverishly networking within Salesforce to get some attention on ScanBizCards Enterprise for Salesforce, the AppExchange managed package that we are announcing at the show. If my efforts have paid off, SBC may show up in a few other places around the conference. To find out how SBC Enterprise can help you – or if you just want to hear more Dreamforce stories – look for me in booth #n1016. And of course at all the A-list parties (I’ve got a reputation to uphold…).

Reasons to try and find ScanBizCards in the North Hall (Booth#n1016):

  • Try ScanBizCards Pro for free
  • We’re giving out a cool T-Shirt (you know you love a t-shirt)
  • We’ve got 3 of those space age Samsung Smart Watches to give away
  • I’ve been known to get punchy and do crazy stuff in booths
  • I’ll be tracking you anyway, you might as well just get it over with