Photo: Salesforce

As giant tech firms fight for the attention of their industry, they're putting more money and effort into transforming their conferences into mindshare-grabbing shows.

Why it matters: Tech firms use these events to woo business partners, inspire users, reward loyal developers and attract programming talent. For a wildly profitable industry, they're also becoming a new arena of excess.

Driving the news: Salesforce's Dreamforce, which runs this week in San Francisco, features former President Obama, soccer star Megan Rapinoe and Apple CEO Tim Cook, among many, many other people not known for their CRM software expertise.

  • It's not just Dreamforce, though. Splunk paid for Obama to appear at its conference earlier this year, while everyone from Adobe to Zoom uses celebrities to fill seats and boost buzz at their events.

What they're saying: "Every year we look at the previous year's Dreamforce and think 'How can we go bigger and better?' Somehow every year we raise the bar," Brigitte Donner, Salesforce's Dreamforce chair, told Axios.

New this year:

  • More monks: 30 monastics will travel from Plum Village, a monastic community in France, to lead over 6,000 people in mindfulness practices, with a keynote on Friday.
  • Where's the beef? Not at Dreamforce. Organizers say going beef-free at this year's conference will save at least 9 million gallons of water.

By the numbers: Dreamforce is the biggest of the company events, drawing 170,000 people to San Francisco's Moscone Center and snarling traffic downtown.

  • "We love hosting 170,000 of our closest friends, but it does bring some logistical challenges," Donner acknowledges.

Perks: In addition to providing a roster of celebrities during the day, it's common for these conferences to throw a gigantic attendee party at a big stadium, concert venue or amusement park. I've been to...

  • Microsoft events at Universal Studios
  • San Francisco's baseball stadium rented out by Oracle
  • I've also heard everyone from Pat Benatar to Metallica to Maroon 5 play for a crowd of developers. (Fleetwood Mac is playing at Dreamfest this year.)

Yes, but: Developer conferences can also cost a couple thousand dollars to attend. That's fine if your employer foots the bill, but can be quite a burden for freelancers and the self-employed.

The bottom line: Corporate decision makers wield a lot of purchasing power and tech companies are spending freely for their attention.

Go deeper: Tech giants reach further into health care

Go deeper

Updated 9 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 11,288,094 — Total deaths: 531,244 — Total recoveries — 6,075,489Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 2,839,917 — Total deaths: 129,676 — Total recoveries: 894,325 — Total tested: 34,858,427Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona hot spot near capacity.
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Trump extends PPP application deadlineKimberly Guilfoyle tests positive.
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: 31 MLB players test positive as workouts resume.
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.

Protester dies after car drives through closed highway in Seattle

Protesters gather on Interstate 5 on June 23, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

One person is dead and another is in serious condition after a car drove onto a closed freeway in Seattle early Saturday and into protesters against police brutality, AP reports.

  • "Summer Taylor, 24, of Seattle died in the evening at Harborview Medical Center, spokesperson Susan Gregg said."

Where it stands: The suspect, Dawit Kelete of Seattle, fled the scene after hitting the protesters, and was later put in custody after another protester chased him for about a mile. He was charged with two counts of vehicular assault. Officials told the AP they did not know whether it was a targeted attack, but the driver was not impaired.

Trump's failing culture wars

Data: Google; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

President Trump built his political brand by stoking the nation's culture wars, but search data is showing us how much harder it's been for him to replicate that success while running against another white man in his 70s — and while there's a coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture: Google Trends data shows Trump's "Sleepy Joe" name-calling isn't generating nearly the buzz "Crooked Hillary" (or "Little Marco") did in 2016. Base voters who relished doubting President Obama's birth certificate aren't questioning Biden's.