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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

4 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.

6 hours ago - World

Scoop: Germany urges Congress not to sanction Putin’s pipeline

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The German government has urged members of Congress not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, arguing that doing so will "weaken" U.S. credibility and "ultimately damage transatlantic unity," according to documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: At a time when roughly 100,000 Russian troops are massing at its border, Ukraine views Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat to its security. The pipeline would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion.