Wired does yeoman work:
It’s hard to overstate how massive the conference is. The annual event, now in its 13th year, draws 160,000 attendees—about a fifth of San Francisco’s population—all hoping to network and strike deals with other enterprise companies.
With many of the city’s hotels booked at full capacity, Salesforce even brought in a cruise ship to accommodate more bodies. The 965-foot-long Dreamboat, docked at San Francisco’s Pier 27, provided an additional 1,073 cabins, priced at $250 to $2000 per night. It too is sold out—and it has sparked the ire of at least one local watchdog group aiming to protect the waterfront from unseemly development.
But perhaps the most visible display of Dreamforce’s pull is its ability to literally stop traffic (well, while creating more elsewhere). A full block of Howard Street, a major thoroughfare in the South of Market district, has been closed off for the week. Workers have laid synthetic grass down on the cement, dotted it with colorful beanbag chairs, added outdoor games, and erected concert stages. On nearby blocks, businesses rented out whole restaurants and bars to give their employees—and their networking contacts—reprieve from the crowded halls of the cavernous Moscone Center, the main site of the conference. So-called Dreamforce “ambassadors” are trained for hours and do multiple walkthroughs of the space ahead of the conference so they can give proper directions to the unwieldy throng of attendees.
I'm skeptical of the 160,000-attendee figure (does that count support staff?), but otherwise it might give you a sense of scale. It's a bit overwhelming, in fact. Even the final event, a Q&A with Mark Benioff, filled a 1500-seat room.
It'll take me a few days, at least, to process all that I've absorbed this week. Right now I'm about two hours from O'Hare, looking forward to seeing Parker and taking a shower. (At least the nice young couple sitting next to me, with their very busy and not-quite-potty-trained two-year-old, really have nothing to say about me not having shaved yet today.)