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The weirdest things we overheard at San Francisco’s Dreamforce

The Moscone Center was filled with thousands of people who attended Dreamforce in San Francisco on Tuesday. | Source: Justin Katigbak/The Standard

Dreamforce is a strange beast. If you’re not well accustomed to techspeak—what even is “SaaS” or “CMS”?—fake forests and waterfalls, a jarring amount of A-List celebs and tech’s elite milling around you in baby blue lanyards, you’ll be forgiven for questioning what on earth is going on.

And this year was no different—except that it was perhaps the strangest, most dystopian Dreamforce there’s ever been.

ChatGPT’s boss essentially admitted he’d helped create the perfect breeding ground for an advanced surveillance state, while Dreamforce commander-in-chief Marc Benioff practically begged attendees to trust his AI—even erecting a cryptic sign outside the venue’s waterfall, which read: “In Trust We AI.” No one knows what it means, not even Benioff, probably.

On a mission to bring the weirdness of it all to readers, The Standard’s reporters compiled a list of the most dystopian and bizarre comments we overheard.

Katherine Janca takes a selfie with Codey the Bear during Dreamforce in San Francisco on Tuesday. | Source: Justin Katigbak/The Standard


As we wandered into the world’s biggest nerdfest on Wednesday morning, The Standard heard a keynote presenter demoing an AI product. 

"This is what I call productivity: Somebody else is just doing the work,” they said. “It's amazing."

In their quest to become the most productive, least hard-working among us, Dreamforce attendees came up with quite a few phrases that went way over our plebeian brains. At one talk from Salesforce AI boss Clara Shih, we heard her firing out the following words in quick succession: Workflows, integrations, metadata, copilots, model-builder, confabulations.

Across the way, in the main demo hall, tech company booths displayed banners boasting products that would “harmonize your data,” whatever that means. But we weren’t alone in our confusion. 

“They were talking about Einstein this and AI that. I really didn’t understand 80% of what they were saying,” said one attendee to her friend as they rode BART back to the East Bay Tuesday evening.

At Dreamforce, attendees participated in an API hack to enter a competition and win an iPad in San Francisco on Tuesday. | Source: Justin Katigbak/The Standard

“I’m not gonna lie. I can’t keep up,” whispered one attendee while Benioff delivered the keynote address at Dreamforce. 

Still, attendees could agree on one thing: Salesforce Tower is intriguingly shaped.

“There’s Salesforce Towers all over the world—I’m sorry they don’t look like a huge phallic symbol like this one does,” said David Noe, a five-time Salesforce attendee. “With friends that I know, I’m honest with them: It looks like a freakin’ dildo!” 

Outside the event, one confused attendee asked what a large, gray, furry creature was doing at a tech conference.

“It’s a squirrel? Why does it look like that?” they said.

Flo the Flying Squirrel is Salesforce's newest mascot. The creature poses with Lawrence Aljentera, Flo's personal security for Dreamforce 2023. | Source: Liz Lindqwister/The Standard

Dolphin Sounds and Salesforce Socks

Dreamforce’s liveliest day was by far on Wednesday, when celebrities like Matthew McConaughey, and Jane Goodall descended upon San Francisco to talk tech. Later in the evening, the Foo Fighters kicked off the Dreamfest benefit concert as Demi Lovato took the stage back at the Moscone Center.

“I love a little Matthew McConaughey in the morning, eh?” said Benioff in his opener for his keynote address on Tuesday. 

The bromance between Benioff and McConaughey was palpable at their Wednesday talk.

McConaughey dubbed Benioff “Big Dolphin.” Benioff then did an actual dolphin impression to nervous laughter from the masses.

Matthew McConaughey, left, sits down with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, right, to discuss topics from Uvalde shooting in Texas to the future of AI on Wednesday. | Source: Justin Katigbak/The Standard

That evening, The Standard descended even further into the bizarre technocratic world, as backpack-wearing professionals in slacks and heels swayed to Lovato’s impromptu show in SoMa.  

In between bites of elote-on-a-stick, one tech worker insisted that the party was here to stay: “No rest. No nap, only party,” he said. 

Lovato, too, acknowledged the strange scene in front of her. At one point, the singer paused to thank the attendees for coming to her show, even if they weren’t her usual fan base of dedicated “Lovatics.”

“You guys are such a great crowd. You’re just so happy to be here—I look out in the audience and see so many smiling happy faces,” Lovato said. “Even some of you who don’t know all of my songs, you're like smiling, trying to sing along; it’s really cute!”

The Moscone Center was filled with thousands of people who networked at Dreamforce in San Francisco on Tuesday. | Source: Justin Katigbak/The Standard

Lovato won the greatest prize of them all. In a lull during her Wednesday night set, a piece of merchandise went flying up to the stage. 

“I got Salesforce socks!! That’s amazing,” Lovato said. “I will cherish this forever!”

Kevin Truong can be reached at