It's hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Fake trees. ID badges. Lines of sales professionals in business casual attire. Astroturf. Cloud-shaped things. Bear suits. Buddhist monks.

They call it Dreamforce.

The shorthand definition of Dreamforce is that it's an annual user conference hosted by Marc Benioff's cloud computing company Salesforce in San Francisco. If you've ever attended it though--or even just witnessed the gathering from outside--you know that there's a whole lot more going on than people sitting through sessions on how to use various sales apps.

Attendees of last year's main keynote were treated to a surprise performance by Stevie Wonder. This year's estimated 170,000 attendees had the opportunity to participate in mindfulness sessions led by 20 Buddhist monks.

Let's just say, if there's one thing Dreamforce does well, it's scale. And considering the continued expansion of cloud computing, it's hard to imagine Dreamforce getting any smaller. Citing research from consulting firm McKinsey & Co.,The Wall Street Journal reports that 37 percent of companies are expected to use cloud computing for at least one workload in 2018, up from 25 percent last year.

Here are some numbers from Salesforce and around the web that show how the conference has grown in size over the years and just how massive it was this week.

  • 19: The number of Dreamforce conferences that have been held.
  • 52: The number of sessions and keynotes at the first Dreamforce in 2003.
  • 2,700: The number of sessions and keynotes scheduled this year.
  • 1,300: The number of attendees registered to attend the first Dreamforce in 2003.
  • 170,000: The number registered to attend this past week.
  • 83: The number of countries from which attendees hailed this year.
  • 700,000: The square footage of the exposition space at Moscone Center, the venue Salesforce takes over for the conference.
  • 818,300: The total number of registered attendees over the history of Dreamforce.
  • 837,442: The population of San Francisco as of 2013, per the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • 15 million: The number of people expected to stream the conference online this year.
Published on: Oct 7, 2016