No really. Calm down. Deep breaths. Hear me out. I’m not a fan of this move either (I’m a centrist who is largely apolitical at times, and this kind of divisive move rankles against my more peace-seeking sensibilities), but I think I know why they did it.
Nooo, no. Stop. Stop stop st… STOP. That’s not why. I kn… Yes I know you thin… LET ME FINISH.
Clearly the choice of Hillagore is a politically charged one. But before you go off the rails with cries of “WELL I’M NOT GOING TO DREAMFORCE NOW”… ok, before you go off any more of those rails… just… hear me out. Benioff is not so short-sighted; he had to know this was going to ruffle feathers, and a lot of them. Let’s face it, the Business Airspace has no small amount of planes that fly at Right angles most of the time. And our political landscape right now is metaphorically akin to something resembling the offspring of a house of mirrors, an electric fence of Jurassic Park-strength wattage, and a spotter tower filled with over-caffeinated snipers strung out on PCP. You don’t even have to take a wrong step and you’ll have bullets whizzing around your ears.
These are known quantities. Marc Benioff is well-known for being a left-leaning bleeding-heart liberal idealist, but he is most definitely not stupid. Therefore, it stands to reason that he made this decision despite knowing the reaction it would have, believing the gains would outweigh the possible backlash.
Where could the answer lie then? At the end of May, Salesforce received Authority to Operate by the FedRAMP, effectively opening its Government Cloud for business. Inviting two prominent Democratic Party representatives to speak is just good business for Salesforce, because it gets their foot in the door for the Government Cloud.
Think about it. Salesforce is, at the very least, a database of businesses and/or people, with the ability to expand far beyond that, into things such as ERP and project tracking. It’s a collection of DATA. What government agencies are going to want to collect data? Well, you’ve got intelligence agencies, but they’d never let another company track their data. Probably the same story for the IRS. But then there’s Social Security, Housing and Urban Development… social programs and infrastructure. And historically, which party puts more money into social programs and infrastructure? Hillagore’s Party.
I’m not talking about whether or not anyone should put money into those programs. I’m simply saying that Salesforce and Marc Benioff know who their demographic is for the Goverment Cloud, and they’re marketing to that. Hillary is already pretty much THE shoe-in for the Dems in this upcoming election. If she wins, and had a marvelous experience at DF14, it’s a huge feather in Salesforce’s cap, business-wise. There will be a lot of money to be made. This is a business decision.
Sure, they could have invited Paul Ryan or someone like that to get the opposing viewpoint, but there’s a few reasons why they won’t. One, I think Benioff would have a hard time playing mediator; he’s not unbiased and he’s wise enough to know that. Two, it wouldn’t accomplish their business goal, and might actually take away from a positive Hillary experience.
Yes, there will almost assuredly be protestors at the conference, but please don’t count yourself among them. You’ve got better things to do at Dreamforce than waste your time accomplishing nothing except rubbing elbows with other people who think the same way you do. For the record, I’d be saying the same thing to the other side, were the tables turned.
Salesforce is an inclusive platform; it’s remarkably democratic (and I mean that in the general definition of the word, not referring to the party) in that it gives a lot of power to individuals in how they set up their business software. It enables ANYONE with sufficient intelligence to maintain their business. There are no politics on an Account page, no party lines drawn in how you configure your workflow. Salesforce, and therefore Dreamforce, is about working TOGETHER, not about being divided. So don’t let yourself fall into the Us vs. Them trap, because there’s no room for it at my table, and there’s no room for it at Dreamforce.