Marc Benioff sat down with Uber's CEO Travis Kalanick for the first big event of the day. They had a fireside chat with no fireplace, a common convention in Silicon Valley. Travis said reliability is the most important part of Uber's service. Prompt pick-ups and safe rides were their measures of reliability. I would also measure driver courtesy but I guess that's the point of star ratings. I have never used Uber because mass transit is cheaper in urban areas. Travis said Uber's neighborhood heat maps help direct more driver supply to areas where demand is greatest. Their operations research overlay on top of their logistics network helps predict a supply / demand imbalance.
I think it is unrealistic to assume Uber and self-driving cars will solve parking and traffic congestion. Cars in "orbit" around a city block or on standby still have to loiter somewhere while they await a passenger. Keeping the engine running means on-demand urban transport will not solve air pollution.
Marc asked Travis whether he knew if Uber had a heart. It was an obvious setup for a discussion of Salesforce's 1/1/1 philosophy and Travis missed a clear opportunity to shine. He meandered into an example of how Amazon is supposedly an inspirational workplace without addressing that culture's dissidents and escapees. Marc again turned the talk back to doing good by discussing the International Red Cross as his inspiration and Travis eventually took the hint that he should discuss generosity. The Uber app allows donations supporting Salesforce's latest charitable theme. That's it, folks. Uber's boss was mostly AWOL while Marc probed for morality. Travis expects Uber to hold "optimistic leadership" in the self-driving car market, but I want to see them exercise some moral leadership first.
The Community Cloud keynote had a few unexpected gems for me. Enterprises have figured out that embedding an impulse purchase button into experts' context discussions makes financial sense. Constant CRM data feeds build the buy recommendations. One of their sample clients was Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and I got to meet their founder Paul Rieckhoff for the first time. The IAVA people totally grok that veterans' future communities will be online and not in smoky old halls. Using Salesforce's platform to enroll veterans in benefit programs is an IAVA concept the VA should adopt.
The main keynote with Marc Benioff and friends started filling up very early. The Dreamforce chaperons ensured that we analyst types got to our reserved seats early enough. That's one of the perks I like about being an analyst. I can get used to this VIP treatment. Salesforce deserves kudos for reserving VetForce a section, and the crowd applauded them just for showing up. Military people are great at showing up on time and sitting in designated areas. I do it myself all the time, like with the analyst crowd.
Stevie Wonder was the surprise musical guest at Dreamforce. He played a medley of his biggest hits. The guy is clearly talented and I recognize his skill even if his stuff is not the kind of music I like. I am not very familiar with his repertoire but I don't think "Dreamforce" was in his original lyrics. I learned something today from Dreamforce attendees. Marc Benioff's keynote audience gave VetForce veterans a polite ovation but not everyone stood up. It seemed like a forced and charitable acknowledgement, as if it were a reluctant gift. Stevie Wonder got a much longer and more heartfelt standing ovation from the entire hall (except me, I'm not a fan). Public ovations have emotional content. Virtuosos are irreplaceable but warriors are expendable. Society's verdict is clear. Stevie Wonder makes people feel good. Veterans make people feel bad.