Livin’ the Dream(force)
Photo: Aisha Counts/Protocol

Livin’ the Dream(force)

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Good morning! We sent Workplace reporter Lizzy Lawrence and Enterprise reporter Aisha Counts to this year’s Dreamforce to see what’s on the minds of executives and conference goers. The short answer: Slack.

No longer forced to dream of Dreamforce

Dreamforce is back, baby.

Yes, that means the full Disneylandification of downtown San Francisco is complete, including waterfalls, people clad in cartoon bear costumes and soft jungle sounds pouring out of speakers. Plus, some 40,000 professionals dressed in business casual (and Dreamforce-branded sneakers).

The last full-fledged annual Salesforce conference was in 2019 and drew 171,000 attendees. This year’s conference is considerably smaller, but navigating to various conference buildings still feels like incredibly hard work, and there’s no shortage of Salesforce’s very specific, cultish culture.

The conference opened with a traditional Hawaiian blessing over the Dreamforce “Ohana”; Salesforce’s Hawaii obsession persists despite allegations of cultural appropriation. Surprise guest Lenny Kravitz took the stage next, with Salesforce mascot Astro strumming a guitar on-screen. Then, co-CEOs Marc Benioff and Bret Taylor came onstage to kick off the keynote.

  • The two highlighted the Trailblazer program, product updates for Salesforce and Slack, and Salesforce’s commitment to the environment and San Francisco public institutions.
  • Throughout the keynote, fake butterflies flapped in the trees, and the lighting color shifted depending on the topic. Green for the environment, gold for Salesforce’s Golden Hoodie program.

Salesforce Genie and Slack canvas dominated the conversations happening around the event.

  • Genie, a new real-time CRM powered by an underlying data lake, is one of the company’s most significant foundational changes in years.
  • To prove the point, Benioff wore a pair of black high-top sneakers with the company’s newest fuzzy friend: a purple bunny named Genie.
  • But front and center throughout the conference was Slack. Slack canvas, which was built on the foundation of shareable document software Quip, is the company’s play to drive more collaboration within Slack.

Yesterday was the big day for announcements, but we’ll be running around Dreamforce until tomorrow to mingle with the many people so we can share more about the word on the ground. Just don’t try to give us Salesforce sneakers.

— Aisha Counts and Lizzy Lawrence

TikTok but with money

Yesterday’s “Made On YouTube” event was basically a competition to see how many ways creators and YouTube execs could talk about beating TikTok without actually saying the word “TikTok.”

YouTube is rolling out ad revenue-sharing for Shorts and lowering the barrier to join its partner program, which execs said will bring more “sustainability and inclusivity” to creators. Previously, both TikTok and YouTube paid short-form creators through a set fund.

  • Ads will run in between Shorts, similar to the way ads appear as stand-alone videos in between TikToks. Creators can earn 45% of the ad revenue collected on Shorts.
  • This is the first time creators can earn ad revenue from short-form video, a change that influencers like Hank Green have called on TikTok to implement.

The announcement is an obvious jab at TikTok, which has been a frontrunner in the short-form video race. And by the way, YouTube didn’t mention the word “TikTok” once.

  • Execs instead emphasized that they don’t want creators to be “multiplatform,” meaning they hop from TikTok to YouTube depending on what video they make or audience they intend to reach. They want creators to be “multiformat,” which means they do everything on one platform.
  • “This is a huge incentive for me to put all of my work into one place, which means my audience doesn't have to jump between apps to see all of my videos,” said Kris Collins, who originally found fame on TikTok, during the event.

Will YouTube’s moneymaking strategy for Shorts turn people away from TikTok? It’s likely too soon to tell, and many new creators have already built huge communities on TikTok. But if people can make money from short-form video elsewhere, don’t be surprised if they start flocking to Shorts. “Other platforms are focused on getting people their 15 seconds of fame, which is great. But YouTube is taking a different approach,” Collins said.

— Sarah Roach

Gaming’s next challenge

Michael Blank spent two decades at Electronic Arts watching the traditional video game industry evolve, first as a game development producer and later as SVP of the company’s player network. But earlier this year, Blank joined Polygon Studios, a blockchain gaming company, as chief operating officer.

Blockchain gaming is the industry’s latest challenge, and Blank wanted in. Though he left EA, he hopes his new role will benefit the company in the long run, Blank told Protocol’s Nick Statt.

  • “How do I help a gaming company, whether it was EA or another one, think about the future of gaming?” he asked. “I felt like I had the opportunity at Polygon to do this beyond gaming … to help create the future of the internet.”
  • Gamers still haven’t quite warmed up to the idea of blockchain gaming, but Blank only sees opportunity: “I thought that these were new vehicles of engagement.”

Blank isn’t worried about the state of crypto, despite the crash. He anticipates that blockchain will create new opportunities for players in the same way that mobile or free-to-play once did. “With any new innovation, there are peaks and valleys,” he said.

Read more on how Blank decided to make the jump from EA to blockchain gaming.

A MESSAGE FROM VERSAPAY

The AR Disconnect happens when AR teams and customers struggle to communicate, causing slowed cash flow and damaged relationships. If that sounds familiar, get our new report covering what's really hurting customer experience, and what you can do about it.

Learn more

People are talking

The key to drawing in older gamers is melding nostalgic IP with new tech, said Zero Latency CTO Scott Vandonkelaar:

  • “A really common thread is people who used to play games when they were younger, and they're still looking to come in and re-engage with these games.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she’s concerned about Russia using crypto to get around sanctions:

  • “Back then we already knew that countries like North Korea had used crypto to skirt sanctions and launder at least hundreds of millions of dollars. And Russia could easily be part of that.”

The state of innovation

Join Protocol Policy at 10 a.m. PT Tuesday, where they'll dive into the U.S.’s national strategy on innovation, what’s working, what isn’t and what policy changes we can expect from the year ahead. RSVP here.

Making moves

Bryan O’Sullivan joined Zoox as SVP of software. O’Sullivan previously spent the last decade leading AI teams at Meta.

Tom Casey is Splunk's new SVP and GM. Casey last worked at DocuSign as SVP, engineering.

Jordan Wright, Armaan Gandhi and Ryan McFarlane are joining Parallel as chief clinical officer, VP of marketing and SVP of K12 revenue, respectively. Wright served on the digital health platform’s board, Gandhi comes from Cerebral and McFarlane’s from SchoolMint.

Databricks and Kyndryl joined BSA | The Software Alliance. Databricks’ GC of public affairs and strategic partnerships, Scott Starbird, will join BSA’s board.

Matt van Geldere is the new chief people officer of Thunes, a cross-border payments firm based in Singapore.

In other news

Elon Musk will be questioned under oath as part of his legal battle with Twitter. It's scheduled for Sept. 26 and 27.

The Biden administration created a team for distributing money from the Chips Act. Ronnie Chatterji, chief economist at the Commerce Department, will oversee the program.

Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot is being investigated by the FTC. This follows the agency investigating the company's purchase of One Medical.

The Biden administration named a team to oversee the distribution of $52.7 billion in funds from the Chips bill. Commerce Department chief economist Aaron "Ronnie" Chatterji will serve as its coordinator.

Spotify has finally launched audiobooks, allowing users to purchase and download individual titles.

Chamath Palihapitiya is winding down two blank-check firms, Social Capital Hedosophia VI and Social Capital IV, as the SPAC industry slows down.

Amazon said it would hire 5,000 refugees in the next three years. The commitment is part of a pledge by 45 companies to hire a total of 20,000 refugees.

Every car on the New York MTA is getting security cameras. Civil liberties groups are calling it “surveillance theater,” claiming that the plan is a clear violation of privacy.

Colorado residents can now pay taxes in crypto, including individual income tax, business income tax, sales and use tax, withholding tax, severance tax and excise fuel tax.

Recruiting for the climate revolution

Plenty of tech workers want to work in climate tech. A new “draft” is making that more attainable. Recruiting platform Climate Draft yesterday announced its second draft process, which connects top tech talent with fast-growing climate startups. The first was an invite-only network of participants that spans 140 companies, 30 venture capital firms and 200 Big Tech senior leaders. The second round wants to go even bigger. “We’ve created this pool of awesome people who have all raised their hands, self-selected and said, ‘I care about climate,’” Jonathan Strauss, its co-founder and CEO, told Protocol’s Michelle Ma.

A MESSAGE FROM VERSAPAY

The AR Disconnect happens when AR teams and customers struggle to communicate, causing slowed cash flow and damaged relationships. If that sounds familiar, get our new report covering what's really hurting customer experience, and what you can do about it.

Learn more

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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