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The City by the Bay is indeed the nucleus of the tech industry, as well as a world hub of social media and computer animation, and hosting or attending a conference in the heart of the action is undoubtedly on every techie’s bucket list. San Francisco is also known for being a progressive city with a rich history, and with one of the most vibrant cultural scenes in the country, as well as unparalleled views and landscapes. In other words, it’s a great place to visit.
It’s no surprise that San Francisco is host to some of the biggest tech-and STEM related conferences on the planet. But they’re not just for tech experts. Leaders in all types of fields are looking to the tech community for solutions in an ever-changing digital age. Here are some of the top conferences in San Francisco, for both those in the tech world, and those adjacent to it.
The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference celebrates all things Mac. During the five-day convention, developers can attend technical and design sessions, learn about new features directly from the engineers who built them, and receive one-on-one consultations from iExperts on app design, marketing, distribution, and more. The conference also features guest speakers, daily yoga and workout sessions, networking get-togethers, and the legendary Bash, where attendees are treated to live music from some of the biggest names in the industry.
Dreamforce is the annual conference held by Salesforce, an SF-based software company specializing in customer-relationship management services. Here, business owners from across the country convene to attend keynotes and workshops, and to check out the latest and greatest in customer-relations technology. The goal of the conference and expo is to inspire and empower, and also have a good time: happy hours and parties are peppered throughout the weeklong event.
GDC is the place where the future of gaming takes shape. Programmers, designers, artists, audio specialists – basically anyone who has a stake in the gaming industry – get together to learn, inspire and get inspired, and network. The event features a series of workshops on various game development concepts such as design, narrative, and UX, as well as a sprawling expo with over 500 exhibitors showcasing the latest tools and services in the industry.
The AAMA Global Healthcare Conference tackles healthcare issues in an increasingly digital age. Medical professionals, researchers, and industry leaders convene with innovators in digital technology, as well as investors and entrepreneurs, to discuss the impacts of technology on healthcare. Previous topics have included “AI: The Next Digital Frontier for Healthcare Innovation” and “Disruptive Innovations: Breakthroughs in Healthcare and Life Sciences”. The conference features keynote talks and panel discussions, as well as a handful of social events for networking and unwinding.
The tech world is big, so you can bet the conferences will be, too. San Francisco has more than its fair share of state-of-the-art convention centers and exhibition venues to accommodate the large crowds — not to mention the heaps of equipment and amenities required to get a conference worthy of the Silicon Valley elite up and running, and running smoothly.
Located in the culturally-rich South of Market neighborhood, the George R. Moscone Convention Center is San Francisco’s largest conference complex, with over two million square feet of space. This includes 700,000 square feet of exhibit space, and more than 100 meeting rooms. The center is also at the forefront of environmental sustainability, with a large rooftop solar electricity system, and a recycling program that diverts over two million pounds of waste annually.
Built over 100 years ago the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was historically mainly used as an arena and concert hall, hosting some of the biggest names in show business. It’s also been home to circuses, roller derbies, Warriors home games, and, of course, conventions, trade shows, and expos. Not only is the building utterly beautiful, with its hand-carved granite exterior and old-school marquee, it offers 60,000 feet of space, and can accommodate up to 8,500 people.
The impressive Beaux-Arts-style Kaiser Convention Center was built in 1914, and in 1979 was designated an Oakland Historic Landmark. Over the years it has hosted hundreds of notable concerts and historical events, including a famed speech by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1962. The center was shuttered in 2006, and has since undergone extensive renovations, and is on track to reopen in 2020, with a refurbished theater, and a brand new 9,500 square foot terrace.
A 12-minute drive from downtown San Francisco, the Oakland Convention Center is one of the largest conference centers in the Bay Area, with over 100,000 square feet of exhibit, meeting rooms, and convention space. Its connection to the Oakland Marriott City Center hotel adds an extra element of convenience to any convention, and Oakland itself offers a wealth of cultural activities, incredible dining, and gorgeous views of the Bay, and, of course, the famous Golden Gate Bridge.