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There's a lot of million dollar keynotes...

Conference keynotes receive top billing and an eager crowd -- but is content or advert? It depends on who pays...
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor on

Quentin Hardy over at the New York Times reported that Oracle cancelled Marc Benioff's keynote speech at its OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

The spat revealed an interesting fact about large conferences and how much money changes hands.

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Mr. Benioff said. “You pay about $1 million to be a speaker. That is true for our show, too.”

... He was scheduled to appear Wednesday morning. “They said we were canceled,” he said. “They are giving us our million dollars back.”

I'm sure that conference goers already noticed that keynotes are designed to be theatrical advertisements -- in which case why are they paying so much to attend them?

And why are press and bloggers avidly repeating and distributing the keynote (advertising) content? That's not journalism -- it's advert distribution. The keynoters should buy advertising in their publications instead of the conference organizers getting all the loot.

Also: The whole disagreement is between Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff sounds fishy. Larry Dignan notes:

We'll overlook that Benioff runs Oracle databases and has a ton of Dell servers in the background.

Add it up and this Benioff keynote cancellation is good theater and nothing more. In the end, I think the industry is being played...

And let's not forget Mr Ellison's personal investments in Salesforce.


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