Howard St. CLOSED… For what?

Oracle OpenWorld 2006

I knew Howard & 3rd would be closed from 10/18-27. The lite-brite sign started announcing this more than a month ago. Closed for what? I assumed road construction. Wrong. 

I don’t know why I didn’t put 2 + 2 together. Oracle has been front page of everything in the City for the past two weeks. They closed Howard from 3rd-4th Streets to make room for acres of air-conditioned tents and dozens of 3-story multi-media Jumbotron billboards. Apparently the Moscone Convention Center (and all of its annexes) was just not big enough for Oracle’s Open World Conference.  An estimated 42,000 people attended the conference, plus a couple thousand more to staff the 5-day event. Apparently finding a hotel room during the week was no easy chore—many last-minute attendees were forced to share rooms with colleagues, some with complete strangers. Of the City’s 50,000 total hotel rooms, at least 15,000 were occupied by tech professionals attending Open World. The event was expected to pump $60 million into the local San Francisco economy. That’s $12 million per day.

Did I attend the conference? No, but my friend Jane did. She said every day it was crazy getting in, crazy getting around, and crazy trying to leave. She said the women were definitely outnumbered. Every breakout session was standing room only… “Just a bunch of boys standing in the back of the room shoulder-to-shoulder wearing dorky glasses and and doing work punching keys into their Blackberries. They weren’t even listening to the session sepakers!”  

Jane let me tag along with her to the Wrap-Up closing party on the final day. I was joking around about wearing a big red hat, but no one got my joke. (I bet you didn’t get it, either.) My ticket in to the party was a left over conference ID badge. We were greeted at the entrance by a 6’5″ woman with a super-deep voice. “Welcome, Jane. Welcome, La Vonda.” I politely said “Thank you” and ran as fast as I could to the nearest bar. The closing party was nothing special. I was hoping to catch some of the vendor exhibits, but they all packed up earlier that morning. However, I did get to see the Oracle BMW racing vessel up close—it’s pretty sweet. 

Earlier in the week Oracle had a few tricks up their sleeves. They tried going from geek to chic by rolling out the red carpet and throwing an A-list after-party with special performances by Elton John, Joan Jett, Devo and Berlin. This party was held at the Cow Palace. I heard very few people showed up for the concert. Where was everyone? Rumor has it conference-goers were all back in their hotel rooms on their laptops searching craigslist for other entertainment. By searching the term “oracle” in the San Francisco region, there were pages of ads like these — A | B | C 

These Trix are definitely NOT for kids.

Anyway, here’s a clip of Joan Jett performing at the Cow Palace.

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