This week, Thales Cyrino, a cybersecurity sales director from So Paulo, Brazil, hugged people in the center of Moscone Center.
It was a shocking scene in the setting of the 2020s, wistful for a simpler era. Thousands of people lingered around the convention center as they registered for the RSA cybersecurity conference.
Cyrino and his coworkers at NTT, the international telecom giant, ran into an old buddy every few minutes, enthusiastically screamed out their name, and hugged. "It's great to see so many friends we haven't seen in a long time," Cyrino added.
RSA was founded in 1991 and holds an annual conference in San Francisco that attracts over 40,000 people. It was the last major tech event before COVID radically altered the planet in March 2020. During the meeting, San Francisco Mayor London Breed proclaimed a state of emergency. As the tech sector became more remote, major tech gatherings such as South By Southwest and others were canceled. Now that RSA has returned, the city has high hopes for the tourists and cash that IT conferences provided before the pandemic.
The City's chief economist, Ted Egan, told The Examiner that conventions and business conferences are "important parts of our hospitality industry." "Before the epidemic, tech-related conferences were the main source of revenue for that company. "Technology or science-related meetings or conferences accounted for nearly all of the major conferences."
Before the epidemic, tech conferences brought in about $2 billion in income, accounting for nearly a fifth of the city's tourism earnings. Then, in 2020, tech conference tourism hit a wall, and it's only now starting to rise back up. Moscone Center held 49 conventions in 2019. Moscone held only five events in 2020 when it was closed for the majority of the year. This year, Moscone has confirmed 34 conventions. According to the city, roughly half of San Francisco's hotels have been rented out.
This year's RSA has a greater significance. (The conference and the firm for which it is named are known by their initials rather than their full names.) The namesakes are Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman, the company's three co-founders, as well as the initials of their last names.)
The Nasdaq index, which is heavily weighted in technology, is in free fall, having lost about a quarter of its value since the end of 2021. However, the decline of Web3, the frothy region of technology filled by the digital world of the "meta sphere" and the digital money of bitcoin, is driving those losses.
That's not the case in cybersecurity, where government and financial institutions fund a $185 billion industry that's as recession-proof as anything in tech.
There are a variety of motives to hug somebody.
"Isn't it wonderful to be back in 3-D?" At the conference's opening keynote, Rohit Ghai, the CEO of RSA, questioned a big crowd. Following that, there was a standing ovation.
Pindrop, an Atlanta-based company that detects false phone calls to prevent fraud, set up shop at Fourth and Howard streets with a 40-foot tour bus to demonstrate their technology and meet with clients. The firm's chief marketing officer, Mark Horne, told The Examiner, "This was our last trip before the pandemic." "It's fantastic to see folks here again." We like our time here."
Two major conferences on cloud computing are coming up, focusing on the demands of businesses rather than the whims of consumers. In late August, VMware Explore will be held in Moscone. Then, in September, the largest San Francisco tech convention of all, Dreamforce, returns in full force.
"Join us in person in September for an incredible three-year experience — we're getting together again for one heck of a family reunion," the business wrote in an email to conference attendees this week
The tourism dollars may even make the street closures, which have been a source of frustration for drivers in the past, seem worthwhile.