Tech

Oracle will move its annual OpenWorld conference to Las Vegas because San Francisco is too expensive

Key Points
  • Oracle is moving its annual OpenWorld conference from San Francisco to Las Vegas and it signed a three-year agreement with the Caesars Forum for the move.
  • The San Francisco Travel Association estimates the move will cost San Francisco $64 million a year.
  • The travel group told members that Oracle cited San Francisco's high hotel prices and "poor street conditions" as reasons that attendees were unhappy with the city.
An exterior view of the Oracle Field Office at Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia, October 18, 2019.
Tom Brenner | Reuters

Oracle's OpenWorld conference, one of the biggest annual technology events in San Francisco, is moving to Las Vegas in 2020 and will remain in Sin City for at least three years.

According to an email that the San Francisco Travel Association (SFTA) sent to its members on Monday, Oracle has signed a three-year agreement to bring its flagship event to the Caesars Forum in Las Vegas.

"Oracle stated that their attendee feedback was that San Francisco hotel rates are too high," the email, which was viewed by CNBC, said. "Poor street conditions was another reason why they made this difficult decision."

The SFTA, a private nonprofit organization that promotes San Francisco tourism, said it's issuing a cancellation bulletin, covering five days and over 62,000 room nights in October 2020, October 2021 and September 2022.

"The estimated economic impact of each of the above is $64,000,000, a huge loss for our city," the email said.

A spokesperson for Oracle confirmed the move, and highlighted the company's other connections to San Francisco. Oracle recently won naming rights for the baseball stadium in San Francisco where the Giants play.

"Oracle is excited to offer a modern, state-of-the-art experience for attendees at Oracle OpenWorld and Code One 2020 in Las Vegas," the spokesperson said in a written statement to CNBC. "The city and its vast amenities are tailor-made for hosting large-scale events, and we look forward to bringing the industry's most comprehensive technology and developer conference to America's premier hospitality destination. Oracle continues to enjoy a strong relationship with the City of San Francisco and partners such as the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors. We look forward to working with our longstanding counterparts in San Francisco on future events."

Oracle's first OpenWorld in Las Vegas will also be the first since the death of co-CEO Mark Hurd in October. Hurd, who was appointed CEO in 2014 alongside Safra Catz, took a leave of absence in September for unspecified health reasons. Catz is now the lone CEO, with founder Larry Ellison still serving as chief technology officer and chairman of the board.

Oracle launched OpenWorld in 1996, and the conference has called San Francisco home for about the past two decades. The event attracts more than 60,000 Oracle customers and partners and gives the company a chance to show off its latest technologies. In recent years, the event has been trumped by Dreamforce, Salesforce's annual conference, which claims over 170,000 attendees.

Both events are known for shutting down a large swath of downtown San Francisco, around the Moscone Center, wreaking havoc on the city's already congested streets. And as tech companies have started congregating in San Francisco, rather than further south in Silicon Valley, prices have skyrocketed.

According to a survey published in October by Cheaphotels.org, San Francisco is the fourth most expensive city for hotels, behind Nashville, Boston and San Jose. The average double room at San Francisco's cheapest hotel with at least three stars was $214 in October, the survey showed. Las Vegas was all the way at the other end of the spectrum.

"For cheaper options, the iconic city of Las Vegas emerged as the most affordable destination, with average hotel rates of just $69 per night for a double room," the survey said.

The Caesars Forum, opening in 2020, will include a 550,000 square foot conference center, with 300,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and "the two largest ballrooms in the world," according to its website. The $375 million building is located on the Strip near Harrah's Las Vegas, the LINQ Hotel, Flamingo Las Vegas as well as Caesars Palace and The Venetian.

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