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Art by Clark Miller.
Art by Clark Miller.

The Buzz Is Gone: Tech Companies (With a Few Exceptions) Are Reining In Once-Legendary Holiday Parties

One private Katy Perry concert aside, it’s the end of the year-end corporate bacchanal.

Art by Clark Miller.
Dec. 16, 2022 9:00 AM PST

On December 8, several thousand Adobe employees and their guests milled around San Francisco’s Chase Center arena for the company’s holiday-slash-40th-anniversary party. Starting at 7 p.m., the Adobe workers and their dates shot hoops in an arcade, received spray-on temporary tattoos, and grabbed drinks and food (tacos, sliders, dumplings) from a variety of vendors. One employee noted that the abundance of activities and refreshments felt “like a music festival.”

Around 8:30, CEO Shantanu Narayen ascended a stage on the arena floor to thank employees for their work and screen a company-produced video. Eighty-two-year-old Adobe founder John Warnock made an appearance, to much applause. The stage then transformed into a mushroom-filled fantasyland and out walked the night’s surprise headliner: Katy Perry.

For roughly 90 minutes, the pop star, dressed in a red latex leotard with matching fringe chaps, serenaded the crowd with her greatest hits—“Hot N Cold,” “I Kissed a Girl,” “Last Friday Night (TGIF),” “Teenage Dream,” “California Gurls.” There were dancers and smoke effects, confetti bursts and beat drops, all for the enjoyment of one lucky bunch of tech workers. Said one attendee, “People seemed ecstatic.”

And they had good reason to be: Unlike the rest of Silicon Valley this year, Adobe went big on its 2022 holiday party. The festivities harkened back to an earlier time in tech, when spirits were high, stocks were higher and employees were showered with an embarrassing array of perks. In 2015, Yahoo reportedly spent $7 million on its “Great Gatsby”–themed holiday party, which included a champagne tower, burlesque dancers and photo-ops with a vintage Rolls-Royce. In 2018, Meta Platforms (then Facebook) transformed San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts into a winter wonderland, with an ice sculptor carving a block of ice with a chainsaw and fake snow falling into the night. As recently as last year, Salesforce employees ended the year with a private Maroon 5 concert at Oracle Park.

Now those parties represent a bygone era of excess.

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