With over 30 years of tradition and appearances by Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg to name but a few, South By Southwest — SXSW, as it is known — is preparing yet another edition of its awesome festival. Held annually in Austin, Texas, the event gathers more than 400,000 people including entrepreneurs, enthusiasts and ordinary people, and is geared towards the world’s latest innovations in the fields of technology, music, film and economics.
But why is SXSW so special?
Blend of creativity
In addition to the buzz created by the latest digital trends, SXSW is also in demand for its shows and movies. Artists such as James Blunt, The Strokes and Franz Ferdinand performed in Austin when they were still unknown. In the Seven Arts field, director Richard Linklater’s award-winning “Boyhood” and Alex Garland’s “Ex Machina” were shown at the festival.
SXSW is responsible for the success of many startups. The most well-known story is that of Twitter: although it was launched months before, the company got big investors because of its appearance at the 2007 edition. Two years later, Foursquare was showcased at the festival and ‘check-in’ became a very popular feature. More recently, in 2015, the ‘app of the moment’ was Meerkat, live streaming technology used by visitors to record experiences related to the event itself.
When Space X CEO, Elon Musk, spoke at the 2013 edition, it was a hit — the number of paying customers tripled compared to five years earlier. The theme at the time was space technology, but issues addressed at SXSW are not just limited to technological innovations. The following year activists Edward Snowden and Julian Assange attended and spoke about weak Internet privacy.