Every March, the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival descends on the city of Austin, Texas. The two-week, multi-themed event receives international attention for its panel discussions, film screenings, musical performances, parties and technological demonstrations.
The first half of SXSW is dubbed Interactive Week and runs from March 10 through March 16 this year, alongside the film portion of the festival. Interactive Week is touted as an “ideas and inspiration” event, bringing together the industry’s innovators, pros and emerging talent. Last year, 37,600 participants and more than 3,000 speakers attended, and the number is expected to grow even larger this year!
Who to see
This year’s keynote presenters and featured speakers include serious all-stars at the forefront of the technology industry, including:
- Yasmin Green: As the director of research and development for Jigsaw, Green leads the team’s innovation efforts. She also oversees projects on counter-radicalization and fragile states. Green helped create the Redirect Method, which uses targeted advertising to divert at-risk audiences away from extremist online content.
- Diane Bryant: In her role as executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group for Intel Corporation, Bryant leads the worldwide organization that develops data center platforms for the digital services economy.
- Alexis Ohanian: In addition to being the co-founder of Reddit, Ohanian is also the bestselling author of“Without Their Permission,” an avid investor in startups and an activist for the open internet.
- Andrew Coy and Sonya M. Pryor-Jones: In President Obama’s White House, Coy served as co-chair of the first ever Maker Interagency Working Group under the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Technology. Pryor-Jones is the Chief Implementation Officer for The Fab Foundation.
Get a full rundown of all speakers and sessions at SXSW Interactive here.
What to attend
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of panels, sessions, speakers, parties, lounges and more at the Interactive Festival. What are some of the hottest events?
- SXSW Interactive Opening Party: This legendary event kicks off the Interactive Festival. Held on March 10 this year, the party always features hundreds of industry experts, crazy technology and professionals looking to network. The lineup has been closely guarded, but it’s sure to be a great night!
- The Accelerator Pitch event: Held in the Startup Village and taking place March 11 to March 12, this event is one of the highlights of the festival. Over 50 interactive technology companies pitch their ideas to a panel of judges in front of a live audience, providing a great opportunity to learn more about what’s going on in emerging technology sectors. There is also a new “super accelerator” competition scheduled for March 13 in which 10 winners of the pitch event will be invited back to re-pitch in front of a new audience and a new set of judges!
- The Sony WOW! Factory: Sony’s WOW! Factory showcases the newest technology and experimental concepts. Basically, it’s every techie’s dream. This year, there will be an immersive innovation laboratory featuring conversational androids, virtual reality, image recognition and, of course, live music.
You can explore the full schedule of all SXSW events here. WP Engine has also put together a great list of technology sessions that shouldn’t be missed!
It’s important to note that all the events on this list require badges or wristbands, but there are plenty of activities open to the general public. Whether you live here in Austin, Texas, or are coming in from out of town, have a great time and get ready to geek out!