Category Archives: SXSW

SXSW is Canceled Due to Concerns About Coronavirus

South by Southwest, the annual tech, film and music conference held in Austin, Texas, has been canceled due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, CNBC reported. The unexpected thing in this situation is that it was not SXSW that chose to cancel the conference. Instead, Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued an order canceling SXSW, after declaring a local disaster in the city.

According to CNBC, Austin officials said there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Travis County, where Austin is located. But confirmed cases around the world passed 100,000 Friday.

SXSW posted a 2020 Event Update with some explanation of what happened. It started with: “The City of Austin has canceled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU. SXSW will faithfully follow the City’s directions.”

…As recently as Wednesday, Austin Public Health stated that “there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.” However, this situation evolved rapidly, and we honor and respect the City of Austin’s decision. We are committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites.

We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU. For our registrants, clients, and participants, we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ…

The event update does not provide any information about refunds for those who were attending. CNBC reported that badges range in cost from $1,395 to $1,725. For many people, that is a significant amount of money to lose. Before the cancellation, Facebook, Intel, Twitter, and TikTok pulled out of SXSW, in part because these companies had limited travel for employees in response to coronavirus.

Are you planning to attend a big conference this year? Keep in mind that there is a chance that the event might be canceled before it starts. When in doubt, try to contact whomever is in charge of the conference and ask them about their plans. SXSW is not the only conference that has canceled this year – but it is probably the largest one.

Memoto Selected as Finalist for SXSW Accelerator Competition

MemotoMemoto is a Swedish startup company that began as a Kickstarter project in 2012. They are the creators of the Memoto Lifelogging Camera. It is a tiny device that allows users to not only capture, but also share, whatever special moments of their life that they choose to. The idea was to make a camera that was small enough so that it wouldn’t get in the way. The camera allows people to organically capture the small, but important, moments of their lives.

The Memoto Lifelogging Camera takes 5 megapixel pictures. It comes in Memoto Orange, Graphite Gray, and Arctic White. Clip the camera onto your clothing, and it will start taking pictures for you at a rate of 2 photos per minute. When you want to stop taking photos, just put the camera down or put it into your pocket.

Those photos are then safely stored on Memoto’s storage service. There are Memoto apps for both iPhone and Android that will automatically organize the photos on a timeline for you. The Memoto Lifelogging Camera has GPS and records time data, so you won’t have to remember the name of the restaurant you went to while using the camera. It will have the name recorded for you. From there, you can easily share your photos on Facebook. Memoto is currently in the pre-launch phase. Their first edition is expected to ship in April of 2013.

The Memoto Lifelogging Camera has been selected as a finalist in the Innovative Web Technologies category for the 5th Annual SXSW Accelerator competition. The SXSW event takes place from March 11th – 13th, 2013. On March 12th, judges will announce a winner to each of the categories. Their decision will be revealed on March 13th at 6:00 p.m. in the Austin Convention Center in Room 10A/B. Memoto will be presenting in the Accelerator competition in the Innovative Web Technologies at 3:30 on the fourth floor of the Downtown Austin Hilton.

“Homeless Hotspots” Raise Hackles at SXSW


photo: SXSW 2011 - brittany ryan small

The buzz is spreading about a marketing firm’s unique attempt to draw attention (and contributions) to the homeless population in Austin during the annual tech portion of SXSW.

BBH Labs, with offices in NYC and London, is the brains (some would argue otherwise) behind this publicity stunt where homeless folks are outfitted with a wireless internet transmitter and dispatched around the popular tech start-up conference. For a PayPal donation, you can “buy” Internet access for as long as you need. The donations, according to BBH, go to the homeless person, er….hosting the hotspot. The marketing firm teamed up with an Austin-area homeless advocacy group to create the attention-grabbing project.

The reaction has been largely been one of disgust. Get on Twitter and search  #homelesshotspots to take a peek at what people are saying.

My take? Advocacy efforts aren’t always popular and sometimes the execution can appear misguided. This seems like an interesting way to put the issue of homelessness square in the middle of an environment created to showcase how advanced we’ve gotten (technologically, anyway). The contrast is striking to say the least. What’s the worst thing that happens? People get Internet access; homeless folks get donations without begging; and everyone walks away feeling good.

It seems like a knee-jerk reaction to call this an outrage and ignore the underlying issue of creating a tech-savvy way to get those who are “haves” to help those who are “have nots.”

Why I am not going to SXSW

First of all they need to rename the Interactive portion of SXSW to Waste of Time. What I expected from SXSW was a social experience where you met a lot of people, network and get a lot out of the conference tracks. The conference tracks last year where 50% pitch, 25% the person had no clue and 25% awesome. The evening events for the most part are so loud that if you want to talk to someone you have to yell, terrible food and bottom shelf liquor. Meeting new people is ok sp long as you self initiate a 100% of the time, 90% of the time people had their heads buried in their phones and laptops not a lot of interaction. Be prepared for a lot of looks of why are you invading my space.

If your going to cover CES as press, here is my suggestion, bring your DSLR that can record video and interview some of the upper echelon celebrities that go, do not focus on vendors or many of the unknown session speakers. You should be prepared to deal with attendees that are rude, and interrupt interviews just so they can say hello to someone they admire. The best press thing I attended was a SXSW sponsored 10 minute pitch session where 6 vendors pitched the press for 10 minutes each.

They had an exhibitor area at the show, which I was able to walk through it in about 30 minutes. From that walk through I think I stopped to talk to one company, who today is not even on the radar map. Everyone says it is the place to be, well everyone else can go, and I will read the self centered blog posts from the comfort of warm and sunny Honolulu.

My experience with SXSW last year was not worth the money spent. SXSW is very expensive from a attendee standpoint, and hotel accommodations are simply grossly too expensive as compared to standard Austin pricing. Does SXSW have some good points, sure, but overall my experience in attending the interactive portion sucked.

Getting Pitched in Sessions at SXSW

Just a few minutes ago, I left my third session in 2 days because the speakers were pitching their companies. SXSW better get a handle on this! I have spoke at a number of conferences over the past 5 years and have been very careful to never pitch my companies products, during what is supposed to be educational sessions. Pisses me off big time that I could have attended another session of which there are many competing for people’s attention. He SXSW get a handle on your speakers and BAN them if they do this from ever participating in SXSW again!

Mark Cuban and Boxee’s Avner Ronen Battle at SXSW

Yesterday in the last session of the day at SXSW Mark Cuban and Avner Ronen had what I consider to be one of the better debates of the show so far. While it was a bit over the top and some ego’s in play, both made great points about the future of how we are going to be consuming media from traditional broadcast sources. Mark contends that the web in it’s current state cannot support large segment of subscribers getting there HD content via an IP connection which is probably true. Avner contends that the younger generation wants their traditional content via Internet.

From Mark’s comments it is obvious that the only way he would make HDNet available on the net is by guaranteeing 500,000 subscribers a month and the entity would have to pay base card rates for the right to get the content aka $2.00 to $3.00 per subscriber.

Mark feels the Ala Carte model will never scale and doubtful that companies like ESPN would make their programming available anytime soon to companies that would like to make it available to consumers on the net.

I will have a much more detailed commentary and sound bites on my next podcast because the breadth of the conversation was pretty wide.