Austin is an awesome city. People are nice. It is a metro area but I would not be surprised to see a tumble weed going down the streets either. If you are into tex-mex and BBQ the food is great. The drinks and the ambiance of the restaurants and bars is unique. There are a lot of companies moving to the Austin area as well and the business community is growing. Thanks to infrastructure, taxes and regulation.
I have only been once, I did not attend the conference. But I did get to meet with a lot of people. I am sure the panels are useful just not specific to my industry. Meeting people who you “know” online is always a bit strange. Ok more than a bit. There needs to be booze for many of the people to talk with. If any good comes from SXSW it will be that people in social media learn how to be social. Seriously it is a huge problem in this space. It is ran by people with limited social skills, but I digressed.
The highlight for me and the main reason I went was to watch This Week In Startups live. While I was there I met a bunch of people, many CEO’s and people at the forefront of technology. Embarrassingly I did not know who many of these people were till after but almost always respond to emails when I send them. I bought a round of shots for the people who were guests and VIP’s of the show. I wont incriminate any of them so you will have to watch the show (around 18:30). But there are some big names. I also got a copy of Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, book Delivering Happiness and invited on the “Happiness Bus”. I will end that story there as well.
In conclusion, I am sure that when I went in 2010 it was more pure. People were more open and it was a little less commercialized. Without a doubt there are people there who are “internet” famous and probably think they are better than others. But the atmosphere is really not conducive for that I think people can see through that. I also got to talk with a founder of a now defunct company that used something I did on their service in a TEDx talk. Overall it was a good experience and hopefully my schedule is clear for next year. Book early though, hotels run out fast.
This is oldie but a goodie from one of the best speakers, Gary Vaynerchuk.
PS the airport lines are sick, there is a second security line to the left, avoid the one on the right if at all possible.
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