Another round of insanity at SXSW draws to a close, so I thought I’d jot down my top takeaways:
1. Compared to last year health, self-tracking and big data were huge topics, cropping up everywhere. I’ll admit, I was more tuned into these topics because our client Basis was at South By in force with two panels, interviews and demo locations. I got into a “friendly” contest with Wired snr. editor, Michael Copeland, comparing how many steps we took each day. The winner has yet to be declared. I walked about 18 miles in three days. Exhausting!
2. Hacking is now perceived to be a good thing. Topics abound from hacking online dating to hacking your body, as well as the more traditional hackathons which are true to SXSWi’s roots.
3. Over-subscription of hot panels continues with a 300-yard line for the BBC’s Science of Storytelling panel; no overflow room for Al Gore’s keynote and people trying to listen from hallways to sold-out panels. C’mon SXSW – you can do better than this! (I do think they’re trying – they accurately predicted that Basis’ Designing Habits panel would be popular and asked them to do it twice, the second time in a much bigger space at the Convention Center).
4. There seems to be a ‘turning over’ of the audience that attends South By with less senior folks unless they are on panels, and many more mid-level managers who were here for the first time. The usual group of millennials – who get a crashpad on AirBnB and don’t buy a pass – is still there. Whether this means it’s still a place for deal-making vs. simply networking and partying, remains to be seen.
5. Notwithstanding #4, there’s a pretty vibrant pre-seed, seed-funded, startup presence, particularly if you hang out in the hallways of the Hilton where StartUp America had a big presence. I enjoyed hearing Slava Rubin, co-founder Indiegogo, Steve Case, and others, talk about the promise of equity crowdfunding and the impact it might have.
6. Maybe I wasn’t tuned in, but unlike previous years (Highlight last year, Twitter and Foursquare in the past) there was no “stand out” app or service and I still believe this isn’t a place to do a launch. In chatting with Rob Scoble yesterday he concurred and suggested companies launch their app the December prior to get a groundswell and iron out the kinks before being put them to potential breaking point at SXSW.
7. Checking out the 20 minute author talks (usually in Ballroom G) is a quick way to dive into a topic and hear the writer bring their subject to life. Andy Smith, The Dragonfly Effect, and Porter Gale, author of the soon-to-be published, Your Network Is Your Net Worth, were two favorites.
8. Finally, if you’re a company wondering whether SXSW is the place for you to invest marketing dollars, I still stand by what I wrote last year.
Originally published on BirdPR‘s blog.