SXSW: It's Still a Place of Wonder, and a Place to Launch Products

What Eight SXSW Veterans Say About the Festival

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Even if you wanted to avoid the tsunami of tweets, blog posts and old-fashioned journalism coming out of SXSW, could you? Over the past week we've been running into some old hands in Austin - here's what they told us about SXSW in 2013:

Ben Huh
Ben Huh

1. It's somehow less chaotic.
"SXSW this year has been a better curated, and a more intimate affair, even with the tens of thousands of attendees. Yes, it's still overwhelming, but it has been less chaotic than 2012. There are more consumer brands present, not in a research and biz dev capacity, but just trying to take advantage of the huge throng of geeks and high-net worth individuals."
- Ben Huh, CEO, Cheezburger Network

2. There are still new frontiers.
"I was completely delighted to see the departure from some of the usual themes this year in favor of things like space travel, which was surprisingly well-represented - even NASA had a presence. We're dreaming big and ready for a new challenge. It's very inspiring."
- Beth McCabe, VP-group director, social marketing and technology, Digitas

3. It's become a place to launch products.
"SXSWis turning into a great platform for launching consumer hardware. Following Nike's Fuelband launch last year, Leap Motion blew me away with their product experience."
- Ashwin Nathan, director-digital, Frito-Lay

4. Some of these products will transform society.
"How we design, measure, and use the data from wearable technology will be one of the most exciting areas of product design in the near future. We expect it to have a significant impact on everything from product design to public policy and public health."
- Conor Brady, global creative director, Huge

Conor Brady
Conor Brady

5. Even the truly jaded can have a "wow" moment.
For me, SXSW was about user interface innovation. FromGoogle Glass to The Leap Motion to Disney Touché we are going to be developing many new ways to have digital interaction with the physical world in the coming years.
- Dan Shust, VP of innovation, Resource

6. Social is being replaced by storytelling.
"After past years of social dominating the agenda, 2013 is all about what fuels it all: content. From storytelling to design, SXSWi provided urgency for marketers to become better publishers or be left behind."
- Dave Marsey, exec VP, managing director, Digitas San Francisco

7. Get ready for "intelligent objects."
"Technology is getting embedded into everything--from our glasses to our shirts to our shoes to our appliances to our cars. We saw some examples of this on the trade show floor. With the Google Glass project and competitive 'smart' eyewear hitting the market in the near future, people are enamored with the possibilities of wearable technologies to augment, enhance and navigate the world around us."
- Ann Mack, director of trendspotting, JWT

8. It's not about "winning" SXSW.
"I'm continually impressed by SXSW's ability to retain a sense of serendipity and familiarity - as much as the festival has grown in the last few years, it's still remarkably easy to run into old friends and make new ones. I can't point to a single major breakout or launch that won SXSW, but I also think we may have mistaken the launch of Twitter and Foursquare in years past as being a phenomenon to expect every year."
-Anand Chopra-McGowan, business development, General Assembly

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