Originally conceived as a music festival, the first South By Southwest was held in Austin, Texas, in March 1987. Event organisers expected 150 attendees, a figure which ballooned to 700 on opening day. Over the years, the event has developed into a “conglomeration of film, interactive media, music festivals and conferences”, and these days attracts around 300,000 attendees.
Technology became a feature of the event in 1994, when SXSW added a component for film and multimedia. In 1999, the multimedia component of the event was renamed ‘SXSW Interactive’, setting the stage for tech becoming an integral part of the event. 2011 was the first year that the interactive festival's attendance surpassed that of the music festival.
"SXSW is the best conference I have ever attended. It helped me be the professional that I wanted to be."
Today, South by Southwest – abbreviated to SXSW and colloquially known as ‘South By’ – is a premier destination for creatives and tech innovators from around the globe.
This year, the famed celebration of tech, film, and music is expanding beyond North American soil for the first time in its history, with a spin-off event in Australia. SXSW Sydney will be held in the harbourside city for seven days and nights, from October 15 to 22. And we will be sending a sizable contingent of our team along to experience it.
According to SXSW Sydney Managing Director Colin Daniels, the Sydney event is “the first of what will be a vibrant annual event for the harbour city”.
Billed as an extension of the Austin event, SXSW Sydney will deliver a program that ‘honours the original spirit while bringing Sydney’s own unique flair’. Sydney’s position as a ‘gateway to Asia-Pacific’ was a strong factor in its selection to host the event.
"The purpose of SXSW is to help creative people achieve their goals, and Sydney is the ideal city to serve as a home for the cross-collaboration that exists within the many industries we bring together," said Roland Swenson, CEO & Co-founder of SXSW.
Helping our team make digital bright
Luminary’s guiding mission is to ‘make digital bright and the human experience brighter’. Central to that mission is ensuring that our team is on the forefront of innovations in technology – which is exactly what SXSW is about.
I’ve been attending tech conferences since Luminary began back in 1999 and SXSW is the one that I keep coming back to. It’s one of the biggest tech events in the world, and certainly the best one I’ve experienced. In terms of being a showcase for emerging technologies and innovation, it is unparalleled. SXSW has attracted some of the world’s most inspired thinkers and creatives over the years and it’s well-established as a breeding ground for tech heavyweights. Our team will have the opportunity to hear from over 700 speakers in over 400 sessions.
When we heard that it was coming to Sydney, it just made complete sense for us to send our team. We have a commitment to our clients to stay ahead of the curve with new technology and attending SXSW is a great way to do that. Thrilled to say that around 35 of our team members from across Australia and Indonesia will be attending SXSW Sydney for the six-day festival. There are even former Luminary team members presenting in partnership with client and charity partner, UNICEF.
It’s also a great way to give back to our team members and say thanks for choosing to work at Luminary. We have a lot of bright digital minds among our team, and we don’t take it lightly that they choose to work with us. It’s our responsibility to ensure they have what they need to be at the leading edge of digital and to feel fulfilled in their roles. This, in turn, means they can continue to support our clients and be the trusted advisors that our clients have come to rely on.
Will we be seeing you there?
We’re obviously keen to share our learnings with our wider network but we’d also love to see lots of you there, too! If you’re thinking about going, feel free to reach out to me, Adam, Andy or Liam – we’ve all been to SXSW in Austin and we’re more than happy to share our experiences with you. We’re also looking to host an event in Sydney while we’re there – so watch this space for further information about that as well!
Some fun facts about SXSW
- The name South By Southwest was a twist on the name of the Alfred Hitchcock film North by Northwest.
- Twitter only started gaining momentum after being featured at SXSW's Interactive conference in 2007.
- Foursquare made its debut at SXSW Interactive in 2009.
- The keynote talk for the 2013 SXSW Interactive was given by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
- Also in 2013, President Barack Obama gave a speech at SXSW Interactive where he called on the technology industry to help solve problems such as helping balance security and privacy.
Want to connect with some of the world’s leading thinkers, innovators and creators in tech? Join us at SXSW.Register now
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