Wednesday, March 13, 2013

SXSW: Shaking Hands and Taking Names

Despite the finest efforts of a New York weather system, I was able to escape the cold and upgrade myself to hot Texas rain. For those wondering why I haven't blogged about "Girls" recently, SXSW Interactive is directly responsible for my radio silence. For this I am sorry - but not really. 

Many of the big name bloggers in the tech world have - beforehand, during and after - SXSWi indicated that Austin's crown jewel may have jumped the shark. With the festival proving to have appeal that extends well beyond the core constituency of nerdy guys that are responsible for fueling the event's growth, I can understand why the purists might feel a bit troubled. But these things happen (see Coachella). Yet, I reckon you'd be hard pressed to find someone that suggests that all of the distractions have wiped away all of the underlying professional value associated with the festival's tech-focused arm. 

There is so much deep commentary that could be provided on the weekend. Especially from a social standpoint. From Dirty 6th down to the sheer number of women that attended a "geek fest", I was often confused and enthralled by the chaotic scene. Nevertheless - a few things stood out as being especially awesome on my radar:
  • The pricey awesomeness that made itself available to us in the form of the SternHouse @ SXSW. 
  • The endless supply of tacos available in Austin. 
  • Saying "I'm a VC intern" and watching entrepreneurs immediately hop into "Pitch Mode"...
  • Then watching how quickly they jump out of "Pitch Mode" and into "let's get drunk / talk about life mode" after realizing that I was just a boy and that boys just wanna have fun at SXSW.
  • The awesome vibe that was The Fast Company Grill while providing a much-needed supply of tasty cocktails and nicely chilled Starbucks caffeinated beverages. 
  • Watching Girl Talk absolutely kill it at Nat Geo's 80s party. 
  • Running into old friends and making new friends. 
  • Attending an absurdly swank and inspirational party honoring Forbes 30-under-30 at the home of the founder of Paul Mitchell / Patron. 
  • And, oh yeah...attending some amazing panels highlighting the future of the digital world. 
The SXSW scene surely isn't for the faint of heart. If you can't handle going from watching Alexis Ohanian discuss the importance of internet activism to eating awesome food that you can't believe is free to attending Yahoo!'s screening of a raunchy puppet movie to taking shots with entrepreneurs your read about on the interwebs, the event probably isn't for you. And more importantly, if you can't resist the free and readily available vices long enough to build meaningful connections, a trip to Austin for SXSWi probably isn't going to do you much good. 

But if you're got will power, a love of tacos and a love of tech, I trust that you'll have a phenomenal time at SXSW. It made me a believer. 

Hope to see some of y'all there next year! 

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