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SXSW 2015 Wrap Up

It’s bitter, sweet to leave Austin and return to my normal activities and work. South by is a party that strikes a balance between your work life and having fun while in Austin, Texas. Thousands of technology companies, and their employees descend to SXSW to listen to very smart people talk, network with peers, and have brands offer free beer and food. While I said in yesterday’s post there wasn’t a breakout app, more people have chimed in and have made great arguments on how Meerkat wouldn’t be where it is without South By. Mashable held a Meerkat meetup, where fellow Meerkat users came together to tweet live video from Austin. After the event some interactive participants started Meerkating panels, parties, and brand lounges. I still feel like it’s not a true breakout SXSW app, but it some areas without this event it still would be ill-relevant.

We have a breakout app, but we don’t have a breakout brand. McDonald’s tried to create good will by having a lounge where SXSW goers could relax, listen to cool bands, and eat some fast food for free. They messed up by at first not paying these small indie bands to play on their stage, when their company makes millions annually. Mazda provided free rides around downtown, however it was hard to find one of the cars to catch a ride in. Samsung showed off 4K TV’s, VR headsets, and had employee’s walking around with the Galaxy S6. Lyft gave discounts on rides, but it was almost easier to walk because of all the Austin traffic. There are dozens more that I’m surely forgetting, but it highlights how free food and free shirts don’t buy loyalty right away.

The panels this year included talks with Lyft CEO, the FCC, the Yik Yak’s founders, Buzzfeed’s CEO, and other notable people in the technology world. The Yik Yak talk gave us a rare look into the two young founders who try to stray away from the tech press, and mostly grant interviews to college students. Buzzfeed’s CEO talked about how the company operates and what it wants to do in the coming years. The FCC talked on net neutrality with a lot of emphasis on dispelling rumors around open broadband and internet. Lyft’s CEO touched on transportation of the future, on how self driving cars will radically change the transportation industry.

SXSW Film and Music will continue for the rest of the week, but the tech crowd will migrate back home. SXSW is always my favorite event of the year, but after its said and done I’m glad it’s over. Having someone always wanting you to plug them on social media and constantly have startups pitch you their ideas is draining and becomes annoying.

In the comments below tell us if you think Meerkat is the breakout app of SXSW 2015 or if it just happened to go viral at the same time as the event.