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The End of SXSW as We Know It?

Startups

The End of SXSW as We Know It? image sxsw 2012 convention crowd1

For me, there are two MUST go-to events in the digital marketing space — Social Slam (naturally) and SXSW.

If Social Slam is friendly, inexpensive and accessible, Austin’s SXSW Festival is its alter-ego! But SXSW is also unparalleled in its showcase of cutting edge content and ideas, its potential for networking with every high flyer in the business, and the diversity of its content.

It is also a painful experience. SXSW is frightfully expensive to attend. The venues are so spread out across the city of Austin that you cannot hope to see a fraction of what you want to see. But most of all, SXSW is CROWDED.

To anyone visiting this event, it’s apparent that SXSW has FAR outgrown the city of Austin’s ability to handle it. The hotel rooms are sold out six months in advance. The convention center corridors are so jammed you can hardly move, let alone find a quiet place to talk. And the sessions are so packed you can’t even attend most of the popular keynotes. Many people sit on the floor and watch popular speeches on TV monitors. Pretty ridiculous.

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So it’s not entirely surprising that the event appears to be easing out of Austin for the ultimate convention site — Las Vegas. Here is the announcement from yesterday:

Announcing SXSW V2V!

We are excited to announce SXSW V2V, the newest addition to the SXSW family of events. SXSW V2V is an extension and re-imagining of the 26-year-old Austin event with an emphasis on the creative spark that drives entrepreneurial innovation.

The startup and venture capital space is of major interest to all the creative industries that are at the core of the SXSW family of events. SXSW V2V features four days of informative panels and workshops, inspirational speakers, intensive mentor and coaching programs, networking events and receptions, pitch competitions and startup showcases. This new event will offer an intimate environment for innovators and entrepreneurs across all creative industries learn the skills, make the connections and find the inspiration to take their ideas and talents to the next level. If you are involved in building an app, a service, a business, a brand or a community, then this event is for you.

Join us for this excitement-packed, four-day event Sunday August 11, 2013 through Wednesday August 14, 2013 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.

SXSW is commonly referred to as the “World Series of Start-ups.” Is that title now moving to a new Las Vegas event?

I think much of the appeal of SXSW is the electricity driven by the start-up community. Going to SXSW without the start-ups will be like eating cake without the icing. If SXSW migrates the start-up frenzy to a new Las Vegas event the Austin conference will lose its soul. Bootstrapping entrepreneurs are going to have to place a bet because they more than likely will not be able to attend two different (and expensive) events to try to get attention.

It’s not entirely a surprise that SXSW is snapping its funky Austin roots but it makes me wonder if the entire conference is imploding from its success like a star that grows so large that it starts collapsing on itself.

Mark Schaefer is an educator and marketing consultant specializing in social media workshops. He blogs at {grow} and is the author of several best-selling marketing books including Return On Influence.

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