Motley Thoughts from SXSW 2013

Sunday, March 10, 2013

By Adam Kleinberg

SXSW may be known as a launch-pad for startups like Twitter and Foursquare, but like anything that grows big, it has evolved.

Just this morning, a Austin newspaper ran a story on how start-ups are having a difficult time launching here.

That may be the case, but SXSW still remains one-of-a-kind and I continue to come year after year. Here are a few thoughts on why.


You could do absolutely nothing but sit around the blogger lounge at SXSW for four days and this event could be worth your while. It's literally a parade of the most influential people in technology, marketing and media traipsing through for free coffee, chicken wings and schmoozing. In a 10 minute period, I ran into authors reporter Bob Garfield, Steve Hall from Ad Rants, Ekaterina Walter from Intel (whose new book "Think Like Zuck" is awesome) and Brian Solis from Altimeter Group. Friday night I wound up drinking with the CEO of Klout (and giving him a drunken lecture about his product). Add in a few hours at the bar at the Four Seasons where I saw Walt Mossberg from the WSJ, Kara Swisher from AllThingsD, Mike Shields from AdWeek, Beth Comstock from GE, and Ashley Brown, the head of digital at Coke.

You simply don't get this kind of networking anywhere else—and that includes CES.


I had meetings all day long to talk about doing business with brands. Friends of mine who run start-ups had meetings all day to talk about doing business with brands. People are here. If you spend the time arranging your itinerary ahead of time, you can be incredible productive here. It looks like Traction is going to have two new clients in the coming months based on meetings I had today.


I have to be honest—I think the content here is hit or miss. I've only seen one session here so far (which was Walt Mossberg interviewing Al Gore), but I walked away inspired—and I always do. Al Gore spoke about 6 major shifts that are changing the world. One of them was an over-reliance on growth as a metric for countries, corporations. Is growth the right metric for success? Simple question, but one that's very meaningful.

Food trucks.

Try as we might, San Francisco has nothing on Austin when it comes to food trucks. They are everywhere and awesome. I'm leaving this blog post to go hit one on South Congress Ave now.

About the author
Adam Kleinberg

Adam Kleinberg is CEO and founding partner of Traction. He has written over 75 articles in publications like to AdAge, Adweek, Fast Company, Forbes, Mashable and Digiday.

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