AUSTIN (KXAN) — Social media is buzzing as South By Southwest officially kicked off Friday. The Music, Film and Interactive Festival was trending on Twitter as people made their way from all over the world to the state capital.
More than 30,000 people registered for the 21st interactive festival. With so many creative people in town, there will be new ideas, jobs and partnerships created through the weekend.
“I’m looking for other developers, share ideas, and see what kind of cool innovation is going on here,” said Daniel Rivers, a developer from Wichita, Kan. “There’s a lot of energy here. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in all of it.”
Companies like Mutual Mobile, which is based in Austin, got a big boost. One of the founders, John Arrow, said they didn’t know what to expect from SXSW five years ago when its company only had 10 employees and let serendipity take its course.
“We ended up running into Garrett Camp at Mowhawk, at an unofficial SXSW party,” Arrow said. Camp is the founder of Uber and Stumbleupon. “We struck up a conversation, said, ‘Hey we’re building these mobile solutions, we think the iPad is going to be really big, you should have an iPad app,’ and he said, ‘you know what, let me buy you a drink, and I think you’re right.”
It’s the same story many people tell when they come to the big conference in Austin.
SXSW Interactive has changed a lot in the past 20 years. For example, it’s grown from a small regional event to one of the biggest tech events in the world. Last year 57 different countries were represented. This year, there’s 74.
Interactive festival director Hugh Forrest expects those numbers to grow as Austin-Bergstrom International Airport continues to add international flights.
He also expects there to be a lot of new things this year, like wearable computing. Last year Google Glass made a splash. Forrest expect there to be the next generation of wearable watches, and wearable clothes that have sensors that identify a persons doctor if they have health problems.
Another big topic this year will be security.
“Surveillance, privacy, security breaches, these are big issues to our crowd and big issues of the future of the internet,” said Forrest.
Last year organizers said the big convention pumped in more than $218 million to the local economy.