South by Southwest (abbreviated as SXSW and referred to as South By) is an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas, United States.
It began in 1987, and thanks to founders Roland Swenson, Louis Jay Meyers, Louis Black, and Nick Barbaro, SXSW has continued to grow in both scope and size every year. In 2017, the conference lasted for 10 days with SXSW Interactive lasting for five days, music for seven days and film running concurrently for nine days. Comedy and gaming components to the festival are particularly fast-growing.
SXSW Interactive is focused on emerging technology, a focus which has earned thr.e festival a reputation as a breeding ground for new ideas and creative technologies. The festival includes a trade show, speakers, parties, and a startup accelerator. According to a festival organizer Louis Black, SXSW Interactive “has probably been the biggest of its kind in the world” since 2007.1
In addition to the three main South by Southwest festivals, the company runs other conferences: SXSW EDU, a conference on educational innovation, held in Austin, and (beginning in 2017) the me Convention, held in Frankfurt, Germany, in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz. Former conferences run by the SXSW organization were SXSW Eco, an environmental conference held in Austin from 2011-2016; and one in Las Vegas: SXSW V2V, a conference focused on innovative startups which ran from 2013 to 2015.
SXSW is the highest revenue-producing event (outside of athletic and other events associated with the University of Texas) for the Austin economy, with an estimated economic impact of $325 million in 2016.3