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SXSW Sessions You Don’t Want to Miss

SXSW - Sessions

If you’re attending SXSW Interactive, the mega-festival that takes place from March 8-12, you’ll have over 1,000 sessions to choose from (not to mention the parties). We scoured through them to find the 15 sessions you don’t want to miss.

Keynotes

Elon Musk

SXSW - Sessions Elon Musk

  • When: Saturday, March 9, 2-3 pm
  • Where: Exhibit Hall 5, Austin Convention Center
  • Why: Musk is the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, the first commercial company to bring cargo up to the International Space Station. Now, they’re working to build reusable, low-cost rockets that will revolutionize space travel. As if that weren’t enough, Musk is also the CEO of Tesla and the cofounder of PayPal.

Matthew Inman

SXSW - Sessions Matthew Inman

Featured Sessions

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq Goes Social: The Big Interview

  • When: March 11, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Where: Long Center, Dell Hall
  • Why: “Four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal gives his opinions on social media, startups, online comedy, as well as all things hoops in a revealing one-on-one interview with best-selling author Brian Solis.”

SXSW - Sessions Esther DysonEsther Dyson, Release 0.9

  • When: March 12, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Where: Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D
  • Why: “Esther Dyson always seems to get interested in things before they become popular.” This will be “an interactive discussion on what’s intriguing right now to this always-curious, always-challenging, angel investor. Her enthusiasms include space travel, the quantified self, and Russia.”

SXSW - Sessions Rachel Sklar

Change the Ratio: Conversations with Rachel Sklar

  • When: March 12, 3:30-4:30 pm
  • Where: Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D
  • Why: Sklar, founder of Change The Ratio, will be talking to tech leaders about diversity, meritocracy, and privilege in the tech industry.

SXSW - Sessions Daniel Ek

Forbes 30 Under 30: Meet Spotify’s Daniel Ek

  • When: March 12, 3:30-4:30 pm
  • Where: Long Center, Dell Hall
  • Why: As CEO and cofounder of Spotify, Ek has an insight or two about the way we listen to music and how that will change in the future.

SXSW - Sessions Peter ThielPeter Thiel: You Are Not a Lottery Ticket

  • When: March 12, 3:30-4:30 pm
  • Where: Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 5
  • Why: Thiel, partner of Founders Fund, will explain why succeeding at a startup is not a matter of luck. He’ll cover how to find “secret truths” and make the most of them.

Other Sessions

SXSW - Sessions Alexis Ohanian

Tales of US Entrepreneurship Beyond Silicon Valley

  • When: March 8, 3:30-4:30 pm
  • Where: Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 5
  • Why: Alexis Ohanian, cofounder of Reddit, will tell stories of entrepreneurship that he collected in the “American heartland” while on the Internet 2012 Bus Tour.

SXSW - Sessions Steve Blank

Steve Blank: Advice for Today’s Startup Entrepreneurs

  • When: March 9, 12:30-1:15 pm
  • Where: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon ABC
  • Why: Blank is a customer development expert who taught the “Lean LaunchPad” class at Stanford (now available online for free). His talk is part of a day of lean startup learnings with guests like Eric Ries, Dave McClure, and Travis Kalanick of Uber.

SXSW - Sessions Matt Mullenweg

Matt Mullenweg: The State of Blogging in 2013

  • When: March 9, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Where: Hyatt Regency Austin, Texas Ballroom 5-7
  • Why: Social media tools might make blogging seem obsolete. Mullenweg, the cofounder of WordPress, will discuss what blogging of the future will look like.

SXSW - Sessions David Sacks

Insights about Innovation: David Sacks Fireside Chat

  • When: March 9, 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Where: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon FGH
  • Why: Sacks was the COO of PayPal and the founder of Yammer, both acquired for over $1 billion. He will chat with Jason Calacanis, founder of the LAUNCH conference, about advice for startups and the future of Silicon Valley

SXSW - Sessions Brian Chesky

Airbnb’s Brian Chesky Talks with Fortune

  • When: March 10, 11 am-12 pm
  • Where: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon ABC
  • Why: Chesky, the cofounder and CEO of Airbnb, will talk about Airbnb and his challenges in scaling the company.

Ben Huh

Ben Huh: The Art of Making Fun of Yourself

  • When: March 11, 3:30-4:30 pm
  • Where: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon FGH
  • Why: Ben Huh is the CEO of the Cheezburger Network. This session will teach companies how to use the “humor bomb” to gain a strategic advantage.

From Tech Cocktail

Asian Entrepreneurs Struggle with Fear of Failure

  • When: March 11, 11 am-12 pm
  • Where: Austin Convention Center, Room 5ABC
  • Why: This panel discusses where fear of failure comes from, how it affects Asian startups today, and what it means for the future of Asian innovation – including the ability to compete globally.

Not All Startup Accelerators Are Created Equal

  • When: March 12, 11 am-12 pm
  • Where: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon C
  • Why: Learn about the landscape of startup accelerators and how to choose the best one for you.
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About the Author

Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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