Meet the Featured Speakers at SXSW 2018

If you’ve never been to South by Southwest (SXSW), you’re missing out. Between the cornucopia of live music, the dozens of celebrities walking the streets of Austin, and the lively atmosphere of a city in the depths of one of the most popular experiences in the world, it’s enough to make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.

To make matters even more exciting, TechCo has been involved with SXSW for nearly a decade, most notably through our eventful Startup Night pitch competition. Last year, we awarded a few innovative companies with cash prizes and bragging rights as the startups of SXSW!

While the event is easily considered one of the most fun events in the country, the educational value of the featured speakers is simply unmatched. Every year, SXSW 2018 will be host to a bevy of innovative founders, engaging influencers, and charming personalities that you will not want to miss.

This year, the lineup is no different. If you’re wondering who will be imparting wisdom at SXSW 2018, take a look at the full list below, courtesy of the SXSW website.

Luvvie Ajayi (Social Impact)

Luvvie Ajayi, the New York Timesbest-selling author of I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual, is a speaker and digital strategist who thrives at the intersection of comedy, technology and activism. A fourteen-year blogging veteran, she is the voice behind Awesomely Luvvie, a widely-respected humor blog that covers everything pop culture – from TV, movies, and technology to travel, race, and life’s random adventures.

Christiane Amanpour (News & Journalism)

Christiane Amanpour is CNN’s chief international correspondent and anchor of the network’s award-winning, flagship global affairs program Amanpour. She is based in the network’s London bureau. Amanpour’s fearless and uncompromising approach has made her popular with audiences, and a force to be reckoned with by global influencers.

Dave Asprey (Health & Wellness

Dave Asprey is the founder and CEO of Bulletproof 360, a high-performance coffee and food company, and creator of the widely popular Bulletproof Coffee. He is a two-time New York Times bestselling author, host of the Webby award-winning podcast Bulletproof Radio, and has been featured on the Today Show, Fox News, Nightline, CNN, and dozens more.

W. Kamau Bell (Social Impact)

W. Kamau Bell is a sociopolitical comedian based in The People’s Republic of Berkeley, Calif. Bell is the host of the Emmy Award-winning CNN Original Series United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell. The series also received an Emmy and a Television Critics Association Award nomination in its first season. The third season of United Shades will premiere in 2018 on CNN.

Brian Behlendorf (Startup & Tech Sectors)

Brian Behlendorf is the Executive Director of Hyperledger, an open source blockchain project at the Linux Foundation. Behlendorf was a primary developer of the Apache Web server, the most popular web server software on the Internet, and a founding member of the Apache Software Foundation. He has also served on the board of the Mozilla Foundation since 2003 and the Electronic Frontier Foundation since 2013. Behlendorf was the founding CTO of CollabNet and CTO of the World Economic Forum. Most recently, Behlendorf was a managing director at Mithril Capital Management LLC, a global technology investment firm.

Stefan Blom with Josh Constine (Sync, Stream & License)

Stefan Blom is Chief Content Officer at Spotify. In his role as CCO he has responsibility for the company’s content and distribution operations, including all licensing, programming, studios & original content, industry & creators relationships and products globally. Prior to his role at Spotify, Mr. Blom held senior positions at EMI Music, most recently as CEO and Chairman of the group’s Nordic operations, and prior to that as EVP Commercial Development in a global capacity.

Josh Constine is the Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch where he specializes in deep analysis of social products.

Sandy Carter (Startup & Tech Sectors

Sandy Carter is an Amazon Web Services VP focused on Enterprise Workloads and helping companies with innovation. A leading pioneer in the digital business revolution, Sandy was a driving force of Innovation at IBM for the last decade. She is an extreme innovator and bestselling author with her 5th book Extreme Innovation, built on her research with Carnegie Mellon.

Jocelyn Conn, Akash Goyal, Ramin Hedayati, Hasan Minhaj, and Matt Negrin (Featured Session | News & Journalism

Jocelyn Conn is the Senior Coordinating Producer for The Daily Show. Akash Goyal is the Vice President of Multiplatform Content Strategy at Comedy Central. Ramin Hedayati is the Supervising Producer and oversees Digital Expansion at The Daily Show.

Hasan Minhaj is a Daily Show Correspondent, and a comedian, actor and writer in New York. Matt Negrin works on The Daily Show‘s Digital Expansion team and social media channels.

Ana Marie Cox and Bree Newsome (Social Impact

Ana Marie Cox is a political columnist and culture critic. She conducts the “Talk” interviews featured in The New York Times Magazine. She also hosts With Friends Like These, a podcast from Crooked Media.

Bree Newsome is a community organizer and activist who removed the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina State House. Newsome rallies the spirit with her impassioned message about racial equality and illustrates how, with courage, zeal and the support of others, ordinary people can make an extraordinary difference.

Mark Cuban (Startup & Tech Sectors

Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban is an American businessman, investor, author, television personality, and philanthropist. Cuban is the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, chairman and CEO of AXS tv, one of ABC’s “Sharks” on the hit show Shark Tank, and an investor in an ever-growing portfolio of businesses.

Jeff Fager and Charlie Rose (News & Journalism

Jeff Fager is the Executive Producer of 60 Minutes, now entering its 50th season, the most-watched news program in America.

Charlie Rose is the co-host of CBS This Morning and contributing correspondent to 60 Minutes. Rose continues to serve as executive editor and host of “Charlie Rose,” which appears nightly on PBS.

Audrey Gelman (Workplace)

Audrey Gelman is co-founder and CEO of The Wing, a company that builds co-working and community spaces for women. Prior to founding The Wing, Gelman worked in politics and public affairs in New York and Washington D.C.

Daniel Glass (Music Industry

Daniel Glass is Founder/President of Glassnote Entertainment Group, a full service independent music company that began in 2007. Glassnote Entertainment Group includes Glassnote Records, Insieme Music Publishing, Present Artist Management, and Resolved Records.

Ira Glass (News & Journalism)

Ira Glass is the host and creator of the radio program and podcast This American Life. The show is heard each week by over 2.2 million listeners on more than 500 public radio stations in the United States, Australia and Canada, with another 2.5 million listening to the podcast. Under Glass’s editorial direction, This American Life has won the highest honors for broadcasting and journalistic excellence, including five Peabody awards.

Kirsten Green (Startup & Tech Sectors

Kirsten Green used a unique and unconventional blend of professional history and acquired investment experience to launch San Francisco-based Forerunner Ventures in 2010, where she currently serves as Founder and Managing Director. Noticing that emerging purchasing processes were linear and ripe for improvement, Green developed a pacesetter mentality and analytical eye to remain ahead of experience-driven retail trends and identify compelling brand platforms and visionary entrepreneurs.

Kristina Halvorson (Brands & Marketing)

Kristina Halvorson is the CEO and founder of Brain Traffic, a content strategy consultancy; the founder of Confab Events, a content strategy conference series; and the author of Content Strategy for the Web. Halvorson is an expert in creating content strategies that fuel exceptional customer experience.

Dan Harris (Workplace

Dan Harris is the co-anchor of ABC’s Nightline and the weekend editions of Good Morning America. Harris wrote a book about his journey into meditation, 10% Happier, which became #1 on the New York Times best-seller list. His success led to his creation of a meditation app and the 10% Happier podcast.

Tristan Harris (Design)

Tristan Harris was previously a Design Ethicist at Google and left to lead Time Well Spent, a non-profit movement to align technology with our humanity. Time Well Spent aims to transform the race for attention by revealing how technology steers two billion people’s thoughts and choices, and by demonstrating how new incentives and design practices can transform our technology environment to align with our best interests. Harris has spent a decade researching what influences our minds, drawing on insights from sleight.

Hugh HerrAimee Mullins, and Professor Hans Georg Näder (Intelligent Future)

Time Magazine coined Dr. Hugh Herr the ‘Leader of the Bionic Age’ because of his revolutionary work in the emerging field of Biomechatronics – technology that marries human physiology with electromechanics.

Athlete and model Aimee Mullins became the first amputee in history to compete in the NCAA and was the first person ever to be outfitted with woven carbon fiber sprinting prostheses. She then went on to set World Records in the 100 meter, the 200 meter, and the long jump and has since built a career in film and television.

Hans Georg Näder heads the world’s largest prosthetic and orthotic manufacturers dedicated to help people regain their mobility. A third-generation family-owned business, Ottobock and has worked with the Paralympics since 1988, producing hockey sledges and custom prosthetics for skiers, snowboarders, and sprinters.

Ryan Holiday and Peter Thiel (News & Journalism

Ryan Holiday is the best-selling author of Trust Me, I’m LyingThe Obstacle Is the WayEgo Is the Enemy; and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His upcoming book Conspiracywill be released on March 6, 2018.

Peter Thiel Y Combinator

Peter Thiel is an entrepreneur and investor. He started PayPal in 1998, led it as CEO, and took it public in 2002, defining a new era of fast and secure online commerce. In 2004, Thiel launched Palantir Technologies, a software company that harnesses computers to empower human analysts in fields like national security and global finance.

Steve Huffman with Christine Lagorio-Chafkin (Startup & Tech Sectors)

Steve Huffman is CEO and co-founder of Reddit, a social news site and the home of conversation online. At 22, Steve co-founded Reddit with college roommate, Alexis Ohanian.

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is the senior writer at Inc. whose work has also appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and more.

Walter Isaacson (Startup & Tech Sectors

Walter Isaacson, University Professor of History at Tulane, has been CEO of the Aspen Institute, chairman of CNN, and editor of Time Magazine. He is the author of Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Einstein: His Life and UniverseBenjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography. Isaacson is also the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made.

Dean Kamen (Startup & Tech Sectors

Dean Kamen is the founder of DEKA Research & Development and FIRST® and has contributed to society through his prolific inventions and innovative contributions. Kamen’s newest mission, as Chairman and Executive Director of the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), is ushering in a new era of regenerative medicine and creating a manufacturing industry for human tissue and organs that will benefit the health of millions.

Guy Kawasaki and Symone Sanders (Government)


Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. He is a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz and an executive fellow of the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley).

Symone D. Sanders is a strategist who rose to prominence during her tenure as the national press secretary for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

Ezra Klein (Government

Ezra Klein is the editor-at-large and co-founder of Vox, the news brand from Vox Media known for explaining the news and going deeper into the stories that define the world today. Klein focuses on writing, reporting, and podcasting, and offers creative guidance to Vox’s Emmy-nominated video programming.

Savan Kotecha (Music Industry)

Savan Kotecha is a Golden Globe and Grammy nominated songwriter. Kotecha has been the recipient of 9 BMI Awards, and 15 ASCAP awards. His songs have achieved number-one status all over the world with artists such as The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, One Direction, Usher, Maroon 5, Katy Perry, Ellie Goulding, and many more.

Dr. Fei-Fei Li with Joanne Chen (Intelligent Future

Dr. Fei-Fei Li is the Chief Scientist of Google Cloud, AI/ML. Li continues to hold her position at Stanford University as an Associate Professor in the Computer Science Department, and as the Director of the Stanford AI Lab and the Stanford Vision Lab.

Joanne Chen is a partner at Foundation Capital where she works with passionate entrepreneurs who leverage data assets to disrupt business functions.

Yiying Lu (Design)

Yiying Lu was born in Shanghai China, Educated in Sydney Australia & London UK, now based in San Francisco Silicon Valley as a Creative Director. She is an award-winning artist and designer with more than 10 years of experience in the creative realm. Lu was named a “Top 10 Emerging Leader in Innovation” in the Microsoft Next 100 series.

Joseph Lubin with Laura Shin (Intelligent Future

Joseph Lubin is co-founder of blockchain platform Ethereum, a decentralized application platform incorporating a virtual machine that executes peer-to-peer contracts paid for via micro-payments of the cryptocurrency ether.

Laura Shin is a Forbes senior editor managing crypto and blockchain technology coverage. Shin is also the host of the Unchained: Big Ideas From The Worlds Of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Podcast.

David Marcus (Intelligent Future)

David Marcus is the Vice President of Messaging Products at Facebook responsible for Messenger, which is used by hundreds of millions of people around the world daily. Marcus joined Facebook in 2014 from PayPal where he spent the previous two years as the company’s President and previously as Vice President of Mobile, leading its mobile products and business.

Dylan Marron (Social Impact)

Dylan Marron is a writer, performer, and videomaker whose work blends social activism and entertainment. He voices Carlos on Welcome to Night Valeand created Every Single Word, a video series that edits down popular films to only feature the words spoken by people of color. Dylan creates, hosts, and produces interview shows like Sitting in Bathrooms with Trans People and Shutting Down Bullsht*, as well as his signature Unboxing series. In his critically-acclaimed podcast Conversations with People Who Hate Me, Marron calls up folks who have said negative or hateful things about him on the internet.

Bruce Mau (Design)

Bruce Mau is a brilliantly creative optimist whose love of thorny problems led him to create a methodology for whole system transformation. Twenty-five years in the business of design gave Mau the practical, holistic insights for going into the design of business with his Massive Change Network five years ago. In doing so he laid the foundation for the new discipline of enterprise design, successfully applying his design thinking methodology to economic, cultural, governmental, environmental and social change.

Loic Le Meur, Adam Cheyer, Daphne Koller, and Nell Watson (Intelligent Future)

This group of extraordinary leaders and AI experts will discuss and debate the burning questions around AI. Do we need to fear the rapid progress in AI? Does AI replace humans or augment us, and is now the right time to be worrying about ethics, or is it still too early? They’ll examine where AI is being practically applied in industry now, along with the “unexpected” applications. Looking to get into the mix? Hear how to start an AI company and why it is a good idea. What’s next? Learn how biology and medicine are a big AI frontier and more.

Ted Leo and Money Mark with Molly Neuman (Music Industry

The challenges and opportunities in the music business are well documented and discussed. Who are the real leaders taking risks and forging new models of business and careers? How can we have a healthier ecosystem for all? Artists are on the front lines with their fans and community making the case for their careers and offering new ways of running their businesses to positive effect for us all.

Matthew Libatique and Snehal Patel (Making Film & Episodics

Matthew Libatique is a cinematographer best known for his work on Black SwanIron ManThe FountainMother!, and Requiem for a Dream. Libatique was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work on Black Swan, for which he won his second Independent Spirit Award.

Snehal Patel is a filmmaker, technologist, and instructor with over twenty years of experience filming video and film.

Miguel McKelvey (Workplace)

Miguel McKelvey is the Co-founder and Chief Culture Officer of WeWork, a platform for creators that helps people make a life, not just a living. McKelvey oversees diverse initiatives across the company, ensuring that WeWork’s foundational values are infused into all aspects of the company’s culture, design, products, and operations.

Tim O’Reilly (Startup & Tech Sectors

Tim O’Reilly is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, Inc. O’Reilly Media delivers online learning, publishes books, runs conferences, urges companies to create more value than they capture, and tries to change the world by spreading and amplifying the knowledge of innovators.

Daniel H. Pink (Workplace

Daniel H. Pink is the author of several books about management, work and behavioral science, including The New York Times bestsellers DriveTo Sell is Human, and A Whole New Mind. His books have won multiple awards and have been translated into 35 languages.

Steven Pinker (Intelligent Future)

Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist and one of the world’s foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature. Currently the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, Pinker has also taught at Stanford and MIT. His upcoming book is entitled Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.

Bob Richards (Intelligent Future

Bob Richards is a space entrepreneur and futurist. He is a Co-Founder of the International Space University, Singularity University, SEDS, the Space Generation Foundation, and Moon Express, Inc., a space transportation and lunar resources company located at Cape Canaveral, where he currently serves as President and CEO.

Alex Rodriguez with Mark Hoffman (Sports

Former New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, one of the greatest players in the history of the game, reflects on his storied career — the highs and the lows — and how he’s leveraging what he’s learned to mentor a new generation of sports stars on his new CNBC primetime series, Back in the Game. CNBC Chairman Mark Hoffman will moderate the conversation.

Photo: Flickr / Michael E. Lee

Brian Solis (Brands & Marketing

Brian Solis is Principal Analyst and Futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet and has been called one of the greatest digital analysts of our time by CMOs and CEOs of top brands. Additionally, Solis is an award-winning author of seven best-selling books including X: The Experience When Business Meets DesignWhat’s the Future of Business (WTF), and The End of Business as Usual.

Roy Spence (Workplace

Roy Spence is the chairman and co-founder of the advertising agency GSD&M and author of the books The Amazing Faith of Texas and It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For: Why Every Extraordinary Business Is Driven By Purpose. Spence is also Co-Founder and CEO of The Purpose Institute which helps organizations and leaders discover and fulfill their purpose.

Bruce Sterling (Startup & Tech Sectors)

Bruce Sterling, author, journalist, editor, and critic, was born in 1954. Best known for his ten science fiction novels, he also writes short stories, book reviews, design criticism, opinion columns, and introductions for books ranging from Ernst Juenger to Jules Verne. His most recent book, Utopia pirata – I racconti di Bruno Argento, is a collection of Italian fantascienza stories.

Bernard J. Tyson (Health & Wellness)

Bernard J. Tyson is the chairman and CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Hospitals — known as Kaiser Permanente, one of America’s leading integrated health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Under Tyson’s leadership, Kaiser Permanente continues to focus on providing affordable, accessible, high-quality health care and improving the health of its members and communities.

Keith Urban (Music Culture & Stories

Keith Urban is a premier songwriter, vocalist, musician and virtuoso guitarist. Over the course of his career, Urban has earned four Grammy Awards, ten Country Music Association Awards, eleven Academy of Country Music Awards, a People’s Choice and an American Music Award. His eighth studio album, RIPCORD, produced four #1 songs, bringing Urban’s total of #1s to twenty-two. Having achieved platinum status in 2016, one of only two country artists to hit that mark, Urban extends his historic streak (9) of platinum or multi-platinum albums.

Ingrid Vanderveldt (Startup & Tech Sectors

Ingrid Vanderveldt is the Chairman and CEO of Empowering a Billion Women by 2020 (EBW2020). Previously, she was the first Entrepreneur-in-Residence (“EIR”) for Dell Inc. where she oversaw entrepreneurial initiatives worldwide helping to build a $250 million business segment and founded the $125M Dell Innovators Credit Fund, Dell Founders Club, and the Dell Center for Entrepreneurs during her 3-year term.

Gary Vaynerchuk (Startup & Tech Sectors

Gary Vaynerchuk and Others Share Advice on Personal Branding

Gary Vaynerchuk is an entrepreneur, four-time New York Times best-selling author and CEO of VaynerMedia. Vaynerchuk is also a prolific angel investor and co-founded VaynerRSE, a $25M investment fund. Currently, he hosts two shows on his YouTube channel, #AskGaryVee and #DailyVee.

Alisa Vitti (Health & Wellness

Vitti is the founder of, a virtual health center that supports women’s hormonal and reproductive health and the creator of, the first biohacking menstrual app that uses functional medicine and phase-based recommendations to make your period better over time.

Cleo Wade (Social Impact

Cleo Wade, an outspoken artist, speaker, poet, and the author of a forthcoming book, is an inspiring voice in today’s world for gender and race equality. She creates motivating messages, blending simplicity with positivity, femininity and arresting honesty. Her poems, accessible yet empowering, speak to a greater future for all women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community, preaching love, acceptance, justice, and peace.

Amy Webb (Startup & Tech Sectors)

Amy Webb is an author, futurist and Founder of the Future Today Institute, a strategic foresight and futures forecasting company that advises the world’s leading businesses and governments. Forbes named Amy one of the world’s preeminent thinkers on the future impacts of technology.

Elaine Welteroth (News & Journalism)

As editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, Welteroth leads Teen Vogue‘s editorial vision, while also expanding the brand’s presence through new consumer experiences and products. Welteroth is largely responsible for the expansion of Teen Vogue‘s coverage to include a wide range of feminist, social-justice, and political topics, alongside fashion, beauty, and entertainment news.

Wendy Williams (Music Culture & Stories

Wendy Williams is a media mogul, actress, comedian, entrepreneur, designer, and New York Times best-selling author, who is best known for her long-running Daytime Emmy® nominated talk show, The Wendy Williams Show. Prior to achieving success in daytime television, Williams built a devoted fan base throughout a successful 23-year career in radio, with, The Wendy Williams Experience, being a top-rated daily radio show. Williams will discuss female empowerment in the entertainment and music industries.

Lawrence Wright (Government

Lawrence Wright is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of nine previous books of nonfiction including In the New WorldRemembering SatanThe Looming TowerGoing ClearThirteen Days in September, and The Terror Years, and one novel, God’s Favorite. His books have received many prizes and honors, including a Pulitzer Prize for The Looming Tower. His latest book, God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State, will be released in Spring 2018.

Young Guru (Music Industry)  

The Wall Street Journal calls Young Guru “the most influential man in hip-hop you’ve never heard of.” Often referred to as “The Sound of New York,” legendary audio engineer, Gimel “Young Guru” Keaton is most known for his work behind the boards with Jay Z. Guru’s ability to communicate complex technical terms, not only to artists but students, creatives, and business professionals alike, has led to his reputation as the foremost leader bridging the gap between hip-hop and the tech community.

Young Guru works tirelessly to help music and brands intersect in fruitful ways in his role as Chief Music Strategist at the advertising agency The Marketing Arm. Through his love for technology and innovation, Guru co-founded Era of the Engineer – a social enterprise designed to shed light where culture and technology intersect.

Andrew Zimmern (Food

A four-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, writer, and teacher, Andrew Zimmern is regarded as one of the most versatile and knowledgeable personalities in the food world. As the creator, executive producer, and host of the Bizarre Foods franchise on Travel Channel and Andrew Zimmern’s Driven by Food, he has explored cultures in more than 170 countries, promoting impactful ways to think about, create, and live with food.

Speaker descriptions provided by SXSW

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Written by:
Conor is the Lead Writer for For the last six years, he’s covered everything from tech news and product reviews to digital marketing trends and business tech innovations. He's written guest posts for the likes of Forbes, Chase, WeWork, and many others, covering tech trends, business resources, and everything in between. He's also participated in events for SXSW, Tech in Motion, and General Assembly, to name a few. He also cannot pronounce the word "colloquially" correctly. You can email Conor at
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