SXSW: Beleaguered by Brands

by francine Hardaway on March 14, 2011

It’s over, folks. This was my fourth year at SXSW. Although I missed the big Twitter breakout, I was there when Freshbooks launched, and Foursquare, and Plancast. Each year I have found something I could use, or something the businesses I mentor could use.

Not this year. Last night I thankfully turned off my alerts from Foursquare, Gowalla, Beluga, GroupMe, Textplus, Yobongo, and God knows what else, secure in the knowledge that I was missing nothing.

I have spent three days arriving at places my friends had just left, or leaving somewhere right before someone who wanted to see me arrived. It was a gigantic scavenger hunt, in which the prizes were people, not brands.

I love South-by. It’s a great place for people to see all the folks who they follow on Twitter or whose blogs they read, but whom they have never met IRL. But as it gets bigger, I miss more and more of those every year.  My list of missed friends for this year: Robert, Rocky and Rob, my friends from Rackspace; Dave McClure and Mark Suster, my favorite VCs, @newmediajim, one of my first Twitter friends, and Dan Gillmor. These are people I had something to tell, or just wanted to hug and connect with.

Now, I did serendipitously see a way bigger list. But you know what I mean. I mean I spent 3 hours at Momo’s watching Leo laPorte broadcast TNT and TWiT, yet I missed Gary Vee, who appeared five minutes after I left for Mashable House, where I just missed the chance to get in anyway to see Randy Zuckerberg and Wiggles.

But I was buffeted and beleaguered by brands: AOL, Chevy, Pepsi, especially, but also smaller ones like SquareSpace and Fast Company who were trying to rise above the noise.

I have come to the conclusion that some things don’t scale, and conferences are one of them. Bigger isn’t better from the standpoint of GTD.

However. On the other hand. It has been reported that Hugh Forrest is giving all the proceeds from SXSW this year to Japan’s earthquake victims. OK, then, I will go again next year.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Fanny Mae March 15, 2011 at 1:35 am

Aren’t you the woman who is asking those taxpayers that are far better than you are at managing their money and investments pay to bail you out of your dumb real estate decisions? Right, I thought so. NEXT!

Merlin U Ward March 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Love this post, Francine! Having a huge conference does have it’s problems, but it seems like there is still a lot of good and connecting happening out there.

I hope to make it to Austin next year to see the fury first hand. Watching the crowd online certainly isn’t the same and I can’t settle with the feeling that everything I want see, hear and engage in is going on without me…

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