Aside from last year, this is my third year going to Austin, Texas for the annual South by Southwest Interactive festival. And this year will be my last. Many people think the festival is about networking and how to make your social life better. It’s all a lie! It’s nothing but overwhelming, misleading panels and standing in long lines with pretentious people to enter parties by startups with lots of venture capitol funding where nobody remembers the name and will cease to exist next year – if not earlier.
But it doesn’t compare to the main reason why I’m not coming back next year: the price. If my math is correct and looking at how SXSW organizers raise the price of a badge each year, the starting price for an interactive badge should be $995. Five dollars short of a thousand dollars! I rather put that money towards a ticket for the Super Bowl (in some cases, the low end of a Super Bowl ticket will be cheaper than a SXSW interactive badge).
It’s not just the badges that are expensive, hotels in Austin are also taking advantage of young people with disposable income. I finally understand why SXSW scoops up every hotel room in Travis county, they control the price. While a room booking through SXSW, a hotel room in downtown Austin goes for $299 a night, which is why those rooms go fast. If you don’t, expect to pay full price for a room. In one case, a Marriott hotel (Courtyard) in south-southwestern Austin went for $599 a night. Another hotel room at a Hilton in Travis County also went for $599 a night. And that’s if you’re able to get a room in Austin or anywhere within a 35 miles radius.
Why can’t you get a room? Because 21,000 hipsters converge on city. And they will suck the soul out of your life. Nobody wants to talk to you; they never glace up from their phones. They dress with clothing from indie labels and snide at you if you wear “regular” clothing from department stores. The worst part is dealing with their huge egos, almost the size of the state of Texas. They boast about the tens – or hundreds – of thousands of Twitter followers like a CEO talking revenue during an earning call. They spew anger when they fell disrespected, often without rational thinking. “I’ve been waiting in line for hours! If you don’t let me in immediate, I will tell my 15,000 followers on Twitter how horrible my experience has been and nobody will care about your startup!” I haven’t personally overheard this experience but it has happened. The story has been told to me several times.
There will be SXSW supporters telling you that taking out a mortgage to pay for the price of a badge and hotel stay is worth it as you get valuable knowledge to help you advance your career and increase your social life to reach new heights . . . blah blah blah – all lies too! Many – if not, all – panels are misleading and has been going on for years. Sure the title on the panel say one thing but when you get there, it’s nothing but self-loathing people praising their awesome abilities and those in attendance start praising the panelists and you really want to jump off the highest part of the convention center.
While it may sound like this is the case for every panel, it’s not. There are hidden panel gems that do have useful information that can make your social life better but a majority of the panels are worthless – which is why many people walk out of the panels within the first five minutes of the start of the panel. Why organizers don’t allow attendees to rate the panel is a perplexing mystery.
These are my reasons why I’m not attending SXSW next year. There could be a small chance that I may attend the conference next year but only for parties and if I go with a group. I’m 99% sure this is my last. So when I visit SXSW’s website later this year and look at the price for an interactive badge, my credit card will stay in my wallet.