More than 76,000 people went to Austin last year for South by Southwest's conferences devoted to film, music, interactive, and, its then-newest entrant, education—a 23% increase from 2012. (This year, SXSW will add sports to its mix. Geek-outs for all!) But the biggest success came 1,266 miles away in Las Vegas, where a spinoff for startup types, V2V, drew 1,500 people. SXSW is no longer bound by geography. So, why Vegas?
It has space:
"We used to do an event in Portland called North by Northwest. We looked at Vegas at the time, but it was booming and too expensive. Now Vegas is overbuilt, we can afford to do something there—and we were recruited by the Las Vegas Convention Bureau."
—Roland Swenson, cofounder and president, SXSW
It's a safety net:
"I don't think all of the growth of Interactive is all of a sudden going to go to Vegas, but in four to five years, if the Vegas event grows, it helps mitigate growth pressure off of Austin."
—Hugh Forrest, Director, SXSW Interactive
It reclaims Austin:
"My pet theory for why they did V2V is that they have a bit of a distaste for all the startup culture and VC money and would rather that be something outside Austin."
—Omar Gallaga, technology culture reporter, Austin American-Statesman
It's a reboot:
"I was a mentor at V2V last year. It reminded me a lot of the early SXSW years. There are a lot of weirdos, and maybe we don't all quite fit in together and are not exactly sure what this new event is, but we think it's something important."
—Patrick Curry, founder and CEO, Tsug
It's more fun:
"What I really liked about V2V was that it was like SXSW when it was smaller—when companies sent only one person instead of whole groups, and everybody was forced to mingle."
—Sweet John Muehlbauer, director of social media, Sitegoals