Listen to Austin 360 Radio

SXSW 2014 No. 2: Books and Bytes, Startup Oasis and more

Michael Barnes
mbarnes@statesman.com

SXSW 2.1: Books at a digital conference? But yes! Books and Bytes attracted sharp, mixed crowd to Lucille on Rainey Street, just as the mini-district started to heat up for SXSW. (Have you seen the Container Bar? Worth the wait, at least for the look.) At more restrained Lucille, I greeted Rusty Shelton of Shelton Interactive, who put this confab together, and Kevin Allen, founder and chairman of Planet Jockey, which has developed a game for would-be executives. The model helps managers employ emotional intelligence, rather than raw force, to get things done. Allen, formerly in the ad biz, recognized long ago what studies are telling us now: That emotionally intelligent leadership is exponentially more effective than other methods. (Planning to check out his booth at the SXSWi trade show, which I almost forgot.)

SXSW 2.2: East Sixth Street filled quickly with SXSW festers. Plus fans of the state basketball tournament and those locals who feed on torrents of social energy. You can tell the three groups apart without the badges. My destination was Old School, which replaced the longstanding Paradise Bar & Grill at 401 E. Sixth. Upstairs in this handsome brick building, a noisy assembly cheered on the Startup Oasis, a product of Big Commerce which had staged a big SXSW Sale. Didn’t entirely understand, but struck up an instructive conversation with Heather Martin, director of business development at Leverage PR, one of the country’s fastest-growing public relations agencies. We talked about how to gear the wisdom of PR to crowdsourced businesses. (So far, six parties this week and I learned something at every one.)

SXSW 2.3: The Uber + Vox party at ACL Live and the Elevate Austin party at Malverde were both way oversubscribed. The line — 10 guests across — wrapped around the block for Uber + Vox. The hostess at Malverde told me they would start — start! — admitting guests one in/one out no sooner than an hour after it began. Is any party worth that? Not when there are hundreds of SXSW options all around one. Over on the west terrace at the Palmer Events Center, the official Opening Night Party for SXSW Interactive was slow getting underway. But soon folks made the circuit of the games, light shows and tech toys. An hour or so later, it felt like a real party with guests chatting in far more depth than at most other parties this size. (This SXSW is ready to go.)