Tell us about your career at South by Southwest.
I got to know several of the festival’s founders in the 1980s. They were at the largest alternative newspaper in the city (The Austin Chronicle), while I was publisher of another much smaller newspaper (The Austin Challenger).
After working at a separate sports publication in the early 1990s, I got involved with South by Southwest in 1994. I’ve been here ever since.
What was your career like before South by Southwest?
I grew up in Austin, went away to school, and returned after I received my bachelor’s degree in English from Ohio’s Kenyon College.
I started the Challenger in 1985. Through it I got to be friends with the founders of South by Southwest while they were still at the Chronicle.
In 1989, I went to work at a separate newspaper, the Texas Sports Chronicle. I began at South by Southwest in 1994.
What is your view of the business climate in Texas?
Particularly from the viewpoint of the industry we focus on, Texas is doing well in the startup economy.
The Kauffman Foundation recently ranked Austin No. 1 among U.S. metro areas by the measure of an index for startup activity. The Greater Houston area came in at No. 7.
However, there are concerns that the technology startup economy is too frothy. Some crazy money is getting thrown around. Hopefully we’re not in for a correction.
Why did you join YTEXAS?
South by Southwest is all about networking. YTexas provide us with the opportunity to make connections with some intriguing people that we might never otherwise meet.
That is a very good thing.
What makes South by Southwest different?
What separates us is the scope and breadth of the industries that we cover.
There are a lot of great technology events around the world and throughout Texas. Not many of them incorporate technology, film, television and music the way ours does.
Bringing together creative people across these industries provides a strong platform for networking and making connections.
What issues are affecting your business that concern you?
During South by Southwest, we see more visitor demand for lodging than Austin can accommodate.
And since hotel prices tend to be higher at that time of year, that makes it harder for folks to visit Central Texas for our event.
We’d love to see our region add additional hotel rooms, especially at affordable rates, so everyone who wants to can attend South by Southwest.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a writer. So I have recently been doing a project on a website where I write four-plus paragraphs daily of analysis of technology trends.
It’s a great mental exercise, and I enjoy the self-discipline of writing. I enjoy reading really good writing, and it inspires me to work on my craft.
I am also focusing on exercising more.
Everything, everything will get into balance.