The initial slate of Keynotes and Featured Speakers for 2019’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festival have been announced and they include Academy Award-nominated Jason Blum, Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson as well as Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom. The fest kicks off March 8 and continues through March 17, 2019.
Known for its diverse, collaborative and inventive community, SXSW presents ideas that encourage and empower its audience of creative professionals to achieve their goals. Other speakers announced include 2017 Time Person of the Year Susan Fowler; world-renowned architect Bjarke Ingels; artist and musician Amanda Palmer; co-founder of Upworthy and Fellow at the New America Foundation Eli Pariser; New York Times bestselling author Michael Pollan; media theorist and author Douglas Rushkoff; Benevolent AI CEO Joanna Shields; futurist and author Amy Webb; and more.
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SXSW Conference programming is organized into 25 tracks divided between Interactive, Film, Music, and Convergence, presented in a variety of session formats. Read the complete list of initial Keynotes and Featured Speakers below.
Kevin Systrom with Josh Constine (Interactive) — Kevin Systrom (@kevin) is the CEO and co-founder of Instagram, a social networking platform that was acquired by Facebook in 2012. Instagram has grown into a global community of over one billion and a family of apps including Instagram, IGTV, Direct, Boomerang, Layout, and more. The company’s mission is to bring you closer to the people and things you love. Systrom is responsible for Instagram’s overall vision and strategy as well as day-to-day operations. Systrom will be in conversation with Josh Constine, Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch, whose scope of coverage includes social networks, streaming music, and early-stage companies.
Shirley Manson and Lauren Mayberry (Music) — Join vocalist Shirley Manson and singer-songwriter Lauren Mayberry for a Keynote Conversation in association with PRS Foundation’s Keychange program. Shirley Manson is best known as the lead vocalist of the critically-acclaimed alternative rock band Garbage, and has been an active recording artist for more than 30 years. They are currently in the studio working on their seventh record, and expect to be hitting the road later in 2018 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their Grammy-nominated album, Version 2.0. Lauren Mayberry is a singer-songwriter and frontwoman of the Scottish electronic pop band Chvrches. The band has released three critically-acclaimed and commercially successful albums, and has toured the world numerous times. As an artist, Mayberry has continuously challenged stereotypes and been unafraid to speak out on the role and treatment of female artists in the music industry.
Jason Blum with John Pierson (Entertainment Influencers) — In 1993 John Pierson — a big shot who helped launch a number of first time American independent filmmakers including Spike Lee, Michael Moore, Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith, Rose Troche and Guin Turner — met Jason Blum, a kid fresh out of college, when they worked on a forgotten feature called My Life’s In Turnaround together. 25 years later, Jason and his company Blumhouse Productions have conquered the universe. Blum is a two-time Academy Award-nominated and two-time Emmy and Peabody Award-winning producer. His multi-media company is known for pioneering a new model of studio filmmaking: producing high-quality micro-budget films. How the hell did he get from there to here and how do these two view that evolution?
Susan Fowler (Tech Industry & Enterprise) — Susan Fowler is a central figure in the #MeToo movement. Named Time magazine’s Person of the Year 2017 as one of the silence breakers, Fowler is the former Uber engineer whose viral blog post ignited an ongoing, worldwide conversation. The Financial Times named her Person of the Year as well — her actions, the paper writes, hold “the potential to improve the way women are treated at work permanently.” That’s Fowler’s public narrative so far. But her personal story — a homeschooled science nerd, a successful woman in STEM against incredible odds — is equally fascinating. She tackles a variety of topics in uplifting talks, including how regular people can effect positive change on a global and personal scale.
Bjarke Ingels (Design) — Bjarke Ingels is the founder of BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group). Ingels defines architecture as the art and science of making sure our cities and buildings fit with the way we want to live our lives. Through careful analysis of various parameters from local culture and climate, ever changing patterns of contemporary life, to the ebbs and flows of the global economy, Ingels believes in the idea of information-driven design as the driving force for his design process. Named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time magazine in 2016, Bjarke has designed and completed award-winning buildings around the world.
Amanda Palmer (Making & Marketing Music) — Amanda Palmer is a singer, songwriter, playwright, pianist, and blogger who embraces and explodes traditional frameworks of music, theatre, and art. She emerged as half of the Boston-based punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls, earning global applause for their wide-ranging theatricality and inventive songcraft. Her solo career has proven equally boundless, including such groundbreaking works as the fanfunded Theatre Is Evil. Palmer is again joining forces with producer John Congleton to release her first solo album in seven years in Spring 2019.
Eli Pariser (Social & Global Impact) — Eli Pariser has dedicated his career — as an author, an online organizer, and a co-founder of Upworthy — to figuring out how technology can elevate important topics in the world. In 2018, Pariser was inducted into the SXSW Interactive Hall of Fame. Currently, Pariser is an Omidyar Fellow at the New America Foundation, studying how platforms can effectively promote civic good.
Michael Pollan (Health & MedTech) — Michael Pollan is the author of eight books, including most recently How to Change Your Mind, a number one New York Times Bestseller. Previous books include The Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Botany of Desire, and In Defense of Food. Pollan teaches journalism at Berkeley and Harvard. In 2010, Time magazine named him to its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Douglas Rushkoff (Intelligent Future) — Douglas Rushkoff is a media theorist, author, documentarian, and world-renowned public intellectual. Rushkoff has spent his prolific career thinking about how new media and technology are impacting culture, business, and the economy. Named one of the world’s 10 most influential thinkers by MIT, Rushkoff has written 15 bestselling books and coined such concepts as “viral media,” “social currency,” and “digital natives.”
Joanna Shields (Intelligent Future) — Joanna Shields is a digital entrepreneur, experienced executive, and prominent leader in the global technology industry with a track record in helping to grow some of the world’s best-known transformational companies. She is currently CEO of BenevolentAI, the global leader in the development and application of AI for scientific innovation. Most recently, Shields served as the UK Minister for Internet Security & Safety, a Special Advisor to the UK Government on the Digital Economy, and Chair & CEO of TechCityUK.
Ari Paul, Kyle Samani, Linda Xie with Robert Hackett (Blockchain & Cryptocurrency) — Join Kyle Samani (Managing Partner, Multicoin Capital), Linda Xie (Managing Director, Scalar Capital), Ari Paul (CIO, Blocktower), and moderator Robert Hackett (Editor, Fortune) for a conversation with managers from Scalar Capital, BlockTower, and Multicoin Capital as they elucidate their investment approaches and predict the future of blockchain for users around the world.
Amy Webb (Tech Industry & Enterprise) — Amy Webb is a quantitative futurist. She is a professor of strategic foresight at the NYU Stern School of Business and the Founder of the Future Today Institute, a leading foresight and strategy firm that helps leaders and their organizations prepare for complex futures. Webb will deliver her Emerging Tech Trends Report, where she’ll provide a data-driven analysis for the emerging tech trends that need to be on your radar in 2019––and she’ll draw on those trends to show you scenarios for the future of business, governing and society.
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