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March 16, 2010

No 'suits' allowed at SXSW

Posted: 08:07 PM ET

You see plenty of tech company founders and CEOs at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas – many of them building empires at the age of 20.

But you don’t see very many "suits."

In fact, the prototypical SXSW executive probably looks more like a hipster than a businessman – sporting jeans, some trendy t-shirt and striped sneakers.

And, to make things all the more bizarre, you might even stumble upon one of them writhing around the floor of the Hilton lobby, as I did this year at the annual tech convention.

(This video will make it all make sense).

The executive, who was fully embracing the non-square nature of SXSW, was Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley. I spotted him in a spontaneous backstroke competition across the hotel lobby floor at 2:30 in the morning.  And, no, there wasn’t a swimming pool involved.

Danny Newman of id345, an idea consulting firm, defeated Crowley in the match.  He told me I had witnessed an annual tradition, already in its fifth year.  Newman excitedly said that he remains undefeated in the contest.

He also said the backstroke-swimming execs have been kicked out of the lobby in previous years.

Not this year, though.  Perhaps Crowley and his buddies have earned enough street cred in Austin to ‘check in’ to any hotel here and do whatever they want.  Isn’t that how rock stars act?

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Filed under: Foursquare • location • SXSW • SXSW Interactive • SXSWi

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kmccabe   March 16th, 2010 8:46 pm ET

well i didn't make it to #SXSW this year...maybe next year. But thanks to al those #SXSW -ers in the socialsphere that shared their experiences. Wanna bet its bigger next year? 🙂

Jeff Goldblum   March 16th, 2010 8:51 pm ET

SXSW is a blight on Austin and bodes poorly for the future of culture.

picasso   March 16th, 2010 10:18 pm ET

Given what I've seen of Austin on the off-season, I don't really see how it's so different from what usual goes on

Chris   March 16th, 2010 10:21 pm ET

Shotty No Joust!!!

foreverjalabert   March 16th, 2010 10:22 pm ET

thank you SXSW'ers for coming into our city for two weeks, spending millions on tall lattes and fancy tacos. we love you and your green pumas, but unfortunately the city is closed at the end of SXSW and you can't stay.

Anonymous   March 16th, 2010 10:25 pm ET

mecca for music snobs and hipsters. BLEH

ATX   March 16th, 2010 10:38 pm ET

Just what we need, more snobs in austin. Dont understand how people love to come here so much but they just want to build and change things. Theyve destroyed what we used to have here.

Ethan Stenis   March 16th, 2010 10:38 pm ET

Even though Austin swells to near bursting this time every year, it's events like this that make the city worth living in. SXSW is innovative turning point in tech culture every year, and it is helping to evolve a new type of business that is redefining our future. God bless Thomas Jefferson.

PS   March 16th, 2010 10:41 pm ET

At least its not the biker rally or texas relays. Can't wait for all these wonderful people to head home.

thesuit   March 16th, 2010 11:12 pm ET

Please get a life.

Marc   March 16th, 2010 11:36 pm ET

if by life, you mean a decent house, some kids and a job that means nothing.... no thanks. You can enjoy that for me.

YoungSuit   March 16th, 2010 11:47 pm ET

First time SXSW experience (just moved here a year ago) but I don't mind people watching people my age pretend to be happy drinking cheap beer for a lifestyle. I'll be in my downtown loft people watching. White collar? yes please.

worldcreator   March 16th, 2010 11:57 pm ET

Austin has great TACOS. Btw, anyone know that Nirvana played SXSW waaay back in the early 90s?

No name required   March 17th, 2010 12:29 am ET

Austin is full of hypocrites.

jo   March 17th, 2010 12:36 am ET

The internet is full of hypocrites.

wizardwayne   March 17th, 2010 1:04 am ET

SXSW is full employment for drug dealers and thugs.

The Empire of SXSW is commanded by greedy organizers who charge exorbitant fees for attending or exhibiting, and run the enterprise with volunteers.

A showcase for art, film, music, or technology? Nope. Just greedy CEO-wannabes pretending to be significant while a wannabe press and bloggers proclaim it's worth.

It's NASCAR for hipsters.

mike   March 17th, 2010 2:24 am ET

Did you mean it was the house, the kids or the job that means nothing?

John   March 17th, 2010 2:54 am ET

Pork chop sammiches.

Ed   March 17th, 2010 2:54 am ET

'mecca for music snobs and hipsters. BLEH" – anonymous

correction – mecca for COMMERCIAL music snobs and hipsters.

soda flint   March 17th, 2010 3:35 am ET

Why so many negative AH's here? Being an Austinite, I think it's things like this in this article that make living in Austin really cool. I've met the original organizers of SXSW, and I cannot believe the comments I see here! Chances are, most folks commenting don't even live in Austin. Austin is a place for expressing artistic talent, social diversity, & enjoyment of nature, art, and people. It's also a place for new vocal artists to get a name say. Anyone who chooses to view only negative, TAKE THOSE COMMENTS WITH A GRAIN OF NASTY TASTING SALT! Have fun here... we'll see ya'!

frank drebin   March 17th, 2010 3:36 am ET

SXSW: 3 weeks Texas gets an influx of brains

Mike   March 17th, 2010 4:58 am ET

I just wish all of you transplants would go back to where you came from. Just go away!

mike   March 17th, 2010 5:02 am ET

This city has been destoryed by building all those condo's in the downtown area. This city has been ruined.

Mark   March 17th, 2010 8:13 am ET

SXSW is lame. Hipsters are lame. Both should end.

masc   March 17th, 2010 8:30 am ET

SXSW is full of self important wannabes. You know the kind.

Easily impressed by themselves. They don realize that, yes, there are other young people doing even more amazing things than making money and wearing clothes/hairstyles that were hip last year.

It's too bad they and their kind have taken over the lovely city of Austin.

DC.NCL   March 17th, 2010 8:48 am ET

I think alot of people here are getting the SXSW "nerd" tech conference confused with the SXSW "hipster" music event. Two completely different things here people!! Considering most nerds tend to be pretty polite and introverted I doubt theyre causing too much trouble to the city.
Beides- if you dont want to have to deal with these things then dont live in a major metropolitan tourist area!

Clay   March 17th, 2010 8:52 am ET

I'd work with these folks over the shyster suits from corporate Amerika and Wall Street any day. It's sickly ironic that the people who object to the SXSW dress and behavior codes still hold suits in high regard, even after they've destroyed our country and economy. Methinks most of the objectors are intolerant christian conservatives who also support removing Thomas Jefferson from the Texas history books.

LaughingAllThe Way   March 17th, 2010 8:53 am ET

I find all of the 'get off my lawn' and 'this generation of youngsters has not respect' posts highly amusing.

Austin was never how you remmeber it.

20 year olds in jeans are not the end of western civilization.

ATX2   March 17th, 2010 8:54 am ET

Go back to where you came from! Especially you Californian's! You've ruined the city with your greed and hypocrisy.

Brian Peppers   March 17th, 2010 9:07 am ET

What?! You mean being comfortable makes you less irritated and more productive? What a novel concept this will turn out to be 20 years ago.

mpf   March 17th, 2010 9:10 am ET

First of all, why are these people "snobs"? I think its good that they own their own business, are young, intelligent, and most importantly they realize dress codes are for schoolchildren and prison inmates, not intelligent, functional people.

Austin is a great place to live and it has gotten even better thanks to the high tech companies and SXSW, plese feel free to come to our city and spend your money!

Gibdog   March 17th, 2010 9:14 am ET

Just like everything else that lasts too long; the hipsters age and struggle to maintain their 'cool' thereby sucking the life out of what was once a great event.

Go sniff your money and sponsor a venue!

Mike   March 17th, 2010 9:35 am ET

A "hipster" is someone who wears jeans, a "trendy t-shirt" and striped sneakers? LOL, now THAT's funny!!

Addie Chase   March 17th, 2010 9:42 am ET

Funny so out of the norm(stating the obvious), thou totally cool. 😀

Jeremy Johnstone   March 17th, 2010 12:45 pm ET

For complete footage including pre and post race commentary, check out this video:


CEO   March 17th, 2010 10:42 pm ET

It's funny how people laugh at those who are innovative and successful because they think outside the box.

The same people spend their lives just working for someone else, and then whine because they are poor.

rasvar   March 18th, 2010 10:25 pm ET

I would work for any of the small hard working companies at SXSW before I would even consider a financial or energy company. Those large companies are the top two reasons for the economic collapse.

These people have it right. Might as well enjoy things now. There is going to be no money when you are older. Retirement is a pipe dream for anyone under 40 these days.

Huh?   March 20th, 2010 1:08 am ET

Austin in the "off-season" is the same as during SXSW? Try businesses change their menus during SXSW and gauge their prices, most of the specials at restaurants go away, local artists can't get gigs, locals can't get into bars/restaurants/movies/etc., and d-bags run amok. Hypocrites? Probably. But they're didn't come from Austin, just moved here.

One more thing...   March 20th, 2010 1:12 am ET

@soda flint And where are you from? I was born in Austin, lived here my entire life, and if I'm an AH for hating SXSW then so be it; but don't come in here and start calling people out and telling them where they come from. I've seen Austin change from having signs that say "Keep Austin Local" to "Keep Austin Corporate."; I'm guessing you're one of the "Keep Austin Corporate" types.

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