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This article was published on March 16, 2008

SXSW: Where were the Europeans?

SXSW: Where were the Europeans?
Guest blogger
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Guest blogger

This article is written by a rather interesting person who was kind enough to share his/ her views on the next web. This article is written by a rather interesting person who was kind enough to share his/ her views on the next web.

This is a guest post by Stefan Fountain from Dutch start-up Soocial.

By now most will have read about the Zuckerberg revolt (video here, and more), the release of Clickpass, and all the other big news. Yet I noticed something equally remarkable at the SXSW conference in Texas last week.

SxSW Panel on Portable Social Networks
Building Portable Social Networks Panel – with Jeremy Keith, Chris Messina, Leslie Chicoine, Joseph Smarr, David Recordon

My impression of SXSW has been generally very good, the quality of the panels outstanding, yet the most important part of visiting this conference was – surprise! – meeting people. Walking around and having conversations with the likes of JavaScript heroes John Resig (jQuery), Thomas Fuchs (, Sam Stephenson (Prototype), Chris Messina (OAuth evangelist), Simon Willison (OpenID evangelist). At parties I met people from Google, Microsoft or Yahoo! in various stages of intoxication. I even got some quick peeks at Billy Bob Thornton and Moby.

It wasn’t until the last day at the closing party when I was talking to a hard-to-understand German that I realized something. This was the first European I had spoken to. We met the great guys from Brighton-based Clearleft and quite a few other British guys, but where were the main-land Europeans? Perhaps I missed them, yet I’m judging from the panels, parties we went to and after speaking to over a hundred people. The statistics support my theory. My contact at SXSW confirms that 3 percent of the attendees came from the European mainland. Although the statistics on traffics to probably don’t say much, cumulative European visits is around 16 percent.

For what is arguably the most important tech event of the year, is the lack of European involvement a sign of something greater? Is it the current political climate, lack of European startups, overkill of our collective chauvinism or <enter any far-fetched reason here>? I don’t know, but what I do think it’s important to be present either to influence someone’s views, or to be influenced and inspired yourself.

So I would encourage European startups and established companies to head over to SXSW next year as it is well worth the money, jet lag, the occasional loud Americans, fat food and other pre-conceptions largely encountered on this trip. I think it’s time we head over the pond to learn, meet and share our own wealth of knowledge.

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