24 Israeli companies participated in the last SXSW Interactive conference in the Texas capital of Austin, including Google Israel Ltd., Microsoft Israel Ltd., AnyClip Ltd. , Calypso Media Networks Ltd., Innova Music Ltd., and film producer Tinstar Creative Pool Ltd.
What began as an alternative rock conference in 1987 is now a B2B conference for the interactive, film, and music industries. You might find difficult to find punk metal bands from Missouri there, but you go, you might see a media venture dancing to the beat of a Brazilian band. This is more or less what Western culture has undergone in the past 20 years, and roughly what happened four years ago, when a development called Twitter was unveiled there.
This year too, top internet and interactive executives will invest heavily in a demonstration of crushing presence and acquisition campaigns, but what interests the conference organizers, in addition to keeping their prestige, is innovation. This is one of the reasons why the conference staffers seek out many Israeli companies. Israel is considered a technology and creative powerhouse, and SXSW Interactive wants as many Israeli companies to participate on a regular basis, in order to find breakthrough ventures.
Another reason is SXSW Interactive's growing profitability. SXSW Interactive international development manager Mirko Whitfield told "Globes", "My strategy is to bring in more Israeli companies."
Whitfield says, "Israel is no. 1 in the world in IT development today. The conference is the perfect place to find financing and investors. Israelis are creative people, maybe because the geopolitical situation necessitates dealing with a large number of problems in a short amount of time. Israelis also need these events for inspiration to fell that they are part of the community."
"Globes": How do the three fields - interactive, music, and film - integrate conceptually?
Whitfield: "These are separate simultaneous events at the same premises. We offer participants a platinum badge that grants entry to all the events. A film producer can find a musician to write a suitable score, and new media start-up entrepreneurs can find screenplay writers."
"People are prejudiced against Texas," says Whitfield, when asked, probably not for the first time, why SXSW Interactive is held there. "Austin is a capital city, and it's really a liberal town. I can understand where this is coming from… the state's image. I agree with you about the conservatism. It's something cultural, but don’t forget that this was once Mexico, and we have a lot of Hispanics here."
Still, why in Austin, Texas?
"It is desirable for the conference to be held in Texas, beyond the symbolism of the post-internet bubble at the start of the millennium. When the internet bubble burst, and lot of high-tech entrepreneurs moved from New York and Los Angeles. Austin in the middle of the US - a three hours flight from the East and West Coasts, and its cost of living is much cheaper. Texas also has a very famous university, and a lot of technology industries. It is number 2 after Silicon Valley. This combination of creative people, university graduates, and developed and developing technology industries are fertile ground for new ideas."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 28, 2011
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