South by Southwest opens -- tech flourishes

The Interactive/Film Fusion Party at South by Southwest in 2011.

Stacey Vanek Smith: Today the South by Southwest festival kicks off in Austin. It's long been known as a big music scene, where independent bands get discovered. But this year, the festival's technical side is getting a lot of attention.

Jeff Tyler reports.


Jeff Tyler: South by Southwest is like three events in one: Music, film, and technology. More people register for the Interactive festival, even though it’s the most expensive of the three -- at $950.

Hugh Forrest is director of the Interactive festival. He expects lots of entrepreneurs will introduce new companies.

Hugh Forrest: While the general economy is still rather sluggish, the start-up economy is very robust.

Austin hotels sell out months in advance, says economist Angelos Angelou.

Angelos Angelou: Not even half the people who come toAustin are able to be accommodated in area hotels.

He says that creates an opportunity for local entrepreneurs.

Angelou: I know of a lot of people – particularly empty-nesters – that, if they have an extra room or so in their home, they rent it.

Last year, festival organizers say South by Southwest brought $175 million into the local economy -- and they expect this year will be even more profitable.

I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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