Anyone who has ever trekked down to Austin for the Interactive portion of South by Southwest, a jumble of talks about technology, parties and music performances, knows that while it is an amazing confluence of the best and brightest in the start-up world, it can also be something of a nightmare to navigate.
Andy Baio, a well-known blogger who helped build the fund-your-project site Kickstarter, and Andy McMillan, who organizes a conference in Belfast called Build, are working on an alternative. Their festival, called XOXO, will try to recreate some of the best aspects of an event like SXSW but without the headache-inducing crowds and marketing noise.
The four-day conference is scheduled for mid-September in Portland, Ore. Attendance will be limited to 400 people to try to preserve some of the intimacy that can be lost at larger events. It will focus on “disruptive creativity” and feature talks by entrepreneurs, including the founders behind Etsy, Kickstarter, 4chan, Metafilter, The Atatvist and VHX.tv. The event will also include a marketplace of local goods and food carts, as well as workshops, film screenings, indie video games, craft beers and coffee tastings.
“We started XOXO because we felt like it needed to exist. It feels like everyone’s realizing that the old gatekeepers aren’t necessary anymore,” Mr. Baio said. “If you have a good idea and an audience, you don’t need a studio, publisher or label to make it happen.”