SXSW Featured Speakers Showcase Some of the World's Most Innovative Thinkers

Jacquelline Fuller, Kerry Washington, Anthony Foxx, Esteban Contreras, Anthony Bourdain, Pete Cashmore, Tracy Chou, Maxine Williams

Looking for mind-expanding presentations by industry leaders? SXSW Interactive Featured Sessions bring together some of the biggest and brightest names of our time. Across the various themes and trends at SXSW, Featured Sessions present a snapshot of the most transformative ideas shaping our future.

Learn more about tracks and formats

2016 Confirmed Featured Speakers

Stay tuned to this page for our next announcement

  • Jim Bankoff — Chairman and CEO of Vox Media creating the modern media company.
  • Jonah Berger – Best-selling author and professor at The Wharton School who will talk about his new book Invisible Influence.
  • Anthony Bourdain — CNN host and investor/editor-at-large at Roads & Kingdoms building digital media with a soul.
    • Interviewed by Nathan Thornburgh — CEO at Roads & Kingdoms (SouthBites)
  • Ken Burns and Henry Louis Gates Jr. – The award-winning filmmaker and renowned scholar, respectively, discuss why race is critical to their understanding of America and their work and how as a nation we deal with race today. (SXgood)
  • Stewart Butterfield — Co-Founder of Slack simplifying collaboration across your business.
  • Steve Case – A pioneer in making the Internet part of everyday life, on what's to come with The Third Wave (April 2016) of the Internet.
  • Pete Cashmore – Founder & CEO of Mashable Inc previewing the next decade in both media and technology.
  • Tracy Chou — Engineer at Pinterest quantifying tech's diversity issue.
  • Alex Chung — CEO of Giphy spearheading a vast visual search engine and new tool for self-expression.
  • Esteban Contreras — Director of Strategy at Sprinklr covering enterprise-level social media solutions.
  • Secretary Anthony Foxx — US Secretary of Transportation accelerating smart city innovation.
  • Jacquelline Fuller – Director of supporting education, development, disaster relief and clean energy through charitable giving. (SXgood)
  • Jonathan Greenblatt – National Director of the Anti-Defamation League decoding the dark side of extremists’ incredibly savvy use of social media.
  • Ryan Hoover — Founder of Product Hunt defining what's cool in tech for investors and reporters.
  • Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer – Co-creators and stars of Comedy Central’s hit series Broad City on parlaying a web series into a TV phenom and mastering the art of the meme. (Future of Entertainment)
  • Jerry Kaplan – Futurist warning that while robots are poised to transform today’s society, the advances they offer could come at a price.
  • Kevin Kelly – Senior Maverick at Wired and author of The Inevitable, Kelly speaks on the twelve technological forces that will shape our future.
  • Larry King – Co-founder, Host at Ora TV staying connected through in-depth interviews with the most compelling personalities. (Future of Entertainment)
  • Josh Kushner — Founder of Thrive Capital and co-founder of Oscar disrupting healthcare through tech, data and design.
  • Meredith Perry — CEO and Founder of uBeam rethinking the way our devices receive power through wireless charging.
    • In conversation with Mark Cuban – Internet pioneer, billionaire, angel investor, Mavericks owner.
  • Gretchen Rubin — Author of Better than Before on mastering the habits of our everyday lives.
  • Douglas Rushkoff — Author of forthcoming book Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus revealing how the digital economy enslaves us all, and how it can still set us free.
  • Adam Silver — Commissioner of the National Basketball Association discussing how one of the top professional sports leagues in the world continues to innovate and embrace change. (SXsports)
  • Megan Smith – United States Chief Technology Officer joined by technologists and innovators transforming government.
  • Maria Teresa Kumar — President and CEO of Voto Latino empowering a generation of young voters. (SXgood)
  • Josh Tetrick – Founder and CEO of Hampton Creek, the world's fastest growing food company, discusses starting over in food.
    • Interviewed by Andrew Zimmern – Travel Channel producer and host, author and chef. (SouthBites)
  • Lila Tretikov — Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation working to preserve open source information.
  • John Underkoffler — CEO of Oblong Industries creating the next generation of computing interfaces.
  • Amber Venz — President and Co-Founder of rewardStyle and revolutionizing fashion blogging. (SXstyle)
  • Emily Weiss – Founder & CEO of Glossier, explaining how the "self sells" movement in the beauty industry can help inform a variety of entrepreneurial ventures. (SXstyle)
  • Kerry Washington – Actress, philanthropist harnessing the power of social media to promote not only her career, hit TV Show Scandal, but also positivity, and social good.
  • Maxine Williams — Global Director of Diversity for Facebook sharing how influencers and individuals can drive more diversity in tech. (SXgood)

Featured Sessions

  • Changing the Pace and Face of Innovation: Moderated by Michelle K. Lee, the first woman to head the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, who returns to Austin to share her vision on bolstering the innovator ecosystem. Also featured on this session:

    • Jessica Matthews – Co-Founder and CEO of Uncharted Play
    • Jessica Richman – Co-Founder and CEO of uBiome
    • Sonia Sousa – Co-founder and CEO of Kenzen
  • How to Ask for Money: Know Your Worth, Get Paid: Moderated by Leah ChernikoffEditor of

    • Kimberly Bryant — Founder and Executive Director of Black Girls CODE leading a movement to “change the face of technology”
    • Jane Park — Founder & CEO of Julep Beauty bringing women together to give them a voice in beauty
    • Danae Ringelmann — Chief Development Officer and Co-founder at Indiegogo democratizing funding and empowering entrepreneurs
  • Mr. Robot: Sam Esmail, Rami Malek, and Christian Slater – Creator and actors of the summer TV hit show and 2015 SXSW Film Festival alum, Mr. Robot.

    • Sam Esmail – Creator and producer of USA hit show Mr. Robot
    • Rami Malek – Actor of USA hit show Mr. Robot
    • Christian Slater – Actor of USA hit show Mr. Robot

Opening & Closing Remarks

  • Opening Remarks: Jonah Berger — World renowned expert on word of mouth, author and Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Closing Remarks: Bruce Sterling — World traveler, science fiction author, journalist, and future-focused design critic.

Bill Gurley and Malcolm Gladwell at SXSW Interactive 2015

2015 Programming Highlights

  • Art, Science and Inspiration: origins of innovation with US CTO Megan Smith
  • Branding and Marketing: shifts in the digital media consumption with Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore
  • Design and Development: design trends in technology with KPCB’s Design Partner, John Maeda
  • Content and Distribution: growth of messaging apps with Yik Yak’s founders Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll
  • Gaming: tips for preserving creative control with The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman
  • Global Impact and Policy: diversity and inclusion initiatives in tech with Reverend Jesse Jackson
  • Health and Medtech: democratizing medicine with Dr. Eric Topol, author of The Patient Will See You Now
  • Entertainment and Immersion: comedy in politics with VEEP star Julia Louis-Dreyfus
  • Fashion and Wearable Tech: retail innovation with Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman
  • Food and Experiential Diving: marriage of tech and food with Momofuku founder David Chang
  • Intelligent Future: opportunities for consumer robots with JIBO founder Cynthia Breazeal
  • Social and Privacy: extremist use of social media with J.M. Berger, co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror
  • Startup Village and Business: building a billion dollar business with The Honest Company founder Jessica Alba
  • SXsports: paving the way for female fighters with UFC Women’s Bantamanweight Champion Ronda Rousey
  • Work and Career: actionable tips for behavior change with Daniel Pink, author of Drive

2015 Video Content

2016 Featured Speakers from left to right: Jacquelline Fuller, Kerry Washington, Anthony Foxx, Esteban Contreras, Anthony Bourdain, Pete Cashmore, Tracy Chou, Maxine Williams.
2015 Featured Session with Bill Gurley and Malcolm Gladwell. Photo by Amanda Stronza