Featured Speakers

Featured Speakers are innovators and creatives at the top of their industries sharing ideas, processes, and expertise in the hopes of inspiring a better world.

Featured Speaker: Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg – SXSW 2022 – Photo by Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW

Featured Speaker: Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg – SXSW 2022 – Photo by Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW

About Featured Speakers


Spanning the many tracks and themes of the SXSW Conference, Featured Speakers offer attendees the knowledge, leadership and inspiration to shape their professional careers and personal lives in our ever-evolving path forward.

Stay tuned for announcements throughout the season. In the meantime, take a took back at previous Featured Speaker sessions from our video archive below.

Join Us for SXSW 2023

Get ready to experience more opportunities for networking, learning, brainstorming, and career-enhancing connections than ever before at SXSW 2023 from March 10-19.

Featured Speakers 2023

  • Founder and Chief Creative Officer of CALLEN Craig Allen

  • CEO and Chief Futurist at Signal And Cipher Ian Beacraft

  • Wall Street Journal bestselling author of upcoming book The Future Normal: How We Will Live, Work and Thrive In The Next Decade and founder of the Non-Obvious Company and Ideapress Publishing Rohit Bhargava in conversation with co-author of The Future Normal: How We Will Live, Work and Thrive In The Next Decade Henry Coutinho-Mason

  • Chemist, science entertainer, and professor at The University of Texas Kate Biberdorf

  • CEO of Royal, world-renowned musician and producer known as 3LAU Justin Blau

  • Marketing Manager at Athletes First Bryan Burney

  • 25-year-old American journalist acclaimed as “the only honest man left in news” and host of YouTube’s leading street/gonzo journalism team, Channel 5 with Andrew Callaghan

  • Founder of Momofuku and Majordomo Media David Chang

  • Award-winning professor at the New York University Stern School of Business where she teaches MBA courses in leadership and management Dolly Chugh

  • An expert in spatial computing and digital worlds, Co-Founder and CEO of VNTANA Ashley Crowder

  • Founder of Sextech School and host of the Future of Sex podcast Bryony Cole in conversation with the Executive Creative Director at Josephmark Alex Naghavi

  • Filmmaker and second female director in the history of Cannes Film Festival to receive the Palme Julia Ducournau

  • Founder and President of Saysh and the most decorated Track & Field Olympian in history Allyson Felix in conversation with host of the No One Is Coming to Save Us podcast Gloria Riviera

  • Founder and managing partner of Genius Guild, founder of The Doonie Fund, founder and former CEO of digitalundivided, and Yale-trained epidemiologist Kathryn Finney

  • Author of the upcoming book Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People), Contributing Editor at the Harvard Business Review, and co-host of the Harvard Business Review’s Women at Work podcast Amy Gallo

  • Professor of Marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business and entrepreneur Scott Galloway

  • CEO of Patagonia Works and Patagonia, Inc. Ryan Gellert

  • Founder of the award-winning agency Friends With Holograms and content creator Cortney Harding

  • Environmentalist, scientist, entrepreneur, and the CEO and co-founder of Meati Foods Tyler Huggins

  • CEO of Indeed Chris Hyams

  • Co-founder and managing partner of Get Lifted Film Co., Emmy® and Tony® Award-winning film, theater, and television producer Mike Jackson

  • Renowned DJ, music producer, owner of acclaimed production company A Touch of Jazz, a DMC Championship, The PLAYLIST Retreat, and multiple GRAMMY Awards, American Music Awards, and NAACP Image Awards DJ Jazzy Jeff

  • Co-Founder & Chief Concept Officer of Sweetgreen Nicolas Jammet

  • Chief Executive Officer of Luminate Rob Jonas

  • Grammy-nominated recording artist and author of Maps for the Modern World Valerie June

  • Entrepreneur, activist and globally recognized expert in data protection, technology and legislative reform Brittany Kaiser

  • Founder and CEO of KORA Organic and internationally celebrated model Miranda Kerr

  • Chief Content Officer of WWE and developer of performance center/global localization strategy Paul “Triple H” Levesque

  • Founder of Starts With Us and KIND Snacks Daniel Lubetzky

  • Actor, director, writer, musician, art collector and humanitarian Cheech Marin

  • Author of New York Times bestseller The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together and designer of solutions to inequality in America Heather McGhee

  • Co-Chair and CEO of Warner Chappell Music Guy Moot

  • Chemist, documentarian, science journalist and director of the series Hamilton's Pharmacopeia Hamilton Morris

  • Professor of pharmacology at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, LA Charles Nichols

  • Founded the Heffter Research Institute (HRI) and Adjunct Professor at the University of North Carolina David E. Nichols

  • Peabody field builder winner and program director of ASU’s center for Emerging Media and Narrative Nonny de la Peña

  • New York Times bestselling author of The State of Affairs and Mating in Captivity Esther Perel

  • Texas Longhorns running back and projected 1st-round draft pick for the NFL Bijan Robinson

  • Former Chairman, President and CEO of IBM Ginni Rometty

  • Storyteller, journalist, and coach/mentor and currently the Head of Content at SutherlandGold, a PR agency, where she curates video stories for companies. Aditi Roy

  • James Beard Award-winning chef, writer, and Emmy Award-nominated host of Counter Space Sophia Roe

  • Author, professor, and host of the Team Human podcast Douglas Rushkoff with a new release Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires

  • Co-Founder and partner at Palo Santo Tim Schlidt

  • Inventor, entrepreneur and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup Boyan Slat

  • Mycologist, psychonaut, entrepreneur, author and inventor Paul Stamets

  • Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California and author of Short Circuiting Policy Leah Stokes

  • Editor-at-large of New York Magazine, host of On with Kara Swisher and co-host of the Pivot podcast Kara Swisher

  • Co-Founder and CEO of Ready Player Me Timmu Tõke

  • Director of the School of Advertising & Public Relations, Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin Natalie Tindall, Ph.D., APR

  • Author, professor, and co-founder and CEO of Aldora.io Joost Van Druenen

  • Quantitative futurist, author, and founder and CEO of the Future Today Institute Amy Webb

  • Software engineer, writer, and founder of the website Web3 is Going Just Great Molly White

  • Founder and CEO of Strangeworks, innovator in Residence for the Legatum Center at the Sloan School of Management at MIT, A Senior Member and Chairman of the Quantum Computing Standards Workgroup at the IEEE, and co-author of Quantum Computing For Babies whurley

  • A pioneer in the direct-to-consumer DNA testing space and powering an industry-first crowdsourcing approach to genetic research and drug development 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki

  • Director of Mental Health at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center and endowed Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience of Trauma Rachel Yehuda

Featured Sessions 2023


2050: Digital Identity is a Human Right
As we become more and more digital as a species, it’s critical that we don’t forget about our human rights. Something as simple as owning your identity becomes a complicated issue in the digital realm of the metaverse, web3, and web5. But in an interconnected digital world, how can we be sure that our Digital Identities won’t be data mined, duplicated, or stolen? In this session, join Senior Vice President at Unstoppable Domains Sandy Carter as she draws on her decades of experience being on the cutting edge to imagine a future where digital identity is seen as a human right.

An Imminent Shift In The Plant Based Ecosystem
Consumers are finding themselves at a long-awaited intersection: diets are shifting to prioritize nutrition and environmental impact at a time when food innovation is booming and new brands hoping to address consumer’s fluctuating priorities emerge daily on grocery shelves. However, when food culture drives buying decisions in a sea of indistinguishable plant-based options, how do emerging products bust the paradigm of what people can expect from alt-meat? Where will consumer behavior go and how will the industry keep up? In this session, join founder of Momofuku and Majordomo Media, James Beard Award-winning chef, host of The Dave Chang Show and Recipe Club podcasts, and New York Times bestselling author David Chang; co-founder and CEO of Meati Foods Tyler Huggins; co-founder, Chief Concept Officer of Sweetgreen Nicolas Jammet; and Head of Content at SutherlandGold and lecturer at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania Aditi Roy as they discuss this shift and what the implications are for buyers and the food industry, ending with a hands-on activation where attendees will experience and taste mushroom root.

Bijan Mustardson & the Future of NIL Partnerships
In 2022, creative agency CALLEN and Bijan Robinson launched the dijon mustard brand Bijan Mustardson, a partnership made possible by recent changes with NIL rules for college athletes. In this session, join founder and Chief Creative Officer of CALLEN Craig Allen, Marketing Manager at Athletes First Bryan Burney, running back for the Texas Longhorns Bijan Robinson, and Director of the School of Advertising and Public Relations, Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin Natalie Tindall, Ph.D., APR as they discuss how creative agencies can invest in more than a campaign and build a true business partnership for long-term success, developing a product and growing a brand with a celebrity business partner, and how to adapt to and anticipate where the NIL market is headed.

Build the Damn Thing with Kathryn Finney
Founder and Managing Partner of Genius Guild and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Kathryn Finney’s book, Build the Damn Thing: How to Start a Successful Business if You're Not a Rich White Guy, is a hard-won, battle-tested guide for every entrepreneur who the establishment has left out. In this session, join Finney for a conversation where she will share her storied career as an entrepreneur, inclusion champion, and investor who funds Black founders and women entrepreneurs in pursuit of their entrepreneurial dreams.

Building an Open Metaverse
As it stands today, a sole metaverse does not exist. What does exist are thousands of virtual worlds, many of which are connected through Ready Player Me’s network; an avatar system used by over 3,000 app and game developers. It is this interoperable network that has earned their reputation as a default avatar platform for the metaverse. In this session, join co-founder and CEO of Ready Player Me Timmu Tõke as he focuses on the importance of collaboration and building out partnerships in order to create an open metaverse and what brands need to do in order to make this happen.

Building a Sustainable Economy in the Metaverse
As the metaverse is being created, it is our responsibility to build a sustainable foundation. But, how sustainable is the journey to this virtual landscape? In this session, join co-founder and CEO of VNTANA Ashley Crowder, founder and CEO of Emblematic Group and Director of Arizona State University’s Narrative and Emerging Media program Nonny de la Peña, and founder of Friends With Holograms Cortney Harding, as they discuss what the metaverse is today and explore how to build an inclusive environment, drive a shared value for businesses and creators, empower consumers, and enable ways to measure impact to create digital sustainability.

Data Privacy After Roe v. Wade
The overturning of Roe v. Wade is a watershed moment for the privacy of people seeking reproductive care. A person’s browser history, search history, location, and private messages can now be used by law enforcement or private citizens to pursue people who are suspected of having or aiding an abortion. When people’s most private digital information can be used against them, can tech companies change their practices to better protect their users’ privacy? Plus, as some states try to outlaw websites that tell people how to access abortion care, can advocates ensure that reliable health information remains online? In this session, join co-founder of Supermajority, New York Times bestselling author, and former President and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Cecile Richards, President and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology Alexandra Reeve Givens, and CEO of The Markup Nabiha Syed for a discussion on ways advocates are working to protect users’ privacy and access to information at this critical moment for reproductive rights.

Design for a Better Future
In this session, dare to imagine a future where we can hack our bodies, make energy available to every human, create schools for lifelong learning, feed astronauts on their way to Mars, and make disabilities a thing of the past. Through unexpected designs and storytelling, co-founder and Owner of Nonfiction Mardis Bagley and Partner and Creative Director at Nonfiction Phnam Bagley will walk you through the possibilities of unbound imagination, and what it really takes to turn science fiction into reality.

The J Dilla Effect: Breaking Barriers Through Beats
James Yancey, aka “J Dilla,” is one of the greatest all-time hip-hop producers, a musical genius and visionary that inspired artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Pharrell Williams, Erykah Badu, and many others. Dilla made ultimate sacrifices to build opportunities for young, diverse creators to continue breaking down societal and cultural barriers. Curated by Save The Music, this session will feature founder and Chairman of the James Dewitt Yancey Foundation and J Dilla’s mother Ma Dukes and Grammy Award-winning DJ and music producer DJ Jazzy Jeff as they share personal stories of Dilla’s life and how his work changed hip-hop culture, while exploring how to carry on his legacy by investing in culturally rich communities to provide equitable resources for young creators to achieve economic stability and success through music and technology.

Own Your Data: Empowering Our Digital Future
In this session, co-founder of the Own Your Data Foundation and author Brittany Kaiser will explain how she decided to become a whistleblower to protect our human rights in the digital space and discuss the issues that Big Tech has presented us with (lack of transparency, uninformed consent, no tracking or traceability, monetization of our data without any value going to us, etc), as well as the solutions she believes are essential to making technology more ethical and congruent with rights protection.

Reigniting Fan Engagement at Live Events
The importance of community and human connection was more prevalent than ever when World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) returned with its biggest event of the year, WrestleMania, in April 2021. This historic event featured the first Black female Superstars to main event WrestleMania, celebrity appearances, live music performances, and the unveiling of WWE’s new signature, “Then, Now, Together, Forever.” to recognize and celebrate WWE fans, their community and the message of inclusivity. As WWE prepares to host WrestleMania 39 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles this coming April, Chief Content Officer of WWE Paul “Triple H” Levesque will discuss in this session the road to WrestleMania, the importance of the WWE Universe and how this community has evolved.

Resilience Tech Report 2023: The Neuroscience of Self-Renewal
Modern neuroscience tells us how we store and process information depends upon our emotional state, which easily triggers the "flight or fight" response. Technologies that are designed to empower our understanding of events at hand, as well as to respond quickly, ultimately depend upon our personal fortitude. In this session, join Chief Technology Officer of Everbridge John Maeda as he discusses inevitable failures and how the likelihood of either overcoming a calamity or getting overcome by it correlates to our confidence in self-renewal.

To Trip or Not to Trip
The psychedelic science torch is getting passed to the next generation, with fresh perspectives on both ancient and future medicines. In this session, join Writer and Director of Hamilton's Pharmacopeia, chemist, and science journalist Hamilton Morris, professor of Pharmacology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Charles Nichols, adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Professor Emeritus at the Purdue University College of Pharmacy David E. Nichols, co-founder and Partner at Palo Santo Tim Schlidt, and endowed professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience of Trauma and Director of the Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Director of Mental Health at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center Rachel Yehuda as they explore the future of psychedelic science and answer questions such as, can we take the “trip” out of psychedelics, do we want to, and will “next gen” psychedelic compounds have an advantage over today’s medicines?

Auntie Deb

SXSW 2022

"We will only change our future when we recognize what needs to be changed and when we say the words out loud."

Watch Now
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland speaks at 'Auntie Deb's Guide to Equity & Inclusion' – SXSW 2022 – Photo by Hutton Supancic/Getty Images for SXSW

Amy Webb

SXSW Online 2021

"Our goal is not predicting — it is preparing for what comes next."

Watch Now
Amy Webb - SXSW 2019 Featured Speaker - Photo by Mike Jordan

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

SXSW 2019

"I don’t think that our government is irredeemable. If I did, I wouldn’t have run for office."

Watch Now
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - 2019 - Photo by Adam Kissick

J.J. Abrams

SXSW 2016

"We want to see stories that are unique, that have points of view that might not be expected."

Watch Now
J.J. Abrams at SXSW 2016 – Photo by Judy Won

Stacey Abrams

SXSW 2019

"We have to stop allowing identity to be weaponized against us."

Watch Now
Stacey Abrams - Photo by Danny Matson

Anthony Bourdain

SXSW 2016

"Making TV should be fun. It should be a creative expression...Everybody should be pushing it and having a good day at work."

Watch Now
Anthony Bourdain - Photo by David Tait

Join Us

See You at SXSW 2023

Join us for innovative sessions, film & tv screenings, music showcases, and more at SXSW 2023 from March 10-19 in Austin, TX. Registration and housing are now open.

Learn More

Dive Into SXSW News

Browse the latest announcements, programming features, and important dates.

Read On

Explore the SXSW Conference

Conference Sponsors

White Claw logo
Porsche logo
Itau logo
Austin Chronicle logo

Stay Tuned

Sign up to receive the latest announcements, tips, networking invitations and more.