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.

Explore 2023 Featured Speakers and Featured Sessions below and stay tuned for more announcements throughout the season.

Dive into the SXSW Schedule for all confirmed programming including Keynotes & Featured Speakers and Sessions.

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

  • Senior Media Analyst at Variety Intelligence Platform Gavin Bridge in conversation with Media Analyst and Correspondent for Variety Intelligence Platform Heidi Chung and President and Chief Media Analyst of Variety Intelligence Platform Andrew Wallenstein

  • Marketing Manager at Athletes First Bryan Burney

  • Founder and Host of the Voices of VR podcast Kent Bye

  • 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

  • Actors Guillermo Diaz and Katie Lowes, stars of the hit ABC series Scandal discuss their new Shondaland Audio and iHeartPodcasts rewatch podcast Unpacking the Toolbox. The co-hosts will share behind the scenes stories and fun facts about the series’ most memorable moments.

  • Actress, writer, director, producer and founder and Creative Director of CURRAN Tommy Dorfman

  • 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

  • Creator and host of the podcast Crime Junkie and founder and CEO of audiochuck Ashley Flowers in conversation with President of audiochuck Kevin Mills

  • 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

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

  • Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services Adrienne A. Harris in conversation with President and CEO of PayPal Dan Schulman

  • Writer and co-Executive Producer of the The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon Tara Hernandez in conversation with Primetime Emmy Award-winning creator, writer, Executive Producer and Showrunner of Lost and Watchmen Damon Lindelof about their careers and collaborating on their upcoming Peacock series, Mrs. Davis.

  • 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

  • New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and co-founder and Senior Maverick at Wired Kevin Kelly

  • 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

  • Emmy-nominated director, producer, actress, entrepreneur and activist Eva Longoria

  • 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

  • Grammy-award winning rapper, businessman and activist Killer Mike

  • 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

  • Seven Seven Six Founder and former Executive Chair of Reddit Alexis Ohanian in conversation with Program Director for the 776 Foundation and Fellowship Program Lissie Garvin, activist, eco-entrepreneur and founder of Upenndo! Productions Maya Penn, and co-founder and CTO of Hydrova Inc Rostam Reifschneider

  • 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

  • Activist, filmmaker, and musician Boots Riley

  • 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

  • Record producer, director, screenwriter, rapper, and composer RZA

  • Co-Founder and partner at Palo Santo Tim Schlidt

  • Author of the national bestseller The Light We Give: How Sikh Wisdom Can Transform Your Life and Executive Director of the Religion & Society Program at the Aspen Institute Simran Jeet Singh

  • 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

  • Best-selling author Cheryl Strayed (Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail) talks about the adaptation of her bestselling book Tiny Beautiful Things with Creator, Executive Producer and Showrunner Liz Tigelaar who is adapting the book for a Hulu Original Series, produced by ABC Signature.

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

  • CEO of Kickstarter Everette Taylor

  • 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

  • Founder and CEO of Chobani Hamdi Ulukaya

  • 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

  • COO of Reddit Jen Wong

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

Browse SXSW Schedule

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.

Autonomous Driving: More Time to Do What You Love
The future of mobility will be electric, autonomous, entertaining and above all: exciting. There is a paradigm shift happening as the automotive industry transitions gradually to a safe autonomous driving future and a new sense of freedom is coming for both drivers and passengers sooner than you might think. In this session, join founder and CEO of ZYNC Rana June, founder and CEO of Luminar Austin Russell and Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG and CTO Markus Schäfer as they discuss how the software-defined car, autonomous technology and embedded entertainment content aim to give you back your most valuable resource - TIME - and how this lets you experience your car like never before.

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.

Creating Happiness: The Art & Science of Disney Parks Storytelling For nearly 70 years, Disney Parks has created happiness for millions through experiences that bring Disney’s beloved stories to life. Across its theme parks, hotels, cruises and adventures, Disney Parks has curated magical places around the world where a simple moment can become a treasured lifelong memory. The ‘Art & Science’ of storytelling is the secret to how Disney amazes its Guests and delivers memorable experiences.  In this session, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro will share how Disney’s storytelling techniques will build on its legacy of creativity and innovation for a world that can always use just a little more happiness.

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.

Crushing: The Burden of Diabetes on Patients
1 in 10 Americans live with diabetes, making millions of tiny decisions to keep themselves alive. For the most resourced patients in America, the burden of diabetes still looms large over their heads–so what does that mean for patients without access to the best of the best in tools and treatments? In this session, join Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod, singer, songwriter, actor and member of the Grammy Award-nominated band Jonas Brothers Nick Jonas, Executive Vice President and COO of Dexcom Jake Leach and the Pastor of the Pattison United Methodist Church in Pattison, TX, Rev. Mireya Martínez as they share their perspectives that span the diabetic ecosystem to answer the question: are we doing enough?

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.

Don’t be a Drag, Just be a Queen
2022 saw a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced across the country, and we’ve already seen one Texas lawmaker announce that he will introduce a bill to ban youth from attending drag shows next year. The heated political discourse has led to threats against Pride celebrations and drag shows around the world. We know these debates are negatively impacting LGBTQ youth — and that access to affirming spaces and representation is crucial to mental health. In this session, join drag queen, makeup artist, author and trans rights activist Gottmik, drag queen Jaida Essence Hall, attorney, activist, Adjunct Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law and Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project Preston Mitchum and drag queen and model Symone as they discuss drag’s historical roots and cultural significance today, why promoting self-expression is so important, and how we can all help create a more accepting world.

Have a Good Trip: Psychedelics in Film and TV
Psychedelics are easy to stigmatize and criminalize. Case Study: the last 50 years. Enter GOOD TRIP STUDIOS, the psychedelic company with a mission to destigmatize psychedelics through entertainment and pop culture. Their movie Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics was an official 2020 SXSW selection and launched as the #1 Netflix movie worldwide accumulating tens of millions of views in the first month. The documentary features A-list celebrities and artists discussing their personal psychedelic experiences and helped spark the current psychedelic renaissance. In this session, join comedian, actor and Creator and Host of The Eric Andre Show Eric André, Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and director Donick Cary (Have a Good Trip, The Simpsons), Global Impact Officer at MAPS (the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) Natalie Ginsberg and Executive Producer and Showrunner of The Eric Andre Show Mike Rosenstein as they discuss how psychedelics are portrayed in media and how they have inspired artists and pop culture. They will also share exclusive clips and stories from other planets!

How Music, Entrepreneurship & Independence Intersect
How can artists build careers off their music, own their intellectual property, and transcend into new ventures to build a multi-faceted company? Just ask the team behind EVGLE, a company that brings all verticals in-house spanning records, publishing, media, fashion and ventures. In this session, hear from Billboard R&B / Hip-Hop Rookie of the Year and multi-platinum artist, producer and co-founder and CEO of EVGLE Blxst, co-founder and President of EVGLE Victor Burnett, co-founder and COO of EVGLE Karl Fowlkes and R&B/Hip Hop Reporter at Billboard Heran Mamo on how to take the necessary steps to build a successful entertainment company that transcends cultural boundaries.

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?

Voting is a Civil Rights Issue
American elections and democracy continue to be attacked in a ploy to justify rolling back civil liberties and voting rights when we should be expanding those rights and making it easier for everyone to participate in the democratic process. In this session, join Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, President of the Drum Major Institute Arndrea Waters King, Chairman of the Board of the Drum Major Institute Martin Luther King III, civil rights leader Ralph G. Neas and founder and CEO of Tusk Philanthropies and the Mobile Voting Project Bradley Tusk as they share their insight into how we can expand access to voting for marginalized groups.

Browse SXSW Schedule

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."

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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."

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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."

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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."

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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."

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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."

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Anthony Bourdain - Photo by David Tait

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