Featured Speakers

Looking for mind-expanding presentations by industry leaders? SXSW Conference Featured Speakers bring together some of the biggest and brightest names of our time.

Featured Speakers

J.J. Abrams and Andrew Jarecki's featured session "The Eyes of Robots and Murderers" at SXSW 2016. Photo by Andy Nietupski.

About Featured Speakers


SXSW Conference speakers come from all over the globe. When you attend the many workshops, conversations, and panels at the event, expect to hear from technology industry experts, filmmakers, artists, music supervisors, actors, publicists, legends, journalists, and much, much more.

Across the various themes and trends at SXSW, Featured Speaker sessions present a snapshot of the most transformative ideas shaping our future.

Explore our lineup of recently announced 2017 Featured Speakers and first Featured Session below and in our announcement blogs: First Round | Second Round.

Stay tuned to SXSW News for more announcements throughout the season.

2017 Featured Speaker Lineup


Featured Speaker sessions bring together some of the biggest and brightest names of our time for mind-expanding presentations. Learn more about our 2017 lineup of confirmed speakers below.

Amber Venz Box (Style Track) – Co-Founder and President of rewardStyle and the cross-channel consumer shopping service, LIKEtoKNOW.it.

Kate Crawford (Intelligent Future Track) – Leading researcher, academic, and author who works on the social implications of data, machine learning, and AI. In 2016, she co-chaired the White House symposium AI Now, and wrote about AI and discrimination in The New York Times.

Bill Ford & Doug Newcomb (Intelligent Future Track) – As Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company, William Clay Ford Jr. is leading the company that put the world on wheels into the 21st century. He joined the Board of Directors in 1988 and has been its chairman since January 1999. In August, Ford Motor Company announced plans to mass produce a line of self-driving vehicles by 2021. Ford will be in conversation with C3 Group President and Co-founder Doug Newcomb, a respected journalist who has covered automotive technology for nearly three decades (Forbes, Wired, Popular Mechanics, Automotive, etc. ) and is a leading authority on connected car and mobility.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs (Entertainment Influencers Track) – President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences serving her fourth term. She has represented the Public Relations Branch as a governor for 24 years. She produced the Academy’s 2012 4th Annual Governors Awards.

Mary Lou Jepsen (Health Track) – Founder and Chairman of Openwater, whose goal is MRI resolution imaging in a wearable, previously co-founded One Laptop per Child and held executive roles at Facebook, Oculus, Intel, and Google [x].

Earvin “Magic” Johnson (Sports Track) – NBA legend, professional sports team owner, entrepreneur, philanthropist, motivational speaker and Chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises.

Parag Khanna – (Intelligent Future Track) Leading global strategist, world traveler, and best-selling author. He is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

Dan Lyons (Tech Industry Track) – Author of the New York Times best-seller, Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble, and a former writer on HBO’s Silicon Valley.

Candice Morgan (Workplace Track) – Head of Diversity at Pinterest, leading strategy and programs to enhance diversity and inclusion.

Kimbal Musk (Food Track) – On the boards of Chipotle, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX. His personal mission is to strengthen communities through food. Musk is a cofounder of The Kitchen, a growing family of restaurants that sources directly from local farmers.

Peggy Orenstein (Social Impact Track) – Author of The New York Times best-sellers Girls & Sex, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, and Waiting for Daisy among others. She has written for dozens of prestigious magazines and newspapers, with her articles anthologies many times.

Randall Poster (Making Film & Episodics Track) – Renowned music supervisor, perhaps best known for his long-term collaboration with director Wes Anderson, as well as directors including Harmony Korine, Todd Haynes, Richard Linklater, Todd Phillips, Martin Scorsese, and Sam Mendes.

Vivek Ranadivé (Sports Track) – Entrepreneur, technology visionary, The New York Times best-selling author and philanthropist, Ranadivé is recognized for his outside-the-box thinking. He is the owner and chairman of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

Rachael Ray (Music Influencers Track) – Television host, best-selling author and Austin enthusiast, Rachael Ray, has hosted two annual Feedback food and music events in Austin during SXSW for the last 9 years which have played host to the likes of The Districts, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Shovels & Rope, JEFF The Brotherhood, Blondie, Raekwon, and over 150 others.

Adam Savage – Internationally renowned television producer, host, maker and public speaker.

Nadya Tolokonnikova (Music Influencers Track) – Russian conceptual artist, political activist and member of punk rock group Pussy Riot.

Ingrid Vanderveldt (Startup Village Track) – Self-made businesswoman, investor and media personality, Founder & CEO of Empowering a Billion Women by 2020.

Gary Vaynerchuk (Tech Industry Track) – Entrepreneur, investor, four-time New York Times best-selling author, and CEO of VaynerMedia.

All speakers subject to change.

2017 Featured Sessions


These high-profile sessions spotlight key people and trends germane to the SXSW community.

Product Mavericks: Top Tips From Women Who Build” – From leading video on Facebook to the CTO for the first woman presidential candidate, there’s no question that there are a group of female leaders taking over in the space of product development and they’ve without a doubt made it to the top. Hear from the women who are defying the numbers, building the products we’re all using each and every day, and are both figuratively and physically shaping our future. Speakers include Fidji Simo (Facebook), Tali Rapaport (Lyft), Stephanie Hannon (Hillary for America), and Merci Grace (Slack).

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Explore SXSW Conference Tracks

The SXSW Conference provides an opportunity for global professionals at every level to participate, learn, and network. Each track allows attendees to explore what’s next in the worlds of entertainment, culture, and technology.

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