SXSWi has long been important to the technology industry, yet the L.A. tech community has traditionally had a limited presence in Austin.
Take, for instance, Cornerstone OnDemand. The talent management software company has become arguably one of the most successful tech companies in Los Angeles since it went public in 2011. But the nearly 14-year-old company has never participated at SXSWi.
So what changed this year?
“This year really made the most sense to us because there was an actual event celebrating L.A. technology,” said Michelle Haworth, director of marketing communications for Cornerstone. “As a local success story, it made sense for us to be here. And we wanted to support the other companies that are growing in the area.”
Few of the companies that presented at the Silicon Beach showcase event, Sunday Funday, were promoting new products or features. Instead, most of them were there to support the growth of the L.A. tech community.
“Everybody keeps talking about Silicon Beach and asks, ‘Who are we?’” said Haworth. “But I think when you get people together this way, it helps to define the unique companies starting in Los Angeles.”
L.A. tech had a presence at a number of other SXSWi events around Austin. Elon Musk, chief executive of SpaceX in Hawthorne, gave a keynote address to a packed house, where he discussed his company’s recent rocket launch.
Younity, a cloud storage startup that graduated from the MuckerLab accelerator program earlier this year, participated in the SXSW Accelerator competition, which pitted companies against each other in various categories as they presented to a panel of judges.
Chris Valentine, who produces the Accelerator event for SXSW, said Younity was one of a number of L.A. companies that applied to be part of the accelerator program.
“We’re seeing more and more of a presence from the Los Angeles area,” he said. “I want that number to continue to grow. There’s a lot happening in the community. There’s this active startup scene that seems to be getting hotter and hotter.”