South By Southwest Has a New Investor
With 50% ownership in SXSW LLC, P-MRC provides “lifeline”
By Kevin Curtin,
9:22PM, Sun. Apr. 18, 2021
South by Southwest has partnered with P-MRC, a media venture that handles publishing operations for brands like Rolling Stone, Billboard, Variety, Vibe, and the Hollywood Reporter.
The partnership functions as a vital financial lifeline for the currently cash-strapped Austin organization, which has not held an in-person event since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SXSW co-founder and Managing Director Roland Swenson informed his staff of the deal on Sunday night and noted that, in it, SXSW retains control and management of the company.
P-MRC, minted in 2020, is a joint venture between the Beverly Hills-based MRC Media & Info and Penske Media, which is headquartered in New York City and Los Angeles.
“It’s been an incredibly tough period for small businesses, SXSW included,” Swenson said in an emailed statement. “When Jay Penske came to us with interest in becoming a partner, it was a true lifeline for us.
“While SXSW’s core business will retain its focus on the March event in Austin, this strategic investment also brings the exploration of new capabilities in providing quality programming to our diverse community of highly engaged creative professionals,” the statement continued.
P-MRC is now a 50% owner of SXSW, LLC. The Chronicle’s publisher, Nick Barbaro, is also a founding partner of SXSW.
The expanded business relationship is expected to give SXSW an opportunity to grow its digital audience.