The Austin Chronicle

Hey, SXSW, How You Doin'?

By Richard Whittaker, November 9, 2017, 10:00am, SXSW

SXSW has never shied away from controversy, and today's latest round of speakers carries one of the most divisive figures to be added to the roster: Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire famous for killing Gawker. That's not the only surprise, because today's wave of speakers stretches from tech to daytime TV favorites.

Hot on the heels that London Mayor Sadiq Khan joins filmmakers Darren Aronofsky and Barry Jenkins, author and activist Ta-Nehisi Coates, psychotherapist Esther Perel​, and Chaotic Moon founder whurley as a keynote speaker, today's list may be the biggest so far for SXSW 2018.

In total, it adds 27 speakers on top of two previous rounds, and many more to come, split across the 24 themes and threads to which attendees will have access.

Sports fans will be thrilled to see none other than A-Rod himself, Alex Rodriguez, discussing his new show for CNBC Back in the Game. Similarly music fans get to hear the words behind the music from underground trendsetters like Austin regular Ted Leo, DC scene legend Molly Neuman, and the man that defined the modern New York hip-hop sound, Young Guru. Plus daytime TV aficionados will get to ask the inimitable Wendy Williams "how you doin?" when she discusses the growing influence of women in the entertainment and music industries.

And, of course, it's not SXSW without those essential closing words from author Bruce Sterling.

Here's today's full list of added speakers:


• Chef and globetrotting gourmand Andrew Zimmern, best known as the four-time James Beard Award-winning host of Bizarre Foods and Driven By Food, his exploration of the real meaning of food


• Mercedes-Benz brand ambassador Guy Kawasaki and Symone Sanders, political strategist and press secretary for Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign

Ezra Klein, editor-at-large and co-founder of Vox

Intelligent Future

• Tech blogger Loic Le Meur, Siri Inc. co-founder Adam Cheyer, Stanford researcher Daphne Koller, and futurologist Nell Watson

Making Film & Episodics

• Oscar-nominated cinematographer Matthew Libatique (Black Swan, Iron Man) and camera expert Snehal Patel

Music Culture & Stories

Wendy Williams, media entrepreneur and the Daytime Emmy-nominated host of The Wendy Williams Show

Music Industry

Daniel Glass, founder of full service independent label Glassnote Entertainment Group

Young Guru, Jay Z's producer and co-founder of art/tech fusion Era of the Engineer

• Alt-rock icon Ted Leo and longtime Beastie Boys collaborator/producer Money Mark in conversation with Riot Grrl mainstay Molly Neuman


News and Journalism

Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent

• Former PayPal CEO Peter Thiel, in conversation with Ryan Holiday, author of Trust Me, I'm Lying

Social Impact

• Multi-credited podcaster and online video star Dylan Marron (Welcome to Night Vale, Sitting in Bathrooms with Trans People, Shutting Down Bullsh*t)


• Former New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez in conversation with CNBC Chairman Mark Hoffman

Startup & Tech Sectors

Brian Behlendorf, primary developer of the pivotal Apache Web server, and board member of the Mozilla Foundation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Kirsten Green, founder of Forerunner Ventures

• Former Time Magazine editor and biographer Walter Isaacson

• SXSW fixture and father of cyberpunk Bruce Sterling

• Angel investor Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia and host of #AskGaryVee and #DailyVee on YouTube


Miguel McKelvey, co-founder and Chief Culture Officer of WeWork

SXSW 2018 runs Fri., March 9, to Sun., March 18, 2018. For badges and info, visit

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