SXSW Adds Jason Isbell, Michael Dell and More to Speaker List

Tech scene and politics get speaker slots, plus WTF is Web3?

Jason Isbell at Old Settlers Music Festival in 2019. The musician has been added to the list of this year's SXSW speakers today. (Photo by Jana Birchum)

With only seven weeks before it makes its in-person return, SXSW's speaker list gets longer today with the announcement of a host of names including Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla, and European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager.

The schedule additions follow October's first round of speakers, which included 160 sessions, plus the announcement of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson as the first keynote.

Today's announcement is heavy on the tech side of things, with familiar figures like Dell Technologies founder Michael Dell. However, there are also a lot of names from the music side of the festival, including Record Store Day co-founder Carrie Coliliton, and two SXSW Music veterans: musician and activist Jason Isbell and legendary producer Nile Rodgers.

But the announcements for the festival (running March 11-20) stretch across all 15 of the programming tracks. Isbell, who has been open on his addiction issues, will be appearing with Wes Hurt, founder of Austin-based CLEAN Cause, a beverage company committed to helping people in recovery. At least one of the panels about Web3 and the metaverse will hopefully explain what either of those things is, while futurists will Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx co-owner Marc Lore will be discussing his grand plan to build a utopian city called Telosa (although we liked it when Walt Disney had the same idea and called it EPCOT).

"We're excited to announce an incredible group of experts and innovators across the technology, healthcare, and entertainment industries, who are actively shaping the world we live in," said Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer. "Entrepreneurial luminaries such as Michael Dell, and industry disruptors like Margrethe Vestager only add to our already robust lineup of creative visionaries working to build a better future."

Here are the big names added in today's list:

• Icon cofounder and CEO Jason Ballard
• Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla
• Breyer Capital CEO Jim Breyer
• Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell
• LTK cofounder Amber Venz Box
• Artist, urbanist, director, and brand consultant Dario Calmese
• University of Texas at Austin psychology professor Kathryn Paige Harden
• Grammy Award-Winning singer/songwriter Jason Isbell
• A&E Investigates and ABC News award-winning anchor Elizabeth Vargas
• CLEAN Cause founder Wes Hurt
• Huntington, West Virginia Director of the Mayor's Council on Public Health and Drug Control Policy Jan Rader
• Colossal Biosciences founder and CEO Ben Lamm and head of biological sciences Eriona Hysolli
• Producer, Songwriter, and Philanthropist Linda Perry
• Warner Records SVP of A&R / TheBasement Series CEO Ericka J. Coulter
• VANS Director of Global Music Marketing Tierney Stout
• Record Store Day co-founder Carrie Coliliton
• Robinhood Markets CEO Vlad Tenev
• European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager

In addition to the new speakers, there are several newly-announced Featured Sessions, including:

Chasing Moonshots & Bringing the Future to Today with Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx co-owner Marc Lore and Business Casual podcast cohost Nora Ali.

Design Leadership: Creativity Driving Business with IBM General Manager of Design Katrina Alcorn, Tech Talk | Studio CEO Christie Dames, and D-Ford Lab Director Sandy Fershee.

The Future of The Data Economy: Putting People First with Big Technology founder Alex Kantrowitz and Block (formerly Square) cofounder Jim McKelvey.

Guerrilla Tactics & Asymmetric Political Activism with Gravel Institute CFO Henry Magowan and co-executive director Henry Williams, documentary filmmaker Skye Wallin, former Democratic candidate for president of the United States Marianne Williamson.

Reimagining Exploration with National Geographic Society CEO Dr. Jill Tiefenthaler.

Web3, NFT, Metaverse! 3 Easy Steps To Get Started with Unstoppable Domains SVP Sandy Carter.

What’s Your Life's Soundtrack? with Hipgnosis Song Management CEO and founder Merck Mercuriadis and GRAMMY-winning composer, producer, arranger and guitarist Nile Rodgers.

What's in A Metaverse? with Epyllion CEO Matthew Ball, Epic Games’ Unreal Engine Head of Brands & Advertisers Solutions Raffaella Camera, CEO of High Fidelity CEO Philip Rosedale, and tech columnist Charlie Fink.


SXSW 2022, March 11-20. Badges and info at sxsw.com.

And keep up with all our SXSW news, reviews, announcements and interviews (plus our unbelievably extensive archive) at austinchronicle.com/sxsw.

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