March 7, 2019updated 08 Mar 2019 2:14pm

South by Southwest 2019: 23 must-see SXSW tech talks

By Luke Christou

South by Southwest 2019 will attract some of the biggest names in entertainment, business, politics, media and technology to Austin, Texas over the next week, where the next generation of creatives will be given valuable lessons on entrepreneurship and innovation.

With technology in the process of reshaping just about every industry, emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality and robotics will lead discussions.

With thousands of talks taking place throughout the week, Verdict has picked out 23 of the best SXSW tech talks on the schedule, featuring industry experts from companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and IBM.


Instagram Founders Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger with Josh Constine

Not to be missed, Instagram founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom will sit down with TechCrunch’s Josh Constine for their first on-stage appearance since leaving Facebook. The pair will discuss the creation of their photo-sharing platform, influencers and the need for safe communities on social networks.

Speakers: Mike Krieger (Instagram), Kevin Systrom (Instagram)

Date & time: 11 March, 2pm

Venue: Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D

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Blockchain & Cryptocurrency 

Blockchain Beyond the Hype: The Ripple Effect

The inventor of Ripple network talks cryptography, distributed ledgers and how blockchain technology is reshaping the global economic system.

Speakers: David Schwartz (Ripple), Sara Silverstein (Business Insider)

Date & time: March 14, 12:30pm

Venue: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon H

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Crypto Crime: How to Steal Cryptocurrency

This session digs into the false perception of cryptocurrencies as something secure, despite the numerous cypto-thefts and exit scams pulled by exchanges. A live hacking demo will take place to prove just how it is to breach a crypto wallet.

Speakers: Rob Pope (Dogtown Media)

Date & time: 15 March, 5pm

Venue: Holton Austin Downtown, Salon K

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The Next Killer Application on Blockchain

With Bitcoin’s hype having died down, and Ethereum having helped to halt the slump momentarily, what will be the next application to boost the blockchain market?

Speakers: Julian Hosp (iUnlimited)

Date & time: 16 March, 2pm

Venue: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon K

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Coding & Development –

Accelerated Introduction to Machine Learning

Learning something as complex as artificial intelligence takes time, but a selection of AI experiences will leverage their experience to provide an accelerated introduction to the disruptive technology.

Speakers: Jay Boisseau (Dell EMC), Ganesh Padmanabhan (CognitiveScale), Elisa Sepulveda (Galvanize), Lucas Wilson (Dell EMC)

Date & time:  12 March, 9:30am

Venue: Westin Austin Downtown Continental 2

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MindCraft: Controlling Drones With Your Mind

Learn how you can fly a drone with your mind using Brain-Computer Interface devices.

Speakers: Jon Gear (JDK Technologies)

Date & time: 9 March, 3:30pm

Venue: Westin Austin Downtown Continental 3

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Entrepreneurship & Startups –

Beyond the Surveillance Business Model

With the public becoming more aware of data privacy and the risks that come with oversharing, businesses must begin to look beyond the current model of tracking and selling data to get by.

Speakers: Gabriel Weinberg (DuckDuckGo), Cindy Cohn (Electronic Frontier Foundation), Nicole Ozer (ACLU of Northern California), Brad Stone (Bloomberg Technology)

Date & time: 9 March, 9:30am

Venue: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon J

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Connected World 2025: How Can You Plug In Now?

With the Internet of Things taking over the world, what new markets and businesses can we expect to see emerge over the next decade, and where is there money to be made?

Speakers: Pascale Dianne (Storm Ventures), Alastair Goldfisher (Venture Capital Journal), Julia Schottenstein (NEA), Kristina Serafim (Verizon Ventures)

Date & time: 12 March, 9:30am

Venue: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon D

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VCs Reality Check for AI Hype

With AI hype outdoing AI adoption, this session will discuss what artificial intelligence companies should be working on to grab the attention of venture capitalists.

Speakers: David Blumberg (Blumberg Capital), Alastair Goldfisher (Venture Capital Journal), Aaron Jacobson (NEA), Kristina Serafim (Verizon Ventures)

Date & time: 12 March, 12:30pm

Venue: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon K

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Future Workplace –

Robots and Machine Learning: Perils and Promise

Representatives of the US government will discuss the safe development of artificial intelligence and how to develop industry principles that help to empower industries and workers in an increasingly automated world.

Speakers: Michael Kratsios (White House), Svetlana Matt (US House of Representatives), Lynne Parker (White House), Bari Williams (All Turtles)

Date & time: 12 March, 9:30am

Venue: La Condesa

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AI and the Democratization of Work

With employers still reliant on place of study or work experience to evaluate a job applicant, this session will explore whether artificial intelligence can be a better judge, evaluating all candidates equally regardless of their socioeconomic background.

Speakers: Jacob Hsu (Catalyte), Myra Norton (Arena), Jason Oxman (Information Technology Industry Council), Suzy Ryoo (Cross Culture Ventures)

Date & time: 9 March, 5pm

Venue: JW Marriott, Room 203-204

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Health & MedTech 

Hope After Trauma: Designing VR for Amputees

This session explores the potential for virtual reality to bring hope, emotional healing support to amputees and those with mobility and independency conditions.

Speakers: Krisita Burket (Hanger), Cameron Clapp (Hanger Clinic), Pedro Pimenta (Hanger Clinic), John Sommer (Mutual Mobile)

Date & time: 12 March, 9:30am

Venue: JW Marriott, Salon FG

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Using Data Analytics to Combat the Opioid Crisis

Amid the ongoing prescription medication epidemic, this session will explore whether making use of healthcare data could held to avoid 40,000 deaths caused by opioid overdose each year.

Speakers: Lynsie Daley (Intermountain Healthcare), John Savage (Colorado Hospital Association), Mona Siddiqui (Department of Health and Human Services), Dean Stoecker (Alteryx)

Date & time: 10 March, 12:30pm

Venue: JW Marriott, Salon FG

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Intelligent Future –

Prioritizing Play in an Automated Age

Famed IBM engineer John Cohn discusses why experimentation, failure, challenge, adventure and fun are vital to success.

Speakers: John Cohn (IBM Corporation)

Date & time: 9 March, 11am

Venue: Fairmont Manchester EFG

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How to Build a Brighter AI Future

Google’s Chief Decision Scientist explains what it takes to unlock the true potential of machine learning and artificial intelligence in business.

Speakers: Cassie Kozyrkov (Google)

Date & time: 10 March, 11am

Venue: Fairmont Manchester EFG

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AI: The Silver Bullet Against Disinformation?

Representatives from the European Commission, Princeton University and Facebook discuss what role AI could play in the fight against fake news and disinformation.

Speakers: Giuseppe Abbamonte (European Commission), Annie Klomhaus (New Knowledge), Gianni Riotta (Princeton University), Shaarik Zafar (Facebook)

Date & time: 9 March, 3:30pm

Venue: Palm Door on Sixth

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Tech Industry & Enterprise –

Tired of the Self-Driving Car Rhetoric? Truck That

The focus is on self-driving cars, but could self-driving trucks provide society with more immediate benefits? With Google, Uber and Tesla all toying with the idea, this panel will discuss how technology could transform trucking.

Speakers: Carla Bailo (Center for Automotive Research), Tim Higgins (The Wall Street Journal), Christoph Schroeder (Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America), Kay Stepper (Bosch)

Date & time: 13 March, 2pm

Venue: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon F

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How Women are Rebuilding a Man-Made Internet

This session looks at how women are shaking up a traditionally male industry with female-focused digital platforms and spaces that consider women’s needs.

Speakers: Andrea Barrica (, Greta Mcanany (Blue Fever), Lauren Tracy (Blue Fever), Alex Williamson (Bumble)

Date & time: 9 March, 3:30pm

Venue: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon G

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Dear Gov’t: Regulate Us! Sincerely, AI Industry

This session explores how regulation could benefit the AI industry, helping to ensure that development doesn’t get out of hand (think killer robots) and automation benefits all.

Speakers: Jean-Francois Gagne (Element AI)

Date & time: 9 March, 9:30am

Venue: Hilton Austin Downtown, salon F

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3, 2, 1: Blast Off! Building Spacecraft with AR

If it’s fun you’re after, spend your time at SXSW learning how to build spaceships with augmented reality. This session will explore how Scope AR and Microsoft HoloLens are being used to construct and improve spacecrafts.

Speakers: Tom Emrich (Super Ventures), Eric Kamont (Microsoft), Scot Montgomerie (Scope AR), Shelley Peterson (Lockheed Martin)

Date & time: 13 March, 11am

Venue: JW Marriott, salon 3-4

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The Future of Augmented Reality in Sports

Improving the sports fan experience is regularly cited as a potential use case for mixed reality technology. This session will look at how augmented reality is turning sports stadiums into “giant, interactive gaming consoles”.

Speakers: Noa Davidson (Coca-Cola), Charlie Fink (N/A), Alex Hertel (Xperiel), Ryan Montoya (Sacramento Kings)

Date & time: 11 March, 12:30pm

Venue: JW Marriott, Salon 3-4

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How the Future of VR & AR Will Be Unleashed Through Blockchain

What role could blockchain play in the future of mixed reality technology? In an immersive future, like something out of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, blockchain could help to provide trust. AR, VR and blockchain experts discuss.

Speakers: Vanessa Kincaid (Littlstar), Cindy Mallory (Motivf), Ari Meilich (decentraland), Gordon Meyer (EngineBloc)

Date & time: 13 March, 3:30pm

Venue: JW Marriott, Salon 1-2

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Want more? Browse the full South by Southwest 2019 schedule here


Verdict deals analysis methodology

This analysis considers only announced and completed cross border deals from the GlobalData financial deals database and excludes all terminated and rumoured deals. Country and industry are defined according to the headquarters and dominant industry of the target firm. The term ‘acquisition’ refers to both completed deals and those in the bidding stage.

GlobalData tracks real-time data concerning all merger and acquisition, private equity/venture capital and asset transaction activity around the world from thousands of company websites and other reliable sources.

More in-depth reports and analysis on all reported deals are available for subscribers to GlobalData’s deals database.

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