SXSW- technology summit or bro party-down?

This year, Friskies is bringing internet darling Grumpy Cat to SXSW, in a fairly civil attempt at meme-jacking.

Along with dozens of other brands that have nothing to do with music or film or interactive technology, Friskies will be putting their brand in front of influencers in hope of an endorsing tweet or Like.MEME-Grumpy-Cat-vs.-Facebook

Of course, the festival’s 27th iteration also features lots of hot bands, film screenings and talks by tech bigwigs.

The relentless schedule of events, shows, and parties means most attendees I know come back with the SXSW Flu, a combination of con crud and alcohol poisoning that requires a week of “working from home” recovery.

Despite the grueling nature of the event, SXSW attendance is mandatory for many people in the technology sphere.

SXSW’s Startup Village provides a huge population of technoscenti, neo-digerati, checkbooks (AKA investors) and baller SEO dudes at their most accessible, i.e. while they’re wandering hotel corridors on molly.

Companies in the “Startup Spotlight” include Hater, an “app that allows you to share the things you hate”, and a session called “GEEKSTA PARADISE:The Ballers of Uber, Airbnb + GitHub“. A delirious greed reminiscent of happy hour at Elroy’s in 1998 will be in the air, along with sleep-under-your-desk ambition and the smell of Red Bull.

And like it or not, this locust-swarm of twenty-somethings and those who hope to profit from twenty-something energy and innovation will affect your business.

Foursquare launched at SXSW in 2009; last year’s breakout technology was social discovery apps. In keynotes, Elon Musk is being interviewed by ex-Wired Editor in Chief Chris Anderson, Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman is presenting, and Al Gore is talking about the future. Kim Dotcom will present via Skype, Spotify’s Daniel Ek is doing a session, and Bruce Sterling is giving the closing remarks.

SXSW is a perfect storm of innovators, influencers, entrepreneurs and famous people whose tweets are retweeted.

Whether the technology and insights presented have merit or not, they will be shared around the world at the speed of “Like”. So it behooves business owners to follow the SXSW news, parsing out the notable from the drunken Foursquare checkins and Instagrams of tacos. The best app ever to sell your product may launch this week.

This post originally appeared on the T324 blog.

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