“It’s been an incredibly tough period for small businesses, SXSW included. When Jay Penske came to us with interest in becoming a partner, it was a true lifeline for us," said Roland Swenson, SXSW CEO and co-founder, in a statement.
The sale follows the cancellation of SXSW in 2020 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, a move which came at a steep cost to both SXSW and Austin businesses: according to an economic analysis, the 2019 conference and festivals had an estimated $355.9 million impact on the local economy. SXSW also had to lay off around a third of its full-time staff following the cancellation.
SXSW held virtual events this year and has announced plans for an in-person conference and festivals in 2022, to be held March 11-20.
"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," Swenson said.