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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made headlines this year as one of the first big names to pull out of the now-canceled SXSW 2020 — due to the spread of Coronavirus. With the hallways of the Austin Convention Center empty this week, there’s plenty of time to reminisce about SXSW 2007.

It’s often said Twitter made its debut at the 2007 festival, but the micro-messaging platform actually launched on July 15, 2006, to little fanfare. The company’s founders followed the SXSW start-up script and the result was a success that’s yet to be repeated.

Twitter’s SXSW set up delivers results

Twitter spent $11,000 to set up screens in the convention center hallways, eschewing the trade show floor because Twitter’s founders knew where the real “action” took place. The screens displayed tweets — standard conference fare in 2020, but of course, this was the first time it was done. Twitter also set up an SMS shortcode to facilitate fast sign-up.

SXSW attendees signed up in droves. “When you’re down at SXSW zipping to and from different venues, what’s the best way to stay in touch with your friends?” wrote Wired. “This year, it’s not phone, IM, or email, it’s Twitter.” In an unfortunate choice of words given the cancellation of the 2020 festival, The Guardian wrote Twitter had “apparently infected the crowd.”

Gawker reported that “Twitter staffers Jack and Alex” had said prior to SXSW 2007, users posted around 20,000 tweets a day. During the festival, that number tripled. In comparison, as of October 2019, 500 million tweets are posted each day by Twitter’s more than 330 million users.

Photo: Travel_with_me / Shutterstock

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Kate Johanns

Posted by Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.

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