It's as if Sand Hill Road moved to Austin for a long weekend. Kind of.
Among the scores of party throwers at the South by Southwest Interactive festival over the past five days, there was a who's who of Silicon Valley venture capital firms, many from Menlo Park's legendary Sand Hill Road.
Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Mohr Davidow Ventures all hosted very loud, very crowded shindigs with local Austin bites and long beer lines. Comcast Ventures, based in San Francisco, had one as well. (CNBC is owned by Comcast, the parent company of Comcast Ventures.)
To some degree it's obvious why the big money start-up financiers would want such a presence. Annually, some 30,000 people, many from early-stage companies, swarm the Texas Capital to talk tech. So let serendipity do its thing.
But SXSW is a zoo. Everyone is in hyper FOMO (fear of missing out) mode. I've said my hellos, had a taco, now off to wait in a long line at the next thing.
Why fight the madness?
"We can meet Bay Area entrepreneurs very easily, but we're a global firm, and people tend to descend on Austin," said Ethan Kurzweil, a partner at Bessemer, which held its party at the office of Main Street Hub, a portfolio company. "We want to be here to meet them where they are."
Kurzweil has been going to SXSW for eight years, and for the last five the firm has hosted a gathering, whether over a barbecue dinner or more recently the wild party.
Jim Lussier, head of Dell Ventures, was among those attending Andreessen Horowitz's gathering at Bob's Steak & Chop House (serving a world class lamb chop). Lussier is in Austin frequently, because it's the hometown of his parent company, but he's based in Silicon Valley.
"It's a great crowd," he said. You're always "running into people you didn't know were here who introduce you to someone else and that opens up a whole new relationship and opportunity."