AUSTIN (KXAN) — President Barack Obama’s visit to Austin today as the key note speaker for South by Southwest kicks off the interactive and film portion of the 9-day event.
The President is expected to give a challenge to the young technology gurus and entrepreneurs who are attending SXSW. Obama wants them to find ways to make government more savvy and easier to access. For example, he wants the Affordable Care Act website to be improved.
Obama also wants the private sector to find better ways to protect the government and American people from cyber threats. By creating new technology, President Obama has seen the creations of more jobs. White House officials tell KXAN that over half-a-million of jobs open today are in technology fields like software development and cyber security; jobs didn’t even exist a decade ago. They are good paying jobs with salaries approximately 50-percent more than the average private sector job, according to the White House.
Obama is no stranger to Austin. He famously cut the line at Franklin’s BBQ in 2014 and has visited the live music capital many times during his presidency.
The director of South by Interactive told KXAN that years ago they started developing contacts over at the White House asking if any senior officials would be interested in speaking during the festival. Of course by senior officials they meant the President. It wasn’t until last week that SXSW received confirmation that President Obama would be the speaker. Although there were heavily dropped hints about it happening back in January.
“I got a really good feeling about this in January when he did his State of the Union address,” said the SXSW Interactive Director, Hugh Forest. “I don’t know if you caught it but at one point he talked about startups and tech innovation and he mentioned Austin and I thought -yeah that’s a pretty good sign of what might happen in March.”
The Interactive Director also said he thinks the President wanted to be here due to 95-percent of the SXSW speakers being people who have created start ups and technologies the country needs, which is something the President strongly supports.