GroupMe Joins Foursquare in Skipping SXSW

No more free grilled cheese, folks

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While South by Southwest Interactive is expected to be a marketing extravaganza next weekend, it's becoming clear that prominent members of tech's Who's Who have other plans.

"We're not holding any events or planning to have any kind of large presence at SXSW this year," John Pignata, engineering director at mobile app GroupMe, told Adweek. "We just have other things going on and don't have the bandwidth to do it this year."

Foursquare revealed yesterday that it was skipping the South By hoopla as well, citing product development as its chief reason. Foursquare was the festival's darling in 2009, while Skype-owned GroupMe stole the show in 2011. In the last few years, GroupMe had become known at Interactive for giving away branded grilled cheese to passersby.

It's interesting to see companies that made their names at SXSW shunning the event, though it's not indicative that the Austin, Texas, event has totally lost its draw for tech brands. Tumblr, Airbnb,, Gogo and scores of others will participate. And 2012 belle of the ball, Highlight, will be on hand—though its outlay hasn't been revealed.

Participating brands could benefit from digital competitors turning their attention elsewhere.

At the same time, it's going to worth watching whether SXSW elevates even a single startup to higher recognition. The 2013 show didn't produce a breakout hit.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.