Penske Media Corporation – the publisher of Rolling Stone, Billboard and Variety – now owns 50% of SXSW, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Austin-based music, technology and film festival has been owned by the festival’s founders since 1987. The founders will continue to lead and operate the festival, while Penske will have the largest stake in the festival.
The Texas Festival was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in layoffs within the company. This year it returned as an online virtual event. A personal festival is planned for 2022.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult time for small businesses, including SXSW,” said Roland Swenson, CEO and co-founder of SXSW, in a statement. “When [Penske founder] Jay Penske came to us with an interest in becoming a partner. It was a real lifeline for us. While SXSW’s core business will continue to focus on the Austin March event, this strategic investment also includes exploring new ways to deliver high quality programming to our diverse community of highly dedicated creative professionals. “