SXSW Stake Sold to Rolling Stone and Billboard Publisher

Music

SXSW Stake Sold to Rolling Stone and Billboard Publisher

A co-founder of the Austin festival called Penske Media Corporation’s 50% ownership a “lifeline”
SXSW 2020 banner in Austin Texas
SXSW 2020 banner in Austin, Texas (SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images)

Penske Media Corporation—the publisher behind Rolling Stone, Billboard, and Variety—is now a 50% owner of SXSW, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Austin-based music, tech, and film festival has been owned by the festival’s founders since 1987. The founders will continue to manage and operate the festival while Penske will own the largest stake in the festival.

The Texas festival was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to layoffs within the company. This year, it returned as a virtual online event. An in-person festival is being planned for 2022.

“It’s been an incredibly tough period for small businesses, SXSW included,” Roland Swenson, SXSW CEO & co-founder said in a statement. “When [Penske founder] Jay Penske came to us with interest in becoming a partner, it was a true lifeline for us. While SXSW’s core business will retain its focus on the March event in Austin, this strategic investment also brings the exploration of new capabilities in providing quality programming to our diverse community of highly engaged creative professionals.”

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