Afterwork’s Jessy Wu shares her favourite 16 sessions from SXSW Sydney

- October 16, 2023 6 MIN READ
SXSW Sydney
Bow and Arrow at the opening ceremony for SXSW Sydney. Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images for SXSW Sydney
SXSW Sydney is just around the corner – and many of you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of conference sessions on offer.

We’ve got you covered. We read through the whole program and picked out our top 16 conference sessions.

Below, you’ll find a curated program featuring familiar faces from the local ecosystem (including members of AfterWork’s very own community!), startup legends who’ve scaled some of the most iconic tech companies in the world, and even international celebrities.

If you’re not a SXSW badgeholder – there’s still a way to get involved in the festivities. AFTER DARK is SXSW UNCONFERENCE that is open to non-badge holders. We’ve organised a night of comedy, storytelling, and serendipitous connection. Tickets are on sale for $50 here.

Without further ado – the program!


Three Elephants in a Room: Sex, Money, and Power

Time: MON OCT 16, 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Location: Room E3.9 – ICC Sydney
Speakers: Christina Hobbs, Jessy Wu, Lucy Wark, Vidit Agarwal

This session confronts the complex and charged topics of sex, money, and power with a panel of gutsy speakers. They will explore the manifestations and influences of different forms of power, including physical, financial, and discursive, in industries like sextech, fintech, and venture capital.

Eat Meat, Save the Planet: A Conversation on Cultured Meat

Time: MON OCT 16, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Location: Room C3.3 – ICC Sydney
Speakers: George Peppou, Samantha Wong, Yolanda Redrup

This session addresses the growing global demand for meat and the potential of cultured meat as a sustainable solution. George Peppou (founder of Vow) and Samantha Wong (Partner at Blackbird Ventures), alongside host Yolanda Redrup, explore the intersection of food, technology, and innovation, discussing how sustainable choices can align with self-interest and the role of disruptive thinking in driving success in this industry.

Earlier this year, Vow made headlines globally with its ‘mammoth meatball’

Unleashing Potential: Scaling Startups in Southeast Asia

Time: MON OCT 16, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Location: Room C2.1 – ICC Sydney
Speakers: Claudia Kolonas, Tushar Roy, Wai Mun Lin

This panel explores Southeast Asia’s potential to become a hub for the next generation of global tech businesses. Claudia Kolonas (founder of pluang), Wai Mun Lin (founder of Doctor Anywhere), and Tushar Roy (Partner at Square Peg Capital) as they delve into the reasons why Southeast Asia is an attractive destination for building, scaling, and investing in tech startups.


Is Science Fiction Becoming Science Fact in Healthcare?

Time: TUE OCT 17, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Location: Theatrette – Powerhouse Museum
Speakers: Dr. Aengus Tran, Kate Pounder , Dr. Simon Kos

This session explores the convergence of science fiction and science fact in the healthcare sector, where technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) are redefining what’s possible. The panel discusses how AI and other advancements in healthcare technology are addressing global healthcare inequalities and driving remarkable progress in the field.

Founder to Funder: Paul and Andrew Bassat in Conversation

Time: TUE OCT 17, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Location: Cockle Bay 2 – ICC Sydney
Speakers: Andrew Bassat, Dan Krasnostein, Paul Bassat

Join this insightful conversation with Paul and Andrew Bassat, co-founders of SEEK, a prominent online employment marketplace. Moderated by Dan Krasnostein, they will share their journey from founding and growing a successful business to transitioning into investing and building Square Peg and SEEK Investments. Gain insights into their perspectives on the attributes of successful founders and their predictions for the future of the tech industry in the coming decade.

What Will VC Look Like in 2050?

Time: TUE OCT 17, 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: Room C2.5 & C2.6 – ICC Sydney
Speakers: Craig Blair, Jessy Wu, Kylie Frazer, Maxine Minter, Mike Zimmerman

Despite a late start, Australia now hosts over 70 VC funds, and substantial capital has been raised to support ambitious founders. Join the panel as they discuss the challenges, opportunities, and emerging trends that will shape the future of VC. They will peer into the future, offering insights into what the venture capital landscape in Australia might resemble in 2050.

Drive to Survive to Full Swing – Making Sports Documentaries that Cut Through and Create Noise

Time: TUE OCT 17, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Location: Cockle Bay 2 – ICC Sydney
Speaker: Paul Martin
Join Paul Martin, Emmy-winning executive producer and Co-Founder of Box to Box Films, as he discusses the creation and success of Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive To Survive series. Explore the intricacies of producing sports documentaries that resonate with audiences, from gaining access to leagues to crafting episodic narratives.


From Stadium Anthems to Locker Room Motivation

Time: WED OCT 18, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Location: Cockle Bay 2 – ICC Sydney
Speakers: Adam Goodes, Dan Rosen, Nina Agzarian

Join this groundbreaking collaboration that explores the intricate relationship between music and sports. From energising stadium anthems to motivating locker room playlists, discover how music and sports intersect and mutually influence each other. Fan favorite sports talents will share their firsthand experiences with music’s impact on their routines and career opportunities. Additionally, the panel will delve into the marketing and branding strategies that unite these two worlds, making athletes and musicians into superstars.

Don’t Write Off the Metaverse Because of a Flawed Branding Attempt

Time: WED OCT 18, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Location: Cockle Bay 1 – ICC Sydney
Speaker: Tom Verrilli

Join Tom Verrilli, ex-Twitch Chief Product Officer, as he challenges the conventional narrative surrounding the metaverse. Verrilli will explain how platforms like Twitch exemplify the internet’s capacity to create metaverses where online identities are as valuable as real-life ones. He will discuss the importance of building the internet for people and communities, emphasizing the need to embrace their passions rather than merely capturing real-world value online.

Keynote: Charlie Brooker in Conversation

Time: WED OCT 18, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Location: Pyrmont Theatre – ICC Sydney
Speakers: Charlie Brooker, Julia Zemiro

Don’t miss this captivating conversation with acclaimed author, screenwriter, and presenter Charlie Brooker – the creator of hit Netflix series Black Mirror.

Why Community Is at the Heart of the Next Marketing Epoch

Time: WED OCT 18, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Location: Cockle Bay 1 – ICC Sydney
Speakers: Katie Rigg-Smith, Roxy Young

Roxy Young, Chief Marketing and Consumer Experience Officer at Reddit, will discuss the future of marketing, emphasising the shift from monologues to conversations, polished creative to audience engagement, and the importance of internal authenticity. Discover why community-driven marketing is the way forward in an age of discerning consumers and intense competition for attention, where collective voices hold sway, and brands must authentically engage with their audiences.

Mythbusters: Aussie Startup Culture Edition

Time: WED OCT 18, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: Room C2.1 – ICC Sydney
Speakers: Alex Khor, Chris Gillings, Gemma Clancy, Kirstin Hunter

This panel session explores the mythology surrounding Australian startup culture. It delves into the shared beliefs, heroes, and stories within the ecosystem and questions their alignment with reality.


Building Slack – A Fireside Chat with Cal Henderson

Time: THU OCT 19, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Location: Pyrmont Theatre – ICC Sydney
Speaker: Cal Henderson

Join Cal Henderson, CTO & Co-founder of Slack, as he shares the remarkable Slack journey and the lessons he’s acquired along the way. Hear how Slack transitioned from video game development to becoming a transformative productivity platform, reshaping the way we work.

Nicole Kidman and Per Saari in Conversation

Time: THU OCT 19, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: Darling Harbour Theatre – ICC Sydney
Speakers: Nicole Kidman, Per Saari

Join award-winning producers Nicole Kidman and Per Saari, as they share their journey from Rabbit Hole in 2010 to the Emmy-winning Big Little Lies and their upcoming projects. They discuss their collaboration with visionary filmmakers, what they seek in creative partners, and their slate of Australian projects.

Big Little Lies season 2: everything you need to know
Nicole Kidman in Season 2 of Big Little Lies

Belonging: The Super Power of Our Species

Time: THU OCT 19, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Location: Darling Harbour – Novotel Darling Square
Speakers: Jenny Li, Joel Connolly, Phil Morle, Skye Riggs
This session, led by Innovation Bay, explores the concept of belonging as the superpower of our species. It delves into the neuroscience of belonging, the benefits of belonging, and how community creators are building belonging at scale. The panel will discuss the importance of human connection and community in our evolution as a dominant species on the planet.

Gen Z Angel Investing and the Rise of the Creator Economy

Time: THU OCT 19, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Location: Room E3.3 – ICC Sydney
Speakers: Daniel Brockwell, Hannah Ahn, Max Marchione, Sachin Shah

Explore how a group of young angel investors in their 20s is democratising angel investing and reshaping the future of venture capital. These investors have collaborated with top venture capital funds like Founders Fund, Sequoia, and Andreessen Horowitz. Discover their journey, the strategies they employed, and the potential transformations in the world of venture capital.


Paul Tollett (founder of Coachella) in Conversation

Time: FRI OCT 20, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Location: Pyrmont Theatre – ICC Sydney
Speakers: Michael Harrison, Paul Tollett

Join Coachella founder Paul Tollet in a wide-ranging conversation covering the evolution and future of Coachella, the future of the global touring deal, the success of emerging music genres, and Michael’s journey from Australian promoter to global promoter.

If that’s gotten you excited, there are a variety of ticket options available here.