SXSW may have strayed from its roots as the Mecca of indie music, but in the case of this year’s festival, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For the first time ever, SXSW welcomed a sitting President to attend the annual gathering down in Austin. Joined by Evan Smith, Editor in Chief of The Texas Tribune, Barack Obama delivered a 50-minute keynote speech at The Long Center For Creative Art to open SXSW Interactive.
Speaking in front of 2,000 tech workers, entrepreneurs and engineers, Obama called on the tech industry to help tackle some of America’s biggest problems, including fighting climate change, resolving the national privacy vs. security debate and increasing participation in the political process. “The reason I’m here is to recruit all of you,” he said. “We can start coming up with new platforms, new ideas across disciplines and across skill sets to solve some of the big problems we’re facing today.”
Michelle Obama is also scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at SXSW on Wednesday, March 16. The First Lady will be discussing the Let Girls Learn initiative, which aims to break barriers for the 62 million girls around the world who are not in school today.
Watch Obama’s keynote speech in full below (it begins at the 41:00 mark):
The Democratic National Committee fundraiser also went down at SXSW yesterday, which featured an opening performance from J. Cole, per Obama’s request. “I love J. Cole,” the President told the Austin Music Hall audience. “The benefit of having teenage daughters is I actually keep up. And I got a chance to see J. Cole’s mom and grandma.”