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SXSW 2012: ‘Spring Break For Geeks’ Kicks Off in Austin

Hemera/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- The annual South by Southwest Interactive festival kicks off Friday in Austin and, like in years past, the city is expected to be swarming with a mix of technology, social media and creative types.

“It’s spring break for geeks,” says Robert Scoble, who is notorious in the technology industry for knowing about all the next big apps and start-ups. “So many people are here from around the world and most of them are tech passionate. It’s become one of the most important events for networking and accelerating the growth of companies.”

More than 20,000 people are expected to attend the interactive portion of the show. The music and movie events begin later in the week.

“It ends up being one big networking event where everyone is in a relaxed mood,” Michael Dodd, a partner at Austin Ventures, explains. "You’ll find everyone from Valley Venture Capitalists to CEOs of major start-ups in a T-shirt and jeans with a beer and BBQ in hand listening to live music.”

In years past, the show has served as a major launching pad for particular tech apps and services that then went on to gain a widespread user base. Back in 2009, FourSquare debuted at the show; the service now has 15 million users. In 2007, Twitter put some major publicity at the show.

The tech community is already suggesting apps like Highlight, which lets you see friends who are physically near you, might be this year’s halo app.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio