I've always loved to watch Mark Cuban dance — but Tuesday night I got to see the billionaire booty-shaker up close. The venue: PureVolume Ranch in Austin, Texas. The occasion: The Bigg Digg Shindigg, South by Southwest Interactive's closing party. "You guys always picked the worst photos of me," Cuban said. Mark, as I said at Sunday's panel on gossip, I live to serve. Digg packed PureVolume's dance floor and backyard tents with hundreds of partygoers. Besides Cuban, Moby was there, as were Digg CEO Jay Adelson and cofounder Kevin Rose, iLike CEO Ali Partovi, StumbleUpon's Garrett Camp, and Automattic's Matt Mullenweg. RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser had just flown in from Florida on a private jet. But for me the most interesting person was newly hired Digger Aubrey Sabala, who put the party together in three days — after Digg had given up on the idea.
Sabala, who started at Digg on February 6 as community manager and marketing director, is a SXSW veteran. (You can tell because she calls it "South By.") She was set on the idea of a party at the festival, but by Friday, she and the rest of Digg had decided it was a nonstarter. The next Monday, though, she gave it another try. A call to a Napa winery landed a sponsor for wine. A call to a contact at PureVolume secured the club for Tuesday night. With that, Sabala had a party that bridged SXSW Interactive's last day and the SXSW Music's first.
A few blocks away at Six Lounge, Revision3 was also bridging music and the Web, with a live debut of "Rock Band," Randi Jayne Zuckerberg and David Prager's homage to the guitar-wielding videogame at a party hosted by Rana Sobhany. Kevin Rose ruled Austin last night — he also cofounded Revision3.
Prager, Revision3's COO, told me Monday about the times he'd put money from his own bank account into Revision3's coffers to make sure it made payroll. Those lean days are long past for both of Rose's companies. Even as the stock markets waiver, Web startups seem flusher than ever. A Microsoft ad deal has buoyed Digg; the online-video boom is taking care of Revision3's paychecks.
Are we going to see this kind of party scene at next year's SXSW? Let's be clear: SXSW was a good time, not a boundless bacchanal. Nothing smacked of excess: A mild dose of star power is enough to intoxicate the deskbound Web designers who attend the festival. But I noticed that no one talked about the stock market once the whole week. SXSW was a comfortable bubble. As the Webheads fly back home, will they even feel it popping?