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Meet the woman who lets SXSW strangers crash for free

Well... almost free.


Dylan Love


Posted on Mar 13, 2015   Updated on May 29, 2021, 7:46 am CDT

Anne Ward’s front-facing message to the Internet really says it all:


The native Austinite currently lives in San Francisco, where she edits MobileFOMO, an Internet marketing publication about the mobile industry, and runs a social media reporting application called Social Rundown.

She maintains her Texas home as a rental property through Airbnb, and for this year’s SXSW festival, she plans to repeat what she’s done the previous two years: give a free SXSW rental to whoever can come up with the best plan to publicize her business.

"House mascot."

“House mascot.”

Anne Ward.

One previous winner was the Funny Or Die team, which concocted a social media crossover promotion for Ward’s business. It even involved actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse, of McLovin/Superbad fame.

This year, a group from computer incubator Wearable World gets a free place to crash.: a comfortable place to crash in Austin for free. Of course, in return they have to help publicize Ward’s companies. Those plans are currently under wraps, but they’re apparently good enough to win a weekend house.

Ward’s terms and conditions for the deal are appropriately Austin-cool, effectively boiling down to “be nice to my house.” 

[…] I reserve the right to refuse any entry for any reason. Also, I may accept more than one entrant, so don’t worry if you are flying solo, that’s cool man! You have my assurances that you will be in good company. :)
Winners must provide a valid driver’s license, be 21 years of age or older and have three personal references who can assure me you are not a world famous graffiti artist or some kind of serial murderer. No big parties, no Austin locals, no additional overnight guests allowed, no renting the space to others and NO PETS! Any damage made to the property will be your responsibility, intimidating legal mumbo jumbo goes here.
Please remember, you will be staying at my house as a special SXSW guest and I reserve the right to ask you to leave in the event that you totally deserve it. In other words, c’mon be cool, man. Let’s have some fun! Please don’t make me call my 6′ 10″ cousin, “Bear”.

Ward’s previous experience inviting inventive strangers to stay with her has yielded some productive results, both for the week of SXSW and back in the real world. “We work together while we’re here,” she said. “We help each other get into parties, publicize each other’s stuff on social media, get on lists, and so on. In essence, this is a meta-incubator.”

Anne Ward

Ward estimates she’d make about $100 per person per night if she were to charge renters during the week of SXSW.

“We usually have a barbecue every year. We invite luminaries and reporters over, we like to have a hometown austin experience. I figured out a way to keep the house available to myself for it to return to its roots,” said Ward.

Photo via Anne Ward

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*First Published: Mar 13, 2015, 4:47 pm CDT