Live at SXSW: Have We Reached the No-Tipping Point?

Welcome to the Comcast Social Media Lounge, a refuge against the storm of South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive, where the snacks are hot and the couches are soft. No nappers seen. Yet.

Here, while eating a soft pretzel and enjoying a complimentary Austin Amber ale (yes, there’s free beer and wine starting around 4 p.m.), you just might hear one of the Lounge’s many guest lecturers say something super interesting or, drop a head-turning F-bomb.

Here’s what happened at the Comcast Social Media Lounge on the festival’s first day.

Danny Meyer on Why Tipping Sucks

Danny Meyer, the owner of the Union Square Café, Gramercy Tavern and the booming burger joint Shake Shack, hates tipping. He really hates tipping.

“Tipping is one of the most demeaning processes in human history. When you tip someone, you’re telling them that you don’t believe they would treat you well unless you tipped them,” he said.

“Does anyone know what tip pooling is?” he asks, referencing the practice of servers sharing their tips with the cooks, bussers and hosts, making them equally reliant on a customer’s gratitude.

“Yeah, it sucks!” Someone shouts.

“We’ve convinced you you’re paying the tip out of a separate pocket, but that’s B.S. We got rid of tipping at our restaurants, and showed our staff their wages wouldn’t go down as a result,” he said.

Meyer went on to discuss how we’ve also, over time, accepted that fast food must also be poor quality food, but the free pizza arrived and a large crowd coalesced around the snack table.


The room was packed for President Obama’s keynote address, in which he urged the tech attendees to work toward better political engagement. At least half of the people who were at the Lounge to watch the Obama live stream had their heads in their smartphones. Guilty, but I was taking notes, promise! In case you missed it, you can catch the speech here.

Making the Pay Equity Problem Front-and-Center

Speaking on the (“F-ing”) insanity of wage equity, Shelly Zalis, the founder and CEO of the Girl’s Lounge, received a big response from the Loungers when she told the following anecdote:

“At a conference we hosted, we charged men one dollar for water, and women only 77 cents.”


Great Music and Awkward Dancing

A few drinks into happy hour, hip-hop artist and social media maven Jersey Demic (2,744,029 Facebook likes and counting) performed a short set. Awkward dancing ensued.

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