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Zuckerberg. Bezos. Cook. Media, tech titans gather in Idaho to network and make deals

UPDATED: Wed., July 11, 2018, 12:30 p.m.

Shari Redstone, vice chairman of Viacom Inc., at the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley in July 2017. She was also invited to the 2018 conference this week. (David Paul Morris / Bloomberg)
Shari Redstone, vice chairman of Viacom Inc., at the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley in July 2017. She was also invited to the 2018 conference this week. (David Paul Morris / Bloomberg)

Some of the most powerful names in American business are gathering this week in Idaho for the annual Allen & Co. conference at Sun Valley Resort.

“Switzerland has Davos; Idaho has the Allen Conference,” reports Boise State Public Radio. “The exclusive, invite-only gathering of moguls in Sun Valley has a guest list that reads like a who’s who.”

Variety reports that a guest list it obtained in advance includes Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon head Jeff Bezos, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Flickr and Slack founder Stewart Butterfield, Apple chief Tim Cook, and Warren Buffett, who often drives his own station wagon to the event. (Most moguls arrive in private jets or planes. As Business Insider put it: “To impress your fellow elite moguls, one simply doesn’t travel by commercial airline.”)

Bloomberg says the list also includes CBS CEO Les Moonves, Comcast Chairman Brian Roberts, Fox founder Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James, and former TV interviewer Charlie Rose, who left the airwaves after multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

Known as the “summer camp for billionaires,” the invite-only event lets attendees get their fix of both mountain biking and golfing, as well as merger talks and media spats,” Bloomberg reports. “During the conference, Sun Valley Resort’s town homes and cottages go for $1,600 to $3,400 a night.”

“The conference, like the company itself, is secretive,” reports the Idaho Mountain Express newspaper in Ketchum. “Allen & Co., a private Fifth Avenue investment bank, doesn’t have a website. It counts George Tenet, the former head of the CIA, among its employees. Organizers and staff are contractually bound to silence. The schedule, as always, stays under lock and key. Presentations and panels cover a wide range of topics, but have focused on politics and on the technology, media and telecommunications sector—the bank’s specialty.”

The Hollywood Reporter says there could be awkwardness between Moonves and Viacom Vice Chairman Shari Redstone. CBS is suing Redstone’s National Amusements, and Moonves doesn’t want Redstone to try to merge with Viacom, the Reporter writes. Also, Disney CEO Bob Iger, another invitee, and Comcast’s Roberts are in a bidding war to take over most of 21st Century Fox. (Whoever wins, the Murdoch family would still control Fox’s cable and TV networks, including Fox News.)

And the New York Times says Apple’s Cook may look for ways to spend his company’s $163 billion in cash, mainly with acquisitions.


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