It’s that time of year again. The post-July Fourth period is when media barons, billionaires, and media barons break out the Brooks Brothers casual and put on their sweater vests to hit a idyllic Idaho resort town. Sun ValleyYou can also download a different edition of “let’s make a deal.”
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Many of those expected to be there next month are familiar faces. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Liberty Media’s John Malone, Comcast chairman Brian Roberts, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, Apple pasha Tim Cook and Berkshire Hathaway guru Warren Buffett are among those who have once again made the cut for Allen & Co.’s annual media conference. David ZaslavAfter combining WarnerMedia with Discovery, he is now the new conglomerate Warner Bros. Discovery is once again on his guest list. He’s joined by the likes of Paramount Global’s Shari Redstone, Netflix co-chairs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos, and Disney CEO Bob Chapek. Bob Iger, the man who Chapek replaced, is also still among the invited and the two Bobs aren’t exactly fans of each other.
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Also known as “summer camp for moguls,”Sun Valley has been the inspiration for many major media mergers. Among the unions that were first hatched in the mountain hideaway are Comcast’s purchase of NBC/Universal, the Washington Post’s sale to Jeff Bezos and Disney’s deal for Capital Cities/ABC. It was also responsible for one epic disaster, setting the stage for AOL and Time Warner’s short-lived merger, but the less said about that…
From the world of Silicon Valley, there’s Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and Elon Musk, the man who is trying to buy the social media platform. Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, who recently announced she will step down as chief operating officer in the fall, are on the list, along with Activision Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, Eventbrite co-founders Kevin Hartz and Julia Hartz, YouTube chief Susan Wojcicki and Spotify founder Daniel Ek. Peter Thiel, the billionaire entrepreneur, will be making his return to Sun Valley after having missed it last year.
The golden ticket is also given to several members of the fourth Estate. They include Tom Brokaw and other pillars in broadcast journalism. Diane SawyerAlong with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius (Washington Post), Thomas Friedman (New York Times editorial page staple), and conservative commentator Douglas Murray (Washington Post) “Squawk Box”Andrew Ross Sorkin, Rebecca Quick are the co-hosts. CNN is represented in the following: Anderson Cooper, Erin Burnett, and Van Jones.
From the Hollywood power brokers set there’s CAA’s Bryan Lourd, recovering super agent Mike Ovitz, Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer and Casey Wasserman, the head of sports marketing and talent agency Wasserman. They’re joined by Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg, late of Quibi.
There’s a cadre of sports and fashion-oriented attendees including Nike founder Phil Knight, Spanx CEO Sara Blakely, St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry, Peloton CEO Barry McCarthy, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, wrestler Eddie Edwards and Tony Bloom, sports bettor and football club owner.
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Sun Valley is home to many Beltway insiders, academics, as well as billionaires. This year is no different. There’s former CIA directors Michael Morrell and David Petraeus, former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, Idaho Gov. Brad Little, University of Chicago president Bob Zimmer, Georgetown University president John J. DeGioia and Richard Haass, Council on Foreign Relations chief, and Yousef El Otaiba (current United Arab Emirates ambassador to America).
Sun Valley guests meet in the morning for lectures on economic, political, and cultural topics. The guest list clearly shows that security, science, and health care are top of mind. Among those featured on the list are Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Mayo Clinic CEO Gianrico Farrugia, New York-Presbyterian Hospital head Steve Corwin, biochemist Feng Zhang, mental health advocate Anne Moss Rogers and the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller.
Some moguls appear to be ignoring this one. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Rupert Murdoch aren’t on the guest list despite having gone to several past Sun Valley conferences. Murdoch’s sons James and Lachlan are expected to attend, however.
There is a caveat to all of these names. Being on the guest list doesn’t mean the mogul or political leader or celebrity in question will actually make the trek to Sun Valley. Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, and others have appeared on guest lists without ever actually making it to Idaho. Allen & Co. will often send invites to the heads of companies that have done business with them. Once they are successful, they can return for years or even decades.
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