Fourth of July has come and gone — and that means the swanky Sun Valley ski resort in Idaho is set to host A-list moguls from across tech, media and business at Allen & Co.’s annual “summer camp for billionaires.”
The runway of nearby Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, Idaho will be clogged with private jets this week, with bigwigs like Disney’s Bob Iger and Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg breaking out their shades, golf shirts and power vests – or maybe a green, lizard-print, button-down, like Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett donned last year.
The conference’s private events each year are a closely-guarded secret, but the titans set to participate in closed-door dealmaking and hobnobbing may be more somber than usual as they stroll the grounds or grab a coffee.
Mergers and acquisitions — the bread-and-butter draw of Sun Valley — have dried up this year as companies face a still-uncertain outlook. While markets have bounced back from last year’s brutal selloff, tech giants like Google, Meta, Amazon and Microsoft are still smarting from massive layoffs as they slash spending and redouble their efforts on winning the artificial intelligence race.
In the media sector, industry mainstays like Iger, who just ordered major job cuts at Disney properties such as ESPN, and WarnerBros. Discovery’s David Zaslav, whose ratings-challenged network CNN is the subject of sale rumors, are under pressure to turn around their struggling empires.
In tech, Meta boss Zuckerberg is set to attend just days after his company launched its Twitter-like social media app Threads in a direct challenge to Elon Musk. Threads has already gained more than 100 million users – as well as threats of legal action from Musk.
AI will surely be a key topic of discussion. OpenAI’s head honcho Sam Altman is slated to be in town for the gathering, as is Microsoft boss Satya Nadella, whose company has poured billions into the AI firm’s operations.
Apple CEO Tim Cook will be in town after steering the iPhone maker to an unprecedented $3 trillion market cap, as will Google boss Sundar Pichai, according to a guest list published by Variety last month.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will be rubbing elbows even as he awaits word on whether a federal judge will side with the Federal Trade Commission in its bid to block the company’s sale to Microsoft for $69 billion. Tech investor Peter Thiel and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman also made the cut.
From the media world, prominent figures such as Oprah Winfrey, New York Post and NewsCorp owner Rupert Murdoch and Paramount Global chair Shari Redstone were all invited to join Iger and Zaslav at the event.
Netflix execs Reed Hastings, Ted Sarandos and Greg Peters are set to attend alongside Hollywood mainstays like CAA’s Bryan Lourd, newly minted Biden re-election campaign co-chair Jeffrey Katzenberg, famed producer Brian Grazer and many others.
Sports leaders such as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred were tapped to attend.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, whose recent tie-up with the Saudi-backed LIV circuit has drawn Congressional scrutiny over “sportswashing” allegations, is also on the list. Monahan returned to work last week after a brief medical hiatus.
On the public policy front, ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and former CIA head David Petraeus are among those who are said to have scored invitations.
Sun Valley is also set to play host to prominent journalists. Andrew Ross Sorkin, the New York Times’ “DealBook” columnist and CNBC host, is expected to show up at the shindig, as is his “Squawk Box” co-anchor Becky Quick.
CNN personality Van Jones is on the roster, alongside his network colleague Erin Burnett, The Free Press founder Bari Weiss and CBS journalists Gayle King and David Begnaud.
Musk, a featured speaker at last year’s festivities, was notably absent from the guest list. The Twitter owner’s appearance in Sun Valley last year came in the midst of his messy $44 billion Twitter takeover and just days after a report surfaced that he had fathered twins with Shivon Zilis, an executive at his brain chip company Neuralink.
The Sun Valley confab has served as the starting point for major deals, both expected and unlikely, in years past. Major examples include Bezos’ deal to acquire the Washington Post for $250 million or Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo for $4.8 billion.
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