Private jets descended on Sun Valley in rural Idaho on Monday ahead of the annual ‘billionaire summer camp’ for tech and media moguls .
The gathering brings together the worlds of film, technology, design and sports each year, although the event was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, the five-day conference, held at the edge of Idaho’s Sawtooth National Forest in a tiny town of just 1,500, is set to feature strict checks to ensure it does not become a super spreader event.
Those attending investment bank Allen & Co.’s annual conference will need to have been vaccinated and show proof of a negative Covid-19 test.
Over the holiday weekend, private jets belonging to business leaders began arriving at the local airport and taking up space on the tarmac at Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey as they parked up for the week.
From there, guests are chauffeured through 15 miles of lush rolling hills to the lodge where the conference takes place.
Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet will be there, so too will Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley are also expected to attend along with Shari Redstone, who controls ViacomCBS.
Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp, is also among the invitees, as is Fox Corp. Chief Operating Officer John Nallen.
They will have a lot to discuss given the massive shift to streaming during the pandemic and consumers moving to Netflix and Disney+ over the last 16 months and cutting the cord from traditional pay-TV subscriptions.
In May, AT&T said it was spinning off WarnerMedia which is made up from HBO, the Warner Bros. film and TV studio along with the cable networks of TNT and TBS into a new venture being formed with Discovery.
The following week Amazon announced its intention to acquire MGM studios.
Such consolidation within the media industry has reduced the number of potential targets available, but fresh deals are not off the table.
The real action for many onlookers will happen in corridors, restaurants and golf courses rather than conference rooms.
‘It would be wise for these companies to collaborate and rethink the ecosystem, and figure out their future,’ said analyst Neil Begley to the Wall Street Journal. ‘There are still a few players out there that can be easily absorbed.’
Previous deals that have their roots at Sun Valley include the 1995 purchase of Capital Cities/ABC by Disney, Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2009, the purchase of AOL by Verizon in 2015, and Jeff Bezos’ purchase of The Washington Post in 2013.
Attendees at the last conference 2019 included Facebook bosses Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg; Disney’s Bob Iger; 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki; Rupert Murdoch’s son, Lachlan Murdoch, who is the CEO of Fox Corporation; PayPal CEO Dan Schulman; Instagram COO Marne Levine; McDonald’s chief Steve Easterbrook and billionaire media executive Shari Redstone.
The conference began in 1982, and in its early days founder Herbert Allen – who co-founded Allen & Company with brother Charles – had to beg invitees to come.