Bloomberg News

Buffett, Zuckerberg Lead Guest List for Sun Valley Event

July 08, 2012

(Corrects year in fourth paragraph of July 6 story.)

Billionaires Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg lead the roster of executives invited to Allen & Co.’s annual media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, next week, according to a guest list obtained by Bloomberg News.

Google Inc. (GOOG:US) Chairman Eric Schmidt, Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos and Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) CEO Tim Cook are also invited, according to the document, as is News Corp. (NWSA:US) Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch.

The exclusive gathering, sponsored by investment bank Allen & Co. since 1983, provides an intimate setting for media executives to discuss deals and reflect on the industry while enjoying family bike rides or fly fishing. Some of media’s largest buyouts were hatched or moved forward at Sun Valley, including Comcast Corp. (CMCSA:US)’s 2011 purchase of NBC Universal.

The retreat also attracts elected officials. In 2010, Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker met Zuckerberg, the founder, chairman and CEO of social-networking website Facebook Inc. (FB:US) Zuckerberg later donated $100 million to Newark schools.

Both men are on the list this year, as well as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Buffett, who attended last year, has been acquiring newspapers, betting that community-focused publications can thrive in markets where there is little competition.

Murdoch, who recently announced a plan to spin off his company’s publishing division, is expected to attend, along with sons Lachlan and James. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey and Joel Klein, the former Justice Department lawyer who now heads up the company’s education division, are also invited.

New Attendees

Bobby Kotick, CEO of video-game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI:US), is also invited to the event. Vivendi SA (VIV) is seeking a buyer for its $8.3 billion majority stake in Activision, a person familiar with the situation said last week.

Sun Valley was the setting for early discussions of a merger between AOL and Time Warner Inc. (TWX:US), and Walt Disney Co. (DIS:US)’s 1996 purchase of CapitalCities/ABC was announced weeks after the retreat.

With the shift of movies, television and publishing to online and mobile outlets, the lines between media and technology companies has become blurred. At Sun Valley, Silicon Valley is well represented.

Technology investors Marc Andreessen and Peter Thiel are also on the list, along with Twitter Inc. CEO Dick Costolo, Yahoo Inc. (YHOO:US) interim CEO Ross Levinsohn and Akamai Technologies Inc. (AKAM:US) CEO Paul Sagan, who was recently in contention to lead the New York Times Co.

Other Guests

Other invited guests include CBS Corp. (CBS:US) CEO Leslie Moonves; IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI:US) Chairman Barry Diller; AOL Inc. (AOL:US) CEO Tim Armstrong; Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes; Viacom Inc. (VIAB:US) CEO Philippe Dauman; Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt; and Washington Post Co. (WPO:US) CEO Donald Graham.

Sony Corp. (6758) CEO Kazuo Hirai and Chairman Howard Stringer are listed as well as Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (005930) COO Jae-Yong Lee.

Hollywood executives include DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. (DWA:US) CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg; Creative Artists Agency Inc. managing partner Bryan Lourd; Universal Studios President Ron Meyer; and Paramount Pictures CEO Brad Grey.

The agenda and guest list for the conference aren’t made public. While the press isn’t typically invited to attend the closed-door events, reporters stay in Sun Valley to talk with the executives.

Mandy Tavakol, executive director of the Allen & Co. conference, didn’t respond to a phone call seeking comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Edmund Lee in New York at elee310@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net


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