Facebook Inc. (FB:US), Google Inc. (GOOG:US) and Netflix Inc. (NFLX:US) are sending more executives to the annual Allen & Co. gathering of moguls in Sun Valley, Idaho, the latest sign of technology’s growing role in entertainment.
The conference, which dates back to 1983, has been called summer camp for billionaires. Executives from media, finance and politics mingle at the mountain resort between presentations on business trends and social issues, brought together by New York investment banker Herb Allen. Major media deals from Walt Disney Co. (DIS:US)’s 1996 merger with Capital Cities/ABC Inc. to Comcast (CMCSA:US) Corp.’s 2011 acquisition of NBC Universal were hatched there.
As this year’s meeting approaches on July 9, Hollywood is wrestling with its digital future, while content is playing a bigger role in the plans of tech leaders. Google’s YouTube has started subscription channels with content from the Muppets creator’s Jim Henson Family TV, while Disney has agreed to put its movies on Netflix, bypassing a traditional pay-TV deal.
While 2012’s event was attended by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and Co-Founder Sergey Brin, this year’s guest list also includes Salar Kamangar, who runs the YouTube unit, according to two people who have seen the list of attendees.
Top Facebook executives Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and David Ebersman are joined by Daniel Rose, vice president of partnerships and platform marketing, and Netflix’s Hollywood dealmaker, Ted Sarandos, is invited along with Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings. Yahoo Inc.! CEO Marissa Mayer, who bought Tumblr Inc. last month and bid on video website Hulu LLC, isn’t attending.
Transactions likely to be discussed this year include a sale of Hulu, which is owned by Disney, News Corp. (NWSA:US) and Comcast, as well as a potential spin-off of Sony Corp. (6758)’s movie and music divisions. Legendary Entertainment CEO Thomas Tull, shopping for a new studio partner to replace Time Warner Inc. (TWX:US), is an invited guest, as is Kaz Hirai, CEO of Tokyo-based Sony.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (A:US)’s Warren Buffett, who has been buying newspapers, Bill Gates, News Corp. and 21st Century Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch, Liberty Media Corp. (LMCA:US)’s John Malone and Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) CEO Tim Cook are among past attendees invited back -- as is Barry Diller, who has battled broadcasters with his investment in Aereo Inc. This year’s list also includes Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT:US) Chief Executive Officer Michael Duke, who didn’t attend last year.
A spokeswoman for Allen & Co. in New York didn't respond to a telephone request for comment.
A number of sports executives are expected, including Jeanie Buss, executive vice president of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team and Casey Wasserman, whose Wasserman Media Group represents more than 400 soccer, baseball and basketball players.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a regular attendee, was also invited. He is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.
The New York Post reported yesterday that Yahoo’s Mayer wasn’t among the guests.
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