Jul 6, 2021 - Economy & Business

Billionaires return to annual Sun Valley "summer camp" retreat

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Business titans across media, tech and entertainment will come together this week for the famous "Sun Valley" summer conference.

Why it matters: The gathering, which often serves as a vehicle for high-profile deal-making and is hosted by investment firm Allen & Co., will be a barometer for how power brokers are approaching industries drastically changed by the pandemic.

  • Increased attention towards streaming, gaming, cryptocurrency and e-commerce will put executives at companies like Netflix, Activision Blizzard, Coinbase and Shopify in the spotlight.

A lot has changed since the last time this group has congregated at the Sun Valley Resort in central Idaho.

  • Several new faces will represent their companies as chief executives this year, including Amazon's Andy Jassy and Disney's Bob Chapek.
  • Noticeably absent from the list of attendees are any executives from TikTok or its parent company ByteDance, as well as AT&T CEO John Stankey, who earlier this year announced plans to spin out two of the company's media investments — DirecTV and WarnerMedia. There doesn't appear to be any other AT&T executives attending in his place. Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav will be there.

The big picture: The annual conference, known for its exclusivity and casual business attire, gives high-powered executives the opportunity to meet privately and hash out partnerships and deals.

  • Some of the biggest media deals over the past few decades, including Verizon's acquisition of AOL, Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal and Jeff Bezos' purchase of the Washington Post, have come out of the conference.

Go deeper ... A few names of people attending, according to a list obtained by Axios:

  • Journalists: CBS News host Gayle King, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, CNBC anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin, CNN anchor Erin Burnett
  • Media and telecom: Mike Bloomberg, IAC's Barry Diller and Joey Levin, Axel Springer SE's Mathias Döpfner, NBCUniversal's Jeff Shell, Comcast's Brian Roberts, Hearst's Steve Swartz, News Corp's Robert Thomson, Verizon's Hans Vestberg, Discovery's David Zaslav
  • Tech and ecommerce: Alphabet's Sundar Pichai, Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Andy Jassy, Apple's Tim Cook, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Marne Levine and Dave Wehner, Shopify's Tobi Lütke, Stripe's Patrick Collison, Snap's Michael Lynton and CEO Evan Spiegel, AirBnB's Brian Chesky, Walmart's Doug McMillon and Greg Penner
  • Entertainment: Disney's Bob Iger and Bob Chapek, Imagine Entertainment's Brian Grazer, Netflix's Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos, WarnerMedia's Jason Kilar, National Amusements' Shari Redstone
  • Sports and gaming: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Boston Red Sox Owner John Henry, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, MLB Commissioner Bob Manfred, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, Activision Blizzard's Brian Kelly and CEO Bobby Kotick
  • Investing: Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, WndrCo's Jeffrey Katzenberg, Greylock Partners' Reid Hoffman, Andreesen Horowitz's Marc Andreesen and Ben Horowitz, Sequoia Capital's Doug Leone, SoFi's Anthony Noto, Bain Capital's Steve Pagliuca
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