The private jets have begun clogging the jetways in Sun Valley, Idaho, which can only mean one thing: “Billionaire summer camp’’ has begun.
The annual Allen & Company conference, the investment firm’s invite-only gathering of some of the world’s most powerful corporate titans, officially begins on Wednesday. Over the next week, the nation’s moguls will play golf, go white-water rafting, attend breakout sessions, and make decisions about the future of their respective media empires.
And naturally, some of Boston’s own coterie of power players will be among them.
Both Shari Redstone and CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves are on the guest list. The two have been locked in a legal battle, as the board of CBS has attempted to strip Redstone’s family investment arm, National Amusements Inc., of its voting control in the media company. Meanwhile, Redstone had sought to create a merger between CBS and Viacom (which the Redstone family also owns). The case goes to trial in Delaware in three months, so one expects things could get testy.
Patriots owner Bob Kraft and John Henry and Linda Pizzuti Henry, owners of the Red Sox (and the Boston Globe) are also expected to make their way to Idaho, where Bloomberg reports they’ll rub elbows with other sports bigwigs like Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League, and agent Casey Wasserman, who’s helming the organization overseeing the upcoming 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. Cable tycoon John Malone, who holds major stakes in Charter Communications and Discovery Inc., is also rumored to be looking to scoop up regional sports networks while wandering the grounds, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Allen and Co.’s guest list rarely changes from year to year, so you can bet longtime attendee Steve Pagliuca will also be on hand. Last year, the Celtics co-owner and co-chairman of the Boston-based private equity firm said in an interview with Bloomberg that the sky-high stock valuations meant private equity firms had to work harder, and that Bain would “stick to [its] knitting,’’ and focus on making deals that can transform and grow companies.
Wayfair’s CEO Niraj Shah is also attending the conference. Stay tuned to see if he ends up in meetings with his fellow e-commerce scion, Jeff Bezos, who has been ramping up Amazon’s housewares efforts as of late.
Other media moguls expected to turn up at the confab include Fox’s Rupert Murdoch, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Apple’s Tim Cook. Also on the guest list: Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, General Motors’ Mary Barra and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, who is scheduled to host a Q&A over the weekend.
The conference, which is in its 35th year, often ends up being the staging ground for massive media deals. In 1995, the details of Disney’s acquisition of ABC/Capital Partners were hashed out there, as was the 2000 Time Warner/AOL merger and Comcast’s 2011 takeover of NBCUniversal. The mountainous Idaho landscape was also the site of Bezos’s first steps toward acquiring the Washington Post.
As for the Idaho locals, they were looking forward to a lucrative week of baby-sitting, catering, and guiding gigs, many of which offer “boosted wages and, often, a fat tip,’’ according to Mark Dee reporting in the Idaho Mountain Express. But the Sun Valley Resort, which plays host to the spectacle, won’t divulge any details on the guests or the agenda for the week.
“That message has been the same for 35 years: Everybody’s here, and nobody’s talking,’’ Dee writes.