The significant presence of advance security teams indicated something big was happening in the beautiful resort mountain town of Sun Valley, Idaho. Locals were scrambling to prepare for a major invasion of the wealthiest moguls in the world for the 37th annual media finance conference hosted and funded by private investment firm Allen & Company.
Locals in Sun Valley are unfazed by all the well-known visitors; after all, for decades, Sun Valley has been a haven for the rich and famous. Ernest Hemingway wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls while staying in suite 206 of the Sun Valley Lodge, and he was joined by countless famous faces, including Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, and Lucille Ball. The skiing in Sun Valley was one of the huge attractions offering the first chairlifts in the world.
The annual event taking place the first week of July, will be centered around the Sun Valley Lodge and Sun Valley Inn. Since its construction in 1936, the historic Sun Valley Lodge has been renovated with 108 expansive guest rooms, a huge spa, fitness center, yoga studio, and updated restaurants, lobbies, and lounges. The new celebrity suites honor five celebrities who spent time vacationing there, including Marilyn Monroe, Sonia Henie, and Clint Eastwood.
The coveted invites to the gathering go out to the top 1% of CEOs and their families, investors, and brilliant scientific minds. For five days, the moguls will listen to speeches, sit in on panels about politics, healthcare, and the economy, and join in on group activities from golf to fly-fishing, hiking, and cycling. And don’t worry about the little ones; large groups of babysitters are provided while the adults participate in networking.
According to entertainment trade publication Variety, the guest list this year will be as impressive as ever. Many famous names include; Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Liberty Media’s John Malone, Comcast chairman Brian Roberts, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, Apple pasha Tim Cook, Netflix co-chairs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos, Disney CEO Bob Chapek, Bob Iger, and Warren Buffett. Among the few women at this primarily white male retreat are Paramount Global’s Shari Redstone and YouTube chief, Susan Wojcicki.
Silicon Valley honchos include Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and Elon Musk, Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Activision Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, Eventbrite co-founders Kevin Hartz and Julia Hartz, and Spotify founder Daniel Ek.
From the media world Tom Brokaw and Diane Sawyer, Anderson Cooper, Erin Burnett, and Van Jones and Hollywood powerbrokers including Chris Silbermann, Bryan Lourd, Mike Ovitz, Brian Grazer, Casey Wasserman, Meg Whitman, and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Sports heads include Nike founder Phil Knight, Spanx CEO Sara Blakely, St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry, Peloton CEO Barry McCarthy, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft.
My dearly departed friend David Carr from New York Times once reported of his visit to the retreat, “After days behind a cordon of vegetation and burly security guys — it was tough to know where to look amid all the suddenly ungated fabulousness. I am going to miss life in that rarified air, even if it actually belongs to someone else.”