Private jets flood rural Idaho as Zuckerberg and other tech bosses arrive for billionaire ‘summer camp’

Some of the biggest deals in tech could take place this week, as high-profile, wealthy execs meet in the Idaho mountains

<p>Private Jets park alongside grazing cows at Friedman Memorial Airport ahead of the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference 2021</p>

Private Jets park alongside grazing cows at Friedman Memorial Airport ahead of the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference 2021

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This week, the leaders of the world’s most influential tech companies are descending on Idaho’s Sun Valley Conference at what has been dubbed a “summer camp for billionaires”.

Those expected to attend the five-day gathering in the Sawtooth Mountains include Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Netflix’s Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos, plus Airbnb’s Brian Chesky, among others.

The private annual conference, organised by investment firm Allen & Company, brings together the most influential people in tech, media, design and sports. The event has taken place every July since 1983, apart from in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s believed that some of the biggest deals in tech could take place this week, as high-profile, wealthy execs are offered the chance to collaborate on future projects. It’s estimated that global streaming platforms, whose revenues skyrocketed during the pandemic, and cryptocurrencies will be hot topics this year.

Attendees this year have to follow strict protocols, to avoid the event becoming a coronavirus hotspot, guests are required to be vaccinated and provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test.

The Sun Valley Resort where the exclusive week-long conference takes place

According to The Wall Street Journal, attendees this year will include Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and his replacement Andy Jassy, plus Discovery’s David Zaslav. Also, Comcast’s Brian Roberts and WarnerMedia Chief Executive Officer Jason Kilar. The co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, is also rumoured to be attending.

Mark Zuckerberg applies sunscreen at the Sun Valley Conference, in 2019

Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg attended the event in 2019, as did Tim Cook, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman and Instagram’s COO Marne Levine.

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, attends the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, in 2019

McDonald’s former president Steve Easterbrook, CEO of the Fox Corporation Lachlan Murdoch and Disney’s Bob Iger were also attendees in 2019, as well as Shari Redstone, president of National Amusements and vice-chairwoman of CBS Corporation and Viacom.

Business tycoon Shari Redstone at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in 2019

When Allen & Company’s Sun Valley Conference began almost four decades ago, its founder Herbert Allen almost had to beg invitees to turn up to the event. Now, private jets are flown into the Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, a city of 8,000 people, to attend.

After a year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic the world's most wealthy and powerful businesspeople from the media, finance, and technology will converge at the Sun Valley Resort for the exclusive week-long conference

Big deals, including Disney buying Capital Cities/ABC in 1995, Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2009, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos purchasing The Washington Post in 2013, have all been brokered at the event.

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