This week some 300 of the nation’s most influential tastemakers and gatekeepers hopped on board their private jets and headed to Idaho to attend the annual Sun Valley Conference, a super-private gathering sponsored by the very discreet New York investment house Allen & Company. The high-powered shmoozefest has been taking place there since 1983, is closed to the public and is renowned to emit next to nothing by way of immediate news, save for photos of the mogul parade as it moves from one event to the next. For a gathering of tech and media leaders, the digital silence is deafening. Nary a tweet or a Facebook post.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Google’s Eric Schmidt (above, right), Disney’s Bob Iger, Fox’s Rupert Murdoch, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos… they’re all there, and then some. What do they do at this “conference” out of sight for so long?! There’s just no saying—which doesn’t stop industry analysts from watching closely for hints of the next big media deal. Speculation and perception drives the market, says Mukul Krishna, Digital Media Senior Global Director of Frost and Sullivan, a business consulting firm. So if a captain of industry is photographed in conversation with a tech wunderkind, it can spark enormous interest in a particular company or sector. (The last big deal to come out of Sun Valley was Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUNiversal in 2009.) Krishna says they know we’re watching. ”It’s like a pretty girl who knows she’s pretty,” Krishna says.
But rather than conjecture about who will not be buying Hulu, Vocativ took a little look at how the parts of a few attendees’ vast personal fortunes tied to their companies stock prices were doing for the last four days while they herded together at the omelette bar and made fun of Brian Grazer’s hair.
You’ll notice Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg is not on this chart. That’s because she saw the value of her stock in the social network soar by about $20 million this week, according to Yahoo Finance figures, making her stock gains so large that we couldn’t show it on our graph. Others enjoyed more modest gains, if you call a couple of million “modest.” (And sorry to you, John Donahoe. Maybe you’re needed back at the office.)
“The gathering is significant because of the calibre of people it attracts,” Krishna adds, noting its curatorial aspects. “Allen & Co have done a fantastic job of turning it into a marquee event and creating a mystery around it.”
As we write this, it’s possible that the jets are already lining up for take off on the single runway of the nearby Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey that services the Sun Valley Resort. ”It’s one of the busiest weeks of the year for us, ” says Rick Baird, the airport manager. He says the airport can have as many as 350 take offs and landings on arrival day, more than double the amount of a ‘normal’ day.
Baird may be one of the few people who is unfazed by the gathering of the powerful. ”We don’t know who’s on the airplanes and frankly we don’t care,” he says. “There’s no priority given to the event. Simply he or she who gets here first, lands first.”