My latest column fleshes out Allen & Co.’s annual Sun Valley confab starting July 10th. (I also posted the schedule here). The headline is, Moguls Will Be Moguls at Camp Allen: Shareholders get burned around the Big Media campfire. My conclusion? “To be honest, nobody talks about it anymore, nobody cares about it anymore and nobody wants it anymore. Attending it now is a chore…”
“Others take great pains to show the proper Camp Allen spirit. I remember when Sony COO Nobuyuki Idei arrived virtually arm in arm with new employee Howard Stringer at Allen’s dinner wearing ebony Men in Black Tees over their standard-issue Camp Allen polo shirts. (Nattered one attendee, “Don’t those guys realize that they’ve fired everyone involved with that movie?”)
“Sometimes the veneer of überpoliteness breaks down. I recall when David Geffen participated in a digital-barbarians-at-the-gate discussion that was slickly moderated by then–Intel Corp. chairman Andy Grove. “What am I doing on this panel? I don’t know anything about technology,” Geffen griped, seated alongside Idei, Rupert Murdoch, Barry Diller, Edgar Bronfman Jr., and departed FCC chairman Reed Hundt. Or the time Diller began a sentence with “My intuition…” and Grove sputtered, “Don’t let the facts get in the way of your grand intuition, Barry.” This stuff might sound polite, but in that rarefied air it’s the equivalent of farting in public.
“At Friday night’s roast, the favorite camp event, Allen & Co.’s head institutional salesman Jack Schneider hands out Camp Allen’s equivalent of the Dubious Achievements awards. One year, ICM’s Jeff Berg inherited Mike Ovitz’s “biggest prick in Hollywood” award (they gave him a dildo) while recently fired entertainment executives were given “Will Work For Food” sandwich boards. Another time, Bill Gates was given his very own look-alike Ken doll, complete with eyeglasses and clutching a roll of real $100 bills. Warren Buffett serenaded host Herbert Allen on his banjo. And a huge Pepsi bottle with a big, fat rubber rodent inside was awarded to Coke chairman Roberto Goizueta. As for this year’s Camp Allen, the real rats are telling their staffs to file flight plans to their own not-so-private Idaho.”
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