EXCLUSIVE: While talk of direct-to-consumer streaming and the M&A climate is in the air at Allen & Co.’s annual retreat in Sun Valley, the actual day-by-day agenda includes sessions reaching far beyond the media racket.
Cybersecurity, foreign affairs, education, Brexit and the human brain will all be explored in the confab that officially began today, according to a day-by-day schedule obtained by Deadline. Gayle King of CBS News will interview U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. More directly related to the media-business realm are sessions involving commissioners of five major professional sports leagues and separate ones featuring Bill Gates, Liberty Media chairman John Malone, and current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Conference programming fills the morning hours of the week, with afternoons and evenings generally reserved for private meetings or recreation. Media, famously, is kept at a distance from the invite-only gathering, which has been held in the same Idaho resort every July since 1983. (Plenty of reporters nevertheless trek to the Mountain time zone, including media figures allowed in to moderate conference sessions.) While its status as a seedbed of dealmaking has waned to an extent, the retreat has hosted key early talks in a few major transactions, among them AOL-Time Warner and Disney-Capital Cities and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post. This year will see leaders from Apple, Disney, Facebook, National Amusements, Univision and other media and tech companies make the scene.
Here’s an outlook for the rest of the week:
On Wednesday, Malone will sit down with fellow billionaire Ken Langone in a session moderated by CNBC’s Becky Quick. Then, the business network’s Andrew Ross Sorkin will speak with Arbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
The following day will feature a rare gathering of the commissioners of the NFL (Roger Goodell), the NBA (Adam Silver), Major League Baseball (Rob Manfred), the NHL (Gary Bettman) and the PGA (Jay Monahan). Though there are any number of directions that talk could go, TV and streaming rights should emerge as a dominant theme in the panel moderated by Allen & Co.’s Steve Greenberg. The day also features a one-on-one between Microsoft’s Nadella and Aneel Bhusri, founder and CEO of business software firm Workday. The morning will also include discussions about brain science and education.
Friday’s slate begins with NBC’s Tom Brokaw moderating a panel whose speakers include CNN contributor and activist Van Jones and Suffolk County (NY) D.A. Tim Sini. Next up is Lionel Barber of the Financial Times, convening a conversation about Brexit and the future of the EU, featuring panelists such as Cineworld’s Tony Bloom and digital publisher Axel Springer’s Mathias Döpfner. Gates will close the morning by talking with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Saturday wraps up the week with King quizzing Pompeo. Other sessions that morning include one on cyber threats moderated by John Miller, now with the New York Police Department but formerly a TV correspondent for ABC News and other outlets. Another panel will showcase emerging companies Kallyope, OpenAI and Carbon.