UPDATED, Monday, 4:56 PM: Saturday’s panel with Secretary of State John Kerry and interviewer Charlie Rose went off without a hitch after some technical problems the previous day, but listening about the conflicts in the Middle East was not as interesting to moguls (‘what else is new, it’s a mess over there’) as the panel that featured billionaire investor Warren Buffet and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, according to some in attendance. Bezos, whose company Amazon has become a powerhouse in publishing and is creating its own content now, told the group gathered that the Amazon business model in publishing and creating content is here to stay. While the panels are always greatly attended, some of those who sat through the first few said they were a bit dry and boring, but “Buffet is always interesting to listen to,” said one attendee. Said another, “All the networking is really done in the first day … unless you’re Jeffrey Katzenberg lining up meetings every hour.” Added another, “He sits there and does one meeting after another … he must have had like 20 meetings.” Yes, DreamWorks Animation’s Katzenberg was doing his ‘speed-dating’ meetings near the duck pond as usual which had some entertainment moguls laughing and others rolling their eyes (‘He has like what? One movie in the marketplace?’ Does he know how silly it looks?).
On Saturday, too, were presentations from the younger entreprenuers of Lookout, Xapo and Lending Club, which another attendee said he thought was fantastic (‘The guy from Lookout looked like he was 16 years old’). Also interesting to one attendee was the education panel with Eva Sarah Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools and Kaya Henderson who is the D.C. school superintendent. “They were really good together and kept everyone’s interest.” That panel took place last Thursday.
The five-day Sun Valley retreat wrapped up last night with the annual dinner hosted by Herb Allen, whose aserbic wit and self-deprecating humor was enjoy by all. In reference to the panel earlier in the week that featured producer Brian Grazer and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein talking about the creative process, one attendee noted that “Brian really hit the mark on it. He was pitch perfect. If he did that same speech in showbiz circles it might not resonate but it did with most of people who were not in the business.'” One of the things that they both suggested was to listen to the voices in your head and get in touch with your instinct, which Allen use as a set up for a joke at the Sunday night dinner: “I have the voices in my head. I just don’t know what to do with them yet.” Until next year …
3RD UPDATE, FRIDAY, 2:50 PM: People actually enjoyed the Michael Bloomberg panel today at the Herb Allen Sun Valley conference as the 72-year-old answered questions from journalist Willow Bay, wife of Disney’s Robert Iger. The former mayor of New York whose fight for reasonable gun laws is well-documented, spoke about his philanthropy efforts and giving back to society. Through Bloomberg Philanthropies, the billionaire does just that in the areas of education, the arts, gun issues, governance and public health. He spoke about how dysfunctional the current U.S. system is politically and otherwise to get things done — no doubt as he personally saw what happened behind the scenes in Washington D.C. as politicians in the pocket of the NRA stymied efforts to get background checks on gun sales passed. Leave it to a politician — an orator and a former Eagle scout (hey, it’s no small task) — to wake up the moguls.
The second panel, which was supposed to feature Charlie Rose interviewing Secretary of State John Kerry piped in live from Afghanistan, went awry as the video feed didn’t work (they tried for about 15 minutes to get it up and running to no avail). That conversation, which was expected to be about how heavily the U.S. should be involved in the current explosive situation in the Middle East, will now take place tomorrow after journalist Becky Quick interviews Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos.
So they are attempting to fix the video feed for tomorrow, but let’s face it, if it doesn’t work, we doubt anyone will be upset as Kerry drones … on and on. Speaking of drones, there has been some attempt to make sure that drones don’t fly over the conference taking pictures, according to Bloomberg News. Ahhh, technology … the age of the paparazzi drone? If people are still awake after Kerry and Rose, a number of younger entrepreneurs will have their turn at bat.
Most all we spoke with don’t expect any major deals to go down at this conference. That (more…)