Every July, the world’s movers and shakers frolic in a tiny town in the U.S. state of Idaho. Adults can indulge in fly-fishing or simply engage in talk around a campfire while their children enjoy ping-pong tables and water pistols. For adventurous souls, there are rafting expeditions. Global media czar Rupert Murdoch once fell out of a raft but managed to reach the riverbank.
The family atmosphere of the Allen Conference in Sun Valley is deceptive. The real focus is business. Attendees this year included former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Disney boss Bob Iger, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper and Muhar Kent, chief executive of Coca-Cola.
For an entire week, disputes are resolved and deals negotiated, like the sale of the Washington Post newspaper to the head of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. In 2009, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg met Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, N.J., and then donated $100 million (€91 million) to the city’s schools. Early internet pioneer AOL laid the groundwork 16 years ago in Sun Valley for one of the most incredible purchases in economic history: the takeover of the Time Warner media company.
No journalists, no news briefings – the annual Allen Conference is as secretive as its organizer, Allen & Co., the New York investment bank that has been pulling strings in the U.S. economy for almost 100 years.