- Sheryl Sandberg was snapped with Bobby Kotick on Wednesday, as were Bloomberg and other billionaires
- The Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, started Tuesday, attracting huge names in business and media
- Invitees include Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, the Murdochs – and even Jerry Seinfeld and Oprah Winfrey
- Spotted arriving Tuesday were the heads of Disney, CBS, Coca-Cola, ESPN and Comcast, among others
- Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer didn’t receive an invite this year, as her company plods toward being sold
Sheryl Sandberg and her boyfriend are power coupling this week in Idaho for the annual Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley.
Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, and Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, first emerged as a couple during this year’s Oscar awards, nearly a year after her husband suddenly died.
Her boss Mark Zuckerberg was spotted with his wife Priscilla Chan, and the heads of Pinterst, Twitter, McDonalds, Walmart, Apple, Disney, CBS, ABC, Discovery Communications, GM, HP, eBay, LinkedIn, PayPal, the 49ers, the Mets, Zynga and AOL were just a few of the titans and power players photographed – as was Michael Bloomberg.
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Mark Zuckerberg (left and right with his wife Priscilla Chan) is pictured arriving at the annual Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley
Last year Sandberg attended with a female friend, and the year before she was there with her beloved husband Dave Goldberg, the CEO of SurveyMonkey.
He died May 1, 2015 while the family was on vacation in Mexico with their two young children. Sandberg has been open about the tragic loss of Goldberg, her biggest supporter.
Kotick is divorced with children.
Diane von Furstenberg was also photographed on Wednesday, presumably in attendance with her husband, billionaire Barry Diller although the cameras missed him.
Like fellow designer Stacey Bendet, DVF eschewed the matching fleece vests, puffy jackets and hats every attendee is gifted for the conference.
The power players aren’t limited to media and billionaires – Stanley McChrystal, retired U.S. Army general and former commander of Joint Special Operations Command – is also in attendance.
Another attendee photographed on Wednesday is Alex Karp, chief executive officer of Palantir, a private data mining company worth tens of billions of dollars.
Hollywood mogul Brian Grazer attended with his wife Veronica – her first time there as Mrs. Grazer. The couple married earlier this year in Los Angeles.
Also adding to the Hollywood vibe was mogul Harvey Weinstein’s designer wife Georgina Chapman – as well her Manhattan neighbors Graydon and Anna Chapman.
The annual event, which attracts the biggest names in tech and media to Sun Valley in Idaho, is organized by boutique investment bank Allen & Co, which has carved out a niche connecting the rich and powerful.
Other big names on the exclusive invite list include regulars such as Murdoch’s dad Rupert, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg – but who’s not there is just as notable, particularly snubbed Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer.
Mayer, the struggling head of Yahoo, is currently trying to assure shareholders about the sale of the company, which is facing bids from numerous companies.
Mayer was invited in 2014 and 2015, but turned down last year’s offer, most likely because she was pregnant with twins.
But this year she was not asked to return – unlike Verizon chief executive Lowell McAdam and AOL head Tim Armstrong, both of whom are favored by many to snap up the company in a sale that ‘could top $4billion.’
TV mogul Sumner Redstone, 93, isn’t attending this year after a fractious period of in-fighting that has seen his daughter, Shari – attending for the first time – going head-to-head with Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman.
Dauman has also been invited, but he’ll likely be keeping his distance from the Viacom vice-chairman, who ejected him from a trust that will control the company once her father dies.
She was pictured at Sun Valley Tuesday talking to another invitee, Les Moonves, who is the CEO of CBS and one of her allies in the power struggle.
Other Tuesday arrivals at the five-day-long event, which began in 1982, include James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, and his brother Lachlan, who is the executive co-chairman of both that company and News Corp.
Returning invitees, the brothers are expected to be joined by father, Fox boss and Sun Valley regular Rupert Murdoch at the event.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, 75, also arrived on Tuesday, bringing along his 35-year-old actress girlfriend Ricki Lander.
Also on the invite list are billionaire business magnate Warren Buffett, PayPal founder Peter Thiel, Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos and entrepreneur and investor Marc Andreessen.
Other invitees to this year’s event cover both celebrity and politics, including comedian Jerry Seinfeld, multimedia boss Oprah Winfrey, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.
Although the full list of topics hasn’t been announced, it’s known that one conversation will be about the artificial intelligence and its effect on business.
And Pritzker will feature on a panel that is likely to discuss the global economy and international trade following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
But the real action for many onlookers will happen in corridors, restaurants and golf courses rather than conference rooms.
It’s there that these movers and shakers will discuss, establish and perhaps even unofficially close on deals that could have huge effects on the wider world.
Previous deals that have their roots at Sun Valley include the 1995 purchase of Capital Cities/ABC by Disney, Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2009, last year’s purchase of AOL by Verizon and Jeff Bezos’ purchase of The Washington Post in 2013.
Both Bezos and Donald E. Graham, The Washington Post’s ex-publisher and chairman of the holding company that sold the paper for $250million, are both in attendance this year.
Many guests arrived by private jet at nearby Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey before being chauffeured through 15 miles of lush rolling hills to the lodge, where they will remain until it closes on Sunday.
Entire families are invited to the event – a move that encourages older (and therefore more experiened and connected) business figures to stay for the duration of the event, rather than to bounce back to their homes after just a couple of days.
Nannies are on hand to take care of the kids, of course, and entertainment for all takes the form of whitewater rafting, biking and hiking – as well as the less dangerous (though perhaps no less stressful) hobby of jostling egos over drinks and food.
The invite-only conference began in 1982, and in its early days founder Herbert Allen – who co-founded Allen & Company with brother Charles – had to beg invitees to come. Now the festival is a roaring success – and great promotion for the company.
This year’s conference runs through Sunday and, like every other year, kicked off with a cookout on Tuesday and concludes with a more formal dinner.