×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sun Valley: More Schmoozing Than Dealmaking So Far

SUN VALLEYHaim Saban sat down to chat with News Corp.’s Chase Carey and kicked off his shoes. It was the end of the second day of Allen & Co.’s conference at the Sun Valley Lodge, and Saban (pictured), stretched out in an upholstered chair in front of the Duchin bar, clearly wanted to relax.

Surrounded by fellow moguls, the two men talked for more than 10 minutes, saying “hi” to bigwigs like Comcast’s Brian Roberts and joking with sports magnate Robert Kraft. Disney’s Bob Iger and Activision’s Bobby Kotick wandered through separately after spending close to 20 minutes talking by the resort’s bicycle shop.

But the schmoozing seemed decidedly more pleasure than business, and several conference attendees agreed that Wednesday night was too early for any real dealmaking to be under way. Iger brushed off the idea of a Disney/Activision pair-up, pointing out that he and Kotick had been friends for years.

The lack of serious business is not surprising. Allen & Co.’s guest list is widely seen as a barometer of power amongst media and technology’s elite. The irony, however, is that these top newsmakers tend to spend their days trying to avoid the headlines, as their host frowns upon public statements. There have been exceptions, of course: Disney’s purchase of ABC/Capital Cities reportedly had its roots here, and Google’s Eric Schmidt plans to hold a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Reporters, however, have restricted access to the grounds and are banned from the lodge’s bar after 5 p.m. For the most part, Allen & Co. just wants its moguls to enjoy the scenery and network.

“I’m just sitting down with a lot of folks and asking them how their business is and all that good stuff,” Sony Corp. chief Kazuo Hirai said as he walked leisurely into the Sun Valley Lodge on Thursday. “Just a lot of general talk.”

Things may get a little more heated up Saturday morning after the scheduled New Breed discussion. One of the many panels closed to the press, New Breed centers around identifying emerging companies. The talks centered around an infant YouTube in 2006, when its co-founder and then-CEO Chad Hurley was the belle of the ball. Less than three months later, Google purchased his streaming site for $1.65 billion.

Many of the execs roaming about in shorts and T-shirts have been working on high-profile deals outside of the confab, and speculation abounds about whether any of those discussions will be furthered here in Idaho. Peter Chernin can’t go anywhere without questions about his bid for Hulu, while DirecTV’s Michael White has been avoiding the press entirely.

Hirai has spent months denying that Sony Pictures was up for sale, but that hasn’t stopped potential suitors from approaching. Even so, Hirai said he hasn’t been dealing with that kind of interest at Allen & Co. this year.

“That discussion comes up everywhere,” Hirai said. “It doesn’t have to be in Sun Valley.”

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Leonardo Dicaprio Once Upon a Time

    Leonardo DiCaprio's Earth Alliance Commits $5 Million to Amazon Fires

    Earth Alliance, an environmental initiative backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, has committed $5 million toward the preservation of the Amazon rain forest following an alarming surge in wildfires. After launching Sunday, the organization’s emergency Amazon Forest Fund is working to support local partners and indigenous communities in their efforts to protect the sensitive habitats within the [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Weinstein Can Get a Fair Trial in Manhattan, Says D.A.

    The Manhattan District Attorney’s office argued on Friday that Harvey Weinstein can get a fair trial in Manhattan, and blamed the producer’s defense team for much of the pre-trial publicity in the case. Weinstein’s attorneys have asked an appellate court to transfer the case — which is set to begin on Sept. 9 — to [...]

  • Leonardo DiCaprio Madonna

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna Call for Action on Amazon Wildfires

    As wildfires rage at an alarming rate in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest, celebrities are using their platforms to bring awareness to the deforestation’s impact and to call for action. In the past week, stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna, Cara Delevingne and Ariana Grande have taken to Instagram to express their frustration with the lack of [...]

  • 'The Durrells' TV Show

    Greece Sweetens Production Incentives as Struggling Country's Economy Rebounds

    It’s taken the better part of a decade for Greece to show signs of recovery from the crippling crisis that almost pushed it out of the Eurozone. Now, with the economy slowly on the mend, the government is doubling down on efforts to jump-start the local film industry, giving a dramatic overhaul to the incentive [...]

  • Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group announced it has entered a partnership with the music streaming and discovery service Audiomack, marking the platform’s first licensing deal with a major label. According to the announcement, the two companies will work together on content concepts and explore ways to break emerging artists, connecting music fans with rising talent before they [...]

  • Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on

    Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on ‘Brilliant’ Album and Campaign

    Two days after Taylor Swift fired off the latest salvo in her battle with Scooter Braun, the manager congratulated the singer on the campaign around her “brilliant” new album, “Lover,” which arrived last night. The message came after Swift said she will be re-recording songs from her first six albums, which are now owned by [...]

  • David Koch Obit

    David Koch, Libertarian Activist and Billionaire Philanthropist, Dies at 79

    David Koch, brother of Charles Koch and one of the owners of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the U.S., has died at 79. According to the New York Times, Charles Koch announced the news of his brother’s death in a statement. Though he did not attribute to David’s death to a particular cause, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content