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Author Topic:   Herb Allen - Sun Valley Conference
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posted July 07, 2009 09:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
RPT-PREVIEW-Media players plot survival in Sun Valley
Mon Jul 6, 2009 8:00am EDT

* Allen & Co Sun Valley conference from July 7-12

* Expected guests include News Corp, IAC, Viacom CEOs

* Recession, Web threaten media business models

* Wave of movie, TV dealmaking expected (Repeating story that initially moved on Sunday)

By Robert MacMillan

NEW YORK, July 5 (Reuters) - The global recession, shrinking advertising sales and fears that the Internet could render big media empires obsolete provide an ominous backdrop for executives at this week's Sun Valley conference.

Herb Allen's boutique investment bank Allen & Co has organized this retreat in the affluent mountain resort town in south-central Idaho every summer for 27 years, inviting guests such as Rupert Murdoch, Sumner Redstone and Barry Diller.

But never before have the media elite been harder pressed to find ways to survive and grow, whether through acquisitions or alliances that they forge over hikes, horseback rides and after-dinner drinks at this historical meeting ground for media and technology deal makers.

"People in the traditional media world are terrified," said Ken Auletta, a New Yorker magazine media writer and author of several books about the media industry, who will chair a panel on new media at this week's conference.

"They're in the analog world, and the world is becoming digital," he said. "They're insecure about what's going to happen to their businesses."

This year's conference from July 7-12 will feature panel discussions, including likely themes from globalization to U.S. President Barack Obama's handling of the financial crisis.

But the real action will be deal action. Last year, Sun Valley was about Microsoft Corp's (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) failed bid to buy Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

This year, the drama may lie with Time Warner Inc (TWX.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Viacom Inc (VIAb.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and CBS Corp (CBS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) as their executives stroll with a passel of rich money managers like Time Warner investor Vivi Nevo and Yahoo shareholder Gordon Crawford.

Time Warner Chief Executive Jeffrey Bewkes plans to spin off AOL before the end of the year, and speculation is growing on whether he will also ditch the struggling Time Inc magazine unit -- the kinds of decisions that guests are known to make as they linger by the duck pond or knock back a beer.

Chatter also is surfacing over whether Bewkes is in a buying mood. Variety's Peter Bart last month named the DreamWorks Animation (DWA.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) movie studio as a target, and Viacom, which distributes DreamWorks movies through its Paramount division, as a rival suitor.

Paramount is already in talks to combine its DVD manufacturing and distribution operations with a rival studio such as News Corp's Fox or Sony Corp's (6758.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) Sony Pictures to cut costs, a source told Reuters last week. [ID:nN30237235]


Bankers expect dealmaking in Hollywood to heat up this summer, as media companies look for new growth opportunities and ways to cut costs as they grapple with slowing DVD sales and tight corporate advertising budgets. [ID:nN29274840]

"I would not be surprised if there was a big CBS story. They're a traditional company that is in one of the most challenged sectors in traditional media today," said Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors, part of media consulting and research firm Frank N. Magid Associates.

Media watchers will make hay with whomever Murdoch lunches, particularly as the News Corp chief stakes his new-media credentials on rehabilitating MySpace, which has lost the title of world's biggest online social network to Facebook.

MySpace's new management team is expected to show up, although it is unclear if Mark Zuckerberg, the 25-year-old chief of Facebook, will. Twitter Chairman Evan Williams is on the guest list, as are Google (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) CEO Eric Schmidt and Dell (DELL.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) Inc chief Michael Dell.

"Some Internet companies are feeling pretty good about themselves ... and have some currency they can use to buy some companies," Vorhaus said.

They will have to act soon. Media stocks like News Corp, Time Warner, Walt Disney Co (DIS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Viacom, have rallied 50 percent to 80 percent since hitting big lows in March.

But just after Sun Valley comes quarterly earnings season, and analysts are expecting big profit drops for many media companies as advertising budgets keep shrinking.

U.S. ad spending likely will fall an average of 1.7 percent a year to $174 billion in 2013 from $189 billion in 2008, with revenue declines likely to hit TV ads, the music business and publishers, according to a study from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

At the same time, U.S. digital ad spending will be a quarter of total industry revenue by 2013, the report said.

Against that backdrop, content companies are likely to discuss partnerships with distributors such as Time Warner and Comcast Corp's (CMCSA.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) TV Everywhere online video project.

Those companies hope these projects will let them adapt to the Internet age without sacrificing the billions of dollars that their traditional businesses bring them.

"There's been a lot of deep cost-cutting at all of these companies. The question is going to be how do they repair their business model after the cuts," said Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce. (Reporting by Robert MacMillan; Additional reporting by Yinka Adegoke and Anupreeta Das in New York and Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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posted July 08, 2009 03:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for a   Click Here to Email a     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sun Valley: Diller and Malone Pessimistic on Twitter

Allen & Co.’s Sun Valley, Idaho, media fest got off to a gloomy start Wednesday, with downbeat panel discussions on the economy (getting worse) and the digital future (looking murky).
eisner_DV_20090708135316.jpgBloomberg News
Michael Eisner, founder of Tornante and former Disney CEO, arrives for a session during the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on July 8, 2009.

Erin Burnett of CNBC opened the conference by moderating a discussion between investor Wilbur Ross, MIT professor Simon Johnson and American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault.

The prognosis for the economy from the experts was bearish, according to members of the audience. “It was interesting but gloomy,” said Ken Auletta, the New Yorker writer who attended the meeting, closed to press.

In an interview after the panel, Liberty Media Chairman John Malone said that he agreed with Ross’ bleak assessment of the U.S. economy, but said he was encouraged that Ross is still considering investments in the U.S. “Maybe that means he thinks it’s reached a bottom,” Malone said.

The digital future was painted in equally dark terms during the second panel discussion between Malone, IAC Chairman Barry Diller and Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger. Despite the hype about Twitter, Diller was pessimistic about Twitter’s prospects for making money, audience members said.
diller_D_20090708141153.jpgBloomberg News
Barry Diller, CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp., right, walks with his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, to an Allen & Co. session Wednesday.

Malone said he didn’t think that an advertising model made sense on Twitter, but there was some hope for a subscription model. “Sooner or later people will be willing to pay for these services,” he said. Warren Buffett privately told him that he would pay $5 a month for YouTube, he added.

Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter, was in the audience but didn’t speak up to defend his property, these people said. After the event, he walked out alone and declined to talk to the press.

The discussion was a sharp contrast to conference organizer Herb Allen’s cheerful interview that appeared this morning in the Idaho Mountain Express. “It’s not an economic downturn, it’s an opportunity,” he told the paper. “This is a pretty optimistic crowd looking to get things done — they’re not anchored in the past.”

Maybe not, but they’re still unsure of the future. “No one had any answers” about making money on the Internet, said Auletta, who moderated the panel.

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posted July 09, 2009 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for HollywoodProducer   Click Here to Email HollywoodProducer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Business lessons learned from Monty Python...

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posted July 02, 2010 11:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At Sun Valley, Brighter Moods May Not Mean Big Deals

Filed at 11:02 a.m. ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As Rupert Murdoch, Bob Iger and other media honchos assemble in Sun Valley next week for some fly-fishing or white water rafting, spirits should be brighter than a year ago: stock prices are up by about a third, after all.

That alone provides the currency and freedom to get down to the real business of the media summit, one that boutique investment bank Allen & Co annually hosts in the shadow of the Pioneer Mountains in Idaho. For the past 27 years, the Sun Valley Lodge has been the spot where blockbuster media deals have been hatched.

Even in 2009, when advertising revenues nosedived, Comcast Corp's co-founder Ralph Roberts had the moxie to talk to General Electric Co Chief Executive Jeff Immelt about a deal for NBC Universal.

This year, it could be Walt Disney Co CEO Iger who finds himself center stage amid speculation he may shop ABC -- something Disney has denied. Or veteran dealer Barry Diller from IAC/InterActiveCorp, who has said he would look at a deal involving his search engine.

New media hotshots like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Zynga -- on nearly everyone's wish list -- are also expected to attend. As are Google Inc, Time Warner Inc, News Corp, all flush with cash.

"You would think this is going to be a pretty exciting Allen event," said Mike Vorhaus, managing director of consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates. "Fundamentally, the people at that place, every single one of them, is worth 30 percent or 40 percent more than they were a year ago."

Still, once they step off their private jets and settle in fireside, media chiefs may not be much in the mood for dealmaking, given jittery financial markets and fears the U.S. is heading into a double-dip recession.

Jonathan Knee, a media banker at Evercore Partners Inc, said most executives remain "gun-shy" and any dealmaking would likely involve cable channels or modest new media plays, rather than the blockbuster takeovers.

"The brief euphoria of the beginning of the year has been tempered dramatically both by the recent volatility in the economy and even the quarterly results," said Knee.

"People are glad it's not the bloodbath they thought it might be last year, but I don't think that any believes they have permanently dodged a bullet."


Among the concerns that could unnerve CEOs is consumer confidence, fragile European economies and, closer to home, a shift in media power from companies that produce entertainment, such as CBS Corp, to those that deliver it, such as Time Warner Cable or Apple Inc.

As head of Apple, Steve Jobs has become perhaps the most commanding and recognizable figure in media today. Jobs is on the guest list for the Sun Valley conference, but it's not clear if he will show up.

Present or not, Jobs will no doubt feature prominently in discussions about new media business models in the digital age, especially in the wake of the successful iPad launch. Apple has already sold more than 3 million of the multimedia tablets, even though it has struck relatively few content deals with the entertainment companies.

Paul Levinson, an author and professor of media studies at Fordham University, is among those who say that traditional content is no longer king, having given way to hot devices and popular digital media.

"Ultimately, what moves the industry forward is the new media and devices and the public's love of them," he said. "Remember, live theater was once the main entertainment."

Others point out that critics have talked about traditional media companies turning into dinosaurs for years. But they have repeatedly shown their staying power -- as evidenced by the attention they draw each summer at Sun Valley.

That is not to say that old school media chiefs won't be harboring new media dreams during cocktail hour at the lodge.

"They are all still looking, and they are all still hoping, and you will still see dabbling," said Evercore's Knee. "But if it is a halfway decent business they are unlikely to be the high bidder and if it's a really large business they risk extraordinary shareholder wrath."

(Reporting by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Derek Caney)

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posted July 06, 2010 09:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Media and Tech Confer in Sun Valley


Investment bank Allen & Co.'s exclusive annual media conference begins Tuesday with moguls swooping into Sun Valley, Idaho, for several days of panels, clandestine meetings and bike rides.

And, as has been the trend in recent years, Allen & Co. gatekeepers have invited a number of technology entrepreneurs and executives in addition to the traditional coterie of film, television and publishing chiefs.

This year's attendee list includes Facebook Inc.'s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who is attending for the first time. Mark Pincus, chief executive of online gaming giant Zynga Game Network Inc., will be there, along with some lesser-known tech insiders, such as Gina Bianchini, former CEO of social-networking start-up Ning.

The newer arrivals will share the spotlight with the conference's usual stable of media titans, some of whom have been attending for decades. They include Walt Disney Co. chief Bob Iger, Viacom Inc. CEO Phillippe Dauman, News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch, and Barry Diller, chief executive of IAC/InterActiveCorp.

A few hundred executives and family members attend a schedule of sessions, meals and drinks. But don't expect too much mingling between the groups. One thing that often goes unsaid about the conference is that it is really two parallel ones, say several long-time attendees. While the tech and media businesses continue to converge, their social circles don't.

"Traditional media guys are cynics," says one regular attendee commenting on how each side keeps its distance. "If the thing doesn't make money, they don't talk about it."

So what will each group be buzzing about this year?

Look for the media insiders to discuss what Comcast Corp. will do with NBC Universal and its chief executive, Jeff Zucker, if regulators bless its bid to control the company. (The deal was negotiated in part at the conference last year. Mr. Zucker, a regular attendee, is expected to be there this week.) The fate of ABC is also likely to be a topic of conversation. Disney denied rumors that it has considered selling ABC, but chatter persists. With more moguls putting their content behind a paywall, expect talk about the wisdom of a subscription model for newspapers and TV shows and the iPad.

The techies and their deal-makers are likely to be brainstorming more potential combinations and content-swapping deals between AOL Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc., as all three plot ways to compete with ever-expanding Google. The escalating war between Google and Apple Inc. is another likely topic of conversation. Guests shouldn't expect an onsite showdown. While some Googlers are expected to attend, Apple CEO Steve Jobs isn't.

One thing that could get both sides buzzing would be a deal, particularly an Internet-focused one. But despite signs that deal-making is picking up again, several people who plan to attend this year say they aren't holding their breath. The last big Internet acquisition traced to the conference was Google's Inc.'s $1.65 billion purchase of YouTube in 2006.

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posted January 12, 2011 11:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidChang   Click Here to Email DavidChang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, the WME are leaving their Beverly Hills headquarters for Rancho Las Palmas resort for 36 hours starting tomorrow because it's retreat time. (CAA Retreating... With Tom Cruise) A chance to reflect on 2010 and renew for 2011. An opportunity to hug it out. A plan to study up. I've learned that 8 courses will be offered during WME's retreat on subjects ranging from investment banking to the online book business to meditation. Some outsiders and some insiders will do the teaching. (Fortunately or unfortunately, Ari Emanuel is not one of them.)

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posted January 26, 2011 03:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidChang   Click Here to Email DavidChang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great stuff.

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posted July 14, 2012 08:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Khan Manka attended again this year and did another stellar write-up from the inside...

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