The sun always seems to shine in Sun Valley, a pristine mountain resort in Idaho, when the top brass from media and technology companies convene every July for a deep-think retreat hosted by the investment banker Herbert Allen. But it's the darkest of thoughts that are racing through the minds of the media power elite as they go between high-level meetings, golf and family activities: How can they survive the rapid-fire technological changes that are transforming their industries and changing the way people get news and entertainment?
This year's five-day conference, whose proceedings are private, formally kicks off on Wednesday. The attendees are among the most powerful figures in media: News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, who is in advanced talks to buy Dow Jones & Co.; Time Warner Inc. CEO Dick Parsons; Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger, and CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves, among many others. The founders of Internet search leader Google Inc., Larry Page and Sergey Brin, will also attend, as will Craig Barrett, chairman of chip maker Intel Corp.
The two top players from Yahoo Inc. will be there—Chairman Terry Semel, who was ousted as CEO less than a month ago amid shareholder frustration, as well as Jerry Yang, a co-founder of Yahoo who took his place.
Yahoo, a leader of the Internet world, has big problems of its own, lagging behind Google in lucrative search advertising. Talk was going around earlier this year that the company was discussing a combination with Microsoft Corp. And yes, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, a regular attendee, will also be in Sun Valley, as will his bridge buddy, billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Besides the many pillars of the media and technology establishment, some of the really intriguing guests are coming from newer companies that are just beginning to make names for themselves but could show media dinosaurs and technology giants some new tricks—or takeover targets.
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