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Big Tech, mainstream media, and public officials to gather for secret Sun Valley conference this week

The conference is organized by the underwriter of many major Big Tech IPOs.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, Council of Foreign Relations President Richard Haass, and other influential figures from Big Tech, mainstream media, and politics are on the guest list for a private, five day Sun Valley conference in Idaho that kicks off on July 6.

The annual conference was started in 1982 by the private investment firm Allen & Company – a company that has been the underwriter for several major Big Tech initial public offerings (IPOs) and an adviser for other significant Big Tech acquisitions.

Allen & Co. was one of the underwriters for Google’s 2004 IPO, Facebook’s 2012 IPO, and Twitter’s 2013 IPO. It was also a co-manager for LinkedIn’s 2011 IPO.

Additionally, Allen & Co. advised Facebook during its 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp, eBay and PayPal during their 2015 separation, AOL when it was acquired by Verizon in 2015, Microsoft during its 2016 acquisition of LinkedIn, Time Warner when it was acquired by AT&T in 2016, Verizon during its 2016 acquisition of Yahoo, and Walmart during its 2016 acquisition of Jet.com and 2017 acquisition of PetSmart.

The Sun Valley conference has also reportedly been the place where several major Big Tech and mainstream media deals were closed including Comcast’s 2009 acquisition of NBC/Universal and Jeff Bezo’s 2013 acquisition of The Washington Post.

Not only are the conference and its organizer notable for their close ties to deals that have allowed large corporations to consolidate their power but the Big Tech executives, mainstream media representatives, and current and former public officials that are expected to attend this year’s event also have a significant influence over what people are allowed to say online.

Big Tech executives help to shape the policies that dictate what gets censored on their platform, mainstream media outlets frequently use their influence to pressure these Big Tech companies, and public officials can push for laws and regulations that impact both the tech giants and online speech.

The Big Tech executives that are expected to attend the Sun Valley conference this year include Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and Netflix CEOs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos.

The mainstream media representatives that have been invited to attend include Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, ViacomCBS chairwoman Shari Redstone, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, Discovery CEO David Zaslav, ABC News special contributor Diane Sawyer, CNN hosts Anderson Cooper and Van Jones, CNBC hosts Andrew Ross Sorkin and Becky Quick, CBS host Gayle King, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, and retired journalist Tom Brokaw.

And the current and former public officials who are on the invite list for the 2021 Sun Valley conference include Council of Foreign Relations President Richard Haass, former US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, former US Secretary of State James Baker, former Commander of the US Special Forces William McRaven, and former White House drug control policy advisor Kevin Sabet.

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