Photographers' Blog

Chasing the rich and (some) not-so-famous

Sun Valley, Idaho

By Rick Wilking

In between covering tornadoes and forest fires this year I have covered several business conferences and related stories. Starting with the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, to the SALT hedge fund conference, to the Wal-Mart annual meeting I’m now at the big kahuna, the Allen and Company conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Never heard of the Allen and Co. conference? Well maybe that’s because most of the attendees are people you’ve never heard of either. Even though they are millionaires and billionaires, huge investors and big-time global CEOs, most of the people here stay far off the radar. Even if you have heard of their companies you probably haven’t heard of their leaders, let alone seen a picture of them.

But then there’s the “A-Listers” of technology and media companies attending. Many people have heard of Mark Zuckerberg (founder and CEO of Facebook) or Tim Cook (the new CEO of Apple, replacing the late Steve Jobs) or the venerable Warren Buffet. But have you heard of Philippe Dauman? (CEO of Viacom, the company behind networks like MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central and movie studio Paramount.)

How about Rakuten and its CEO Hiroshi Mikitani? It’s the Amazon of Japan and he’s a billionaire.

Covering the conference is more challenging than it might appear. The media here is tolerated but only to a point. The host only allows you on the (private) property mostly because we all stay at the hosting Sun Valley Resort and are thus also guests. They won’t credential us or give us any access to the meeting itself at all. David Zaslav, the CEO of Discovery Communications (one of the few CEOs who actually are willing to talk to us) put it well today when he said to me while waiting outside the meeting “they want you here but they don’t want you here. They do want the pictures though.”

Like the new Facebook HQ?

By Bob Galbraith

Greeted by a giant “thumbs up” as I arrived at the destination of Facebook’s new headquarters in the heart of Silicon Valley, I thought at first that I had landed on a college campus. Neat red stucco buildings, wide sidewalks with leaves still on trees, young people walking around with backpacks and riding bicycles between the buildings added to that feeling. It wasn’t long before I realized the atmosphere didn’t change much once I got inside; more like a quiet spring break.

The second stop following standard registration took me to the laundry room, where neatly hung and freshly done laundry filled rows of bags hanging from ceiling racks. As an apartment dweller in a city where doing laundry means dragging the dirties through the streets of San Francisco to the nearest Laundromat, I asked “You can have your laundry done while you work?”

Rounding corner after corner and department to department brought little, yet lots, of change to the environment. Open work spaces define the inside of the buildings on the 57-acre campus, with employees deciding whether to sit or stand at their place of work. Nothing separates one from another except decorations that are encouraged to be brought in and shared in common areas.

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