Warren Buffett out, Mark Zuckerberg in: Here are the biggest names that will be attending, and notably absent from, the annual summer camp for billionaires

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Each year, an A-list group of CEOs, billionaire investors, university leaders, and politicians gather at Allen and Co.’s eponymously named Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho for what many have labeled a “summer camp for billionaires.” It’s an infamously private event that’s been closed to the press since it began in 1983, but the deals that are made inside this summer camp often have wide ranging impacts globally. Jeff Bezos famously hashed out the details of his Washington Post purchase at Sun Valley in 2013, for example, and Disney and ABC executives did something similar in the weeks before their merger in 1995.

This year, the guest list at the exclusive event will be as impressive as ever, with big names including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Meta co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Disney CEO Bob Iger, as well Amazon’s CEO Andy Jassy and founder Jeff Bezos all planning to attend, according to a guest list seen by Variety. However, Sun Valley will also be down one oracle. 

Buffett is staying home

The 94-year-old chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett, also known as the Oracle of Omaha, won’t be attending what has long been one of his favorite events. Instead, he’s sending his protégé and eventual successor, Berkshire’s vice chairman of non-insurance businesses Greg Abel.

It’s a big shift for Buffett, who has regularly attended Sun Valley since the 1980s, where guests can indulge in fly fishing and horseback riding while they stay at one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite spots, the now over $1,200 per night Sun Valley Lodge. While it’s not Abel’s first year attending Sun Valley, it will be his first year as the figurehead representing Berkshire. 

Buffett’s absence could be seen as another sign that he’s handing over more responsibility, and more public attention, to Abel as he ages. 

After the death of Charlie Munger, the Oracle of Omaha’s former right-hand man, last November, succession plans at Berkshire have been thrust into the spotlight. But Buffett has made it clear that he’s been leaning on Abel for some time at Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting this year, which some have labeled a “Woodstock for Capitalists.” It seems Buffett is confident there won’t be many changes at Berkshire once he’s gone.

“I don’t really do much and I don’t operate at the same level of efficiency that I would have thirty years ago or forty years ago…when you’ve got somebody like Greg (Abel) and Ajit (Jain), why settle for me? It has worked out extremely well,” he told Berkshire’s shareholders, also referencing Ajit Jain, who runs the conglomerate’s insurance businesses.

Ever since Abel was named Buffett’s likely successor in 2021, there have been questions as to whether the Berkshire veteran, who started his career as an accountant before becoming an energy executive and eventually taking over Berkshire’s non-insurance businesses, has the investing chops of his predecessor. But Buffett emphasized his confidence in his protégé at Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting this year.

“If I were on that board and making that decision, I would probably, knowing Greg, I would leave the capital allocation to Greg,” he said. “He understands businesses extremely well, and if you understand businesses you understand common stocks.”

Another missing titan

Buffett isn’t the only big name who plans on skipping Sun Valley this year—Tesla CEO Elon Musk also won’t be attending. In 2022, Musk gave a marque address at the event, but his performance left attendees wanting more after he declined to answer questions from OpenAI CEO Sam Altman about his then still-brewing Twitter acquisition in a follow-up panel, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources.

It’s not entirely surprising that Musk is avoiding Sun Valley, given the billionaire entrepreneur has made far fewer public appearances and given far fewer interviews in recent years, instead opting to speak to the public via X (formerly Twitter) on a daily basis. 

Musk’s refusal to attend, or answer pressing questions, does stand in stark contrast with his more-media friendly past, however. In 2015, after the explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket that was supposed to send cargo to the International Space Station—one of SpaceX’s biggest setbacks—Musk faced the media, giving an exclusive interview to CNBC where he promised to figure out what went wrong and fix it.

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