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Seattle tech moguls likely to shape Skype-Facebook deal in Idaho

Media moguls gather in Sun Valley, Idaho this week at a summit known for producing major business deals.
Steve Platzer
Media moguls gather in Sun Valley, Idaho this week at a summit known for producing major business deals.

Some of the biggest names in media and technology converge on Sun Valley, Idaho this week.

They're attending an annual retreat known to produce major industry-shaping business deals – one of those deals likely to be shaped involves Microsoft, Facebook and Skype.

In the Idaho foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the early buzz is over Hulu, an online video streaming site. Yahoo, Google and Microsoft are all said to be contenders to buy the site. And as it happens they all have executives taking in the views at Sun Valley.

The Facebook-Skype deal

A Saturday event, however, is expected to be especially well attended. Microsoft founder Bill Gates is scheduled to interview Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The two tech moguls have a lot to talk about with the launch of a new feature on Facebook. 

Microsoft owns a piece of the social networking company and could benefit from the site’s recent addition of video chatting capabilities. 

The service allows you to see and hear your “friends” on Facebook using technology from online phone company Skype … another business Microsoft could have its fingers in soon.  It’s in the process of buying Skype for more than $8 billion. 

No one knows yet if the new video chat feature will recoup any of that cash since it’ll be free when it rolls out. Incidentally, the feature was created locally by a team in Facebook’s Seattle office.

Relaxed atmosphere

The annual meeting is hosted by investment bank Allen and Company.

Journalist David Gelles of the Financial Times says the atmosphere is more relaxed than your typical suit and tie industry gathering.

"These moguls are walking around in their Bahama shorts and their Hawaiian t-shirts and they're spending the afternoon with their families going river rafting," Gelles said. "But at the same time some very serious business is getting done behind the scenes."

Gelles says often no one knows what deals are hatched in Sun Valley until months later. Most famously, the Idaho meeting laid the groundwork for Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal in 2009.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Charla joined us in January, 2010 and is excited to be back in Seattle after several years in Washington, DC, where she was a director and producer for NPR. Charla has reported from three continents and several outlets including Marketplace, San Francisco Chronicle and NPR. She has a master of journalism from University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor's degree in architecture from University of Washington.
Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.