Neither divorce nor extramarital affairs nor disclosures of meetings with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein will apparently keep Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates from attending this year’s media and tech mogul conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.
People close to conference organizers tell FOX Business that Gates is still scheduled to make an appearance sometime on Friday. Speculation is swirling here he will be giving a speech on climate change, one of the key issues that his charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is addressing.
A session preaching the perils of climate change to people who flew to the event on their own carbon-emitting Gulfstream jets rankled some business leaders contacted by FOX Business. "Talking climate change on his private jet?" one CEO remarked with a laugh. It could not be determined how Gates is traveling to the conference.
FOX Business first reported earlier in the week that Gates was a confirmed attendee even if such arrangements can change at the last minute. Logistical issues such as securing transportation to this tiny hamlet in the mountains of Idaho can be tenuous.
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Conference organizers Allen & Co. canceled last year’s event because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But this year’s event — known as the billionaires' summer camp — includes most of the media and tech titans that appeared in the past. Invitees include Jeff Bezos, who stepped down as chief of Amazon this week, and Andy Jassy, his replacement, along with Shari Redstone of ViacomCBS, and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook. Legendary investor Warren Buffet is also in attendance.
Gates, who is worth $129 billion per Forbes, resigned as Microsoft CEO in 2014 but has come to the conference in the past. This year's scheduled appearance raised eyebrows because it coincided with several recent embarrassing disclosures.
They included new revelations about his relationship with Epstein; Gates has a more extensive relationship with the pedophile than previously reported. The two held several meetings after Epstein’s initial conviction and before he faced additional child sex charges. Epstein hung himself in his jail cell in 2019.
Meanwhile, Gates announced he and his wife Melinda will be divorcing, though they will try and jointly run their high-profile charity together. Earlier in the year he also resigned from the board of Microsoft following a company investigation into a previous relationship with an employee of the tech giant. Gates has said the relationship ended amicably and his resignation from the board was unrelated to the affair.
None of this seems to matter to conference hosts, Allen & Co., the investment-banking boutique that specializes in media and tech deals. Gates’s scheduled appearance will likely be among the most well-attended events at the gabfest, where moguls think big thoughts and occasionally cobble together deals.
Reps for Gates and Allen & Co. didn’t return requests for comment.