The Las Vegas of leadership conferences has returned to Redmond, Wash. this week — and just like in previous years, what happens there stays there.
Microsoft’s super-secretive CEO Summit is wrapping up Thursday at the company’s headquarters. Scant details have been released about the conference, but Microsoft did confirm that attendees include Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Coca-Cola Chairman Muhtar Kent, 3G Capital co-founder Jorge Paolo Lemann, Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, and Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.
We also know separately that IAC and Expedia chairman Barry Diller is in town for the event. He stopped by the Expedia anniversary celebration yesterday, just down the road in Bellevue, where GeekWire caught up with him for a few minutes.
More than 130 CEOs from the world’s leading corporations attended the Microsoft CEO Summit for panel discussions on topics like “Navigating Market Volatility” and “Driving Growth with Technology.”
The objectives of the conference are to “drive awareness of new technology megatrends and their impact on business and society” and “enable an elite group of top-level executives to explore issues around managing global corporations,” according to Microsoft’s FAQ.
So why the secrecy? Microsoft says the conference is designed to foster private and informal interactions between leaders who are constantly in the public eye.
Bill Gates organized the inaugural CEO Summit in 1997. Over the years, the elite event has become even more low-profile. In 2014, Microsoft stopped releasing any photos from inside the conference.
The increased furtiveness may have been a response to reporters’ attempts to penetrate the event. In 2008, The Seattle Times sifted through registrations of planes on the tarmac at Boeing Field to gain insights into the guest list. Four years earlier, a Wired reporter infiltrated the conference’s pre-party, witnessing some privileged conversations between CEOs.
The event “delivers to participants a unique experience of discussion and interaction among worldwide business leaders set in an intimate business environment,” the company says.