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Our Notes from a Subdued Sun Valley

Sun Valley, Idaho—There was something more mellow about Allen & Co.’s Sun Valley conference this year. Maybe it was the dwindling press corps—whittled down in parallel with reporters’ access to executives over the years.

Maybe it was the lack of big deals and news in the press. Last year, attendees were buzzing about Google’s falsely-rumored interest in buying Time Warner and the now-scuttled Time Warner Cable and Comcast merger. This year the biggest recent news was the sudden departure of Dick Costolo from Twitter.

As for the topics on the formal agenda, they were fairly evergreen: building a fashion business, green energy and the Middle East, among them. Few new entrepreneurs attended. The leaders of crowdfunding company Patreon and local search company Thumbtack landed speaking slots. But the annual “New Breed” session, which consists of pitches from young hot companies, also featured the decidedly “Old Breed” Max Levchin, a serial entrepreneur and Allen & Co. veteran who pitched his new credit startup Affirm.

Here are our takeaways from the week based on meetings with attendees.

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