WME is wrapping up its third day of its annual retreat at La Costa Resort & Spa and the roster of speakers the agency has put together is looking more and more each year like a mini-Herb Allen Sun Valley Conference. The mini, however, is major with 450 WME agents gathered to listen to such prominent names as former CIA director and four-star Gen. Michael Hayden who once headed the National Security Administration and returned again this year. He headlines a roster that includes former and current Google and Facebook executives and even more political heavies. Also, one of the highlights, agents say, was Anne Wojciciki, one of the co-founders of 23andMe, a biotech and genomics company which her husband’s company Google invested heavily into (along with Genetech). It produces direct-to-consumer personal genome test kits that can determine inherited traits and genetic risk factors. Another speaker said to have one of the strongest presentations was Regina Dugan, the former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the first first female director to run the intelligence group before leaving for Google. She spoke about ingenuity and how you can be successful if you use the tools presented before you. She has previously done a series of TED talks. “It’s been really quite remarkable this year,” said one agent in attendance. “It like a bunch of really cool TED talks. I have learned so much.”
Each year WME executives Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell gather their agents for three days to listen to talks from some of the most influential people in America. This year’s lineup is said to include Deputy NSA Advisor Thomas Donilon, who stepped down in June 2013 and has worked with the Obama administration in various capacities; and Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer for Facebook and author of the book Lean-In about how to motivate women to take their place in the executive ranks. She is on the board of the Walt Disney Co. and used to work at Google in sales and helped launch Google’s philanthrophic endeavors. She was also the chief of staff for the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Joining them are Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom (who previously worked at Google where he helped implement Gmail and other offerings); Mixed in with this prestigious group of political and tech speakers will be Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation, which owns and operates some of the country’s largest amphitheaters and and concert venues such as the House of Blues, Hollywood Palladium, and Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Guests also include WME’s rapper-musician-composer-producer Pharrell Williams and Snoop Dogg. Read More »
“This is not how we planned it,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg tells CNBC’s Julia Boorstin about the 42% decline in the company’s shares since its IPO in May. But the exec pretty much sticks to the company’s rah-rah script. “We are a more valuable company than we were four months ago,” she says:
Odd that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn’t think of this a few months ago, before his company went public with its all-male board. But after enduring attacks from women’s rights groups led by UltraViolet, the company today says that COO Sheryl Sandberg will join the exclusive club. “Sheryl has been my partner in running Facebook and has been central to our growth and success over the years,” Zuckerberg says. “Her understanding of our mission and long-term opportunity, and her experience both at Facebook and on public company boards makes her a natural fit for our board.” Sandberg, who has an MBA from Harvard, also is a director for Disney, Women for Women International, the Center for Global Development and V-Day. Facebook notes in an SEC filing that Sandberg will receive no additional pay for her board work. She received nearly $31M in compensation last year. Facebook’s board also includes Zuckerberg, investor Marc Andreessen, University of North Carolina president emeritus Erskine Bowles, Accell Partners’ James Breyer, Washington Post Co CEO Donald Graham, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, and Founders Fund CEO Peter Thiel.
Call over to WME and you’ll find that the female agents and some assorted staffers “are having a day”, as it was explained to me. Usually these Hollywood agencies go on retreat en masse or by department. Instead, WME is doing it by sex for the first time. The women are listening to a keynote address by Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook COO who oversees the company’s business operations including sales, marketing, business development, human resources, public policy, and communications. She was also instrumental in launching Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, and served as Chief of Staff for the U.S. Treasury Department under President Clinton. She sits on the board of The Walt Disney Co.
Are you a big-name executive capable of cultivating relationships and striking deals with the film and music industries? If you are, Facebook wants you, according to a report from Reuters. The social media titan wants to make media a major part of its offerings. It talked with former MySpace co-president and former MTV exec Jason Hirschhorn about a job heading the company’s outreach to media companies, the report says, but a deal was not reached. Facebook has made some recent inroads with Hollywood: COO Sheryl Sandberg joined Disney’s board of directors in 2009, and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings took a seat on Facebook’s board in June. Jim Breyer of Accel Partners, Facebook’s largest outside investor, last month was nominated to the News Corp board. He sits on the Legendary Pictures board and was a director at Marvel before Disney bought it. Facebook has also cut deals to offer films from Warner Bros and Universal for streaming. And it should have some money to throw at the new hire: Facebook will generate $4.2B in revenue this year, more than double the $2B it made in 2010, according to research firm EMarketer Inc.