High-tech meeting slated | AspenTimes.com

High-tech meeting slated

Brent Gardner-SmithAspen Times Staff Writer

The Fortune magazine conference and Aspen Institute Board of Trustees meeting this week are not the only high-level gatherings scheduled for this summer in Aspen.Another conference, one with a high-tech angle, will be held in Aspen from Aug. 18-20.It’s the sixth Aspen summit put together by the Progress and Freedom Foundation, a market-oriented think tank in Washington, D.C.Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, will be keynoting the conference, which attracts influential people from the high-tech sector and government.Which is not necessarily hard to do when the meeting is in August, in Aspen.”We have better attendance and a stronger program that we’ve ever had,” said Jeffrey Eisenach, foundation president. “And people have told us the venue has a lot to do with it.”And in September, the A-plus-list Forstmann Little conference is expected to return to Aspen after having to cancel last year’s event, which was set for the weekend of Sept. 14-15. Forstmann Little and Co. is a leading investment firm in New York City run by Red Mountain resident Ted Forstmann, who is the major benefactor behind Aspen’s Silver Lining Ranch.His annual Aspen gathering has been put in the same “power camp” league by Time magazine as the Allen & Co. media meeting in Sun Valley, Idaho; the Bohemian Grove seminar; the Renaissance Weekend known for spending New Year’s in Hilton Head, S.C.; and the World Economic Forum.Calls to Forstmann Little to confirm that the event was coming back to Aspen this September were directed to the company’s New York public relations firm.”I’m sorry, I can’t comment on this issue,” said Kyle Decker, a senior account executive at Citigate Sard Verbinnen in New York City.The event is usually held at the Hotel Jerome. This year, the hotel is holding a block of rooms for the group, although the hotel general’s manager, Tony DiLucia, declined to discuss whether the conference was in fact being held at the Jerome.And the group usually rents the Wheeler Opera House for a private concert with a nationally known pop star, which it is expected to do again on Saturday, Sept. 14, although the staff at the Wheeler does not yet know which artist will be performing.It was reported in the New York Post and the Rocky Mountain News that 300 people were expected to attend last September’s event, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, former NBA star Charles Barkley, Star Wars creator George Lucas, and President Bush’s top strategist, Karl Rove.In prior years, the Forstmann Little conference has attracted South African leader Nelson Mandela, media tycoon Oprah Winfrey, former New Yorker and Talk magazine editor Tina Brown and Richard Branson of the Virgin Group.[Brent Gardner-Smith’s e-mail address is bgs@aspentimes.com]

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