Allen & Company is a boutique investment bank and is particularly known for organizing the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference each year. The investment bank operates out of New York City and focuses on media, new media, communications, technology, and entertainment investments and helps companies find business partners, purchasers, and investors. Allen & Company was founded in 1922 by Charles Allen Jr. and has worked on deals with Google, Twitter, Facebook, Activision, eBay, Verizon, and Time Warner.
Allen & Company is an institutional broker and money manager for high-net-worth individuals and provides merger and acquisition, underwriting, and related advisory services. The managing directors of the bank have included some well-known individuals, such as former Director of the CIA George Tenet, former senators Bob Kerrey and Bill Bradley, and founder of DLJ Dan Lufkin.
Allen & Company is considered to be different from other investment banks. It has no website, it does not release a lot of press releases about present deals, there is not a large menu of financial services, and there is no research division, employment contact, or formal recruiting process. But the bank has a good reputation earned over its time as a semi-secretive and exclusive corporate bank and works with some of the biggest names in corporate America.
Allen & Company was founded by Charles Allen Jr., who quit school at age fifteen to become a runner on the New York Stock Exchange before founding the investment house. Charles Allen was joined later by his brothers, Herbert and Harold Allen. The investment firm engaged early in global investment-banking endeavors, particularly during the Depression years when the firm was able to buy large blocks of stocks at bargain prices.
This capital was used to later provide the initial capital for companies such as the Syntex Corporation or the Teleregister Corporation. Other early ventures, directed by Charles Allen Jr., included oil and mineral developments in Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and Muaritania and gold mines in the Philippines and the Grand Bahama Port Authority in the Bahamas. He served as the director of many major companies, including Pepsico, the Ogden Corporation, CF&I Steel Corporation, Warner Brothers, and the Ambac Corporation.
Herbert Allen's son, Herbert Allen Jr., expanded the firm after receiving roles in leadership from his uncle and father. In 2002, control of the company was passed to Herbert Allen Jr., son's Herbert Allen III. The son, Herbert Allen III ("Herb"), keeps a lower profile than those of his family who came before. As part of the transition in 2002, the family firm changed part of its organization, including moving its corporate arm and related operations to Allen & Company LLC, although this did not change the functioning of the firm. The original company continues to function as an investment vehicle and had an estimated net worth of $1 billion in 2004. The LLC, the guiding organization, had about $40 million of capital in 2004—the period of this reorganization—but could use the capital from the more financially flush company for the LLC's underwriting business. This complex organization of the firm has been noted as part of the firm's investment and operation strategy and part of attempts to remain private and quiet.
The Sun Valley Conference put on by Allen & Company was initially established in 1983 and takes place in Sun Valley, Idaho, for a week each year. The conference is a gathering of major political figures, business leaders, and other leading figures in philanthropic and cultural spheres. The conference includes various activities and discussions regarding the top deals that are occurring in various industries and the changes occurring with the way business is done—such as in 2011, when the attendees of the conference were known to be discussing the overhaul of long-standing business models towards digital services and business models.
Spotting attendees of the conference has long been a way that some have attempted to understand the events of the week and what deals may or may not be discussed during the week. For example, in 2017, some of those who attended the week-long conference included Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, then-Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and Disney Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg.
The firm specializes in high-level connections among investors, media executives, and related power brokers. It does not release splashy press notices of its deals and prefers to keep its deals under the radar, in the same way the firm prefers to work. However, deals the firm has been a part of have been revealed over time. It has invested in and completed deals with numerous companies, including Coca-Cola (on whose Board Herbert Allen III sits), News Corp., and Google. One of the Allens has sat on the board of Coca-Cola since 1982, at which time Allen & Company sold its stake in Columbia Pictures to the soft-drink company.
Other transactions the company has been a part of include being one of the underwriters for Google's 2004 initial public offering, being the sole advisor to Activision in the company's $18 billion merger with Vivendi Games in 2007; serving as financial advisor to Activision Blizzard during its 2022 sales to Microsoft; acting as one of the seven underwriters on Twitter's 2013 initial public offering; being an advisor to Facebook in Facebook's $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014; and serving as an advisor in further sales, such as Time Warner's 2015 merger with Charter Communications and Time Warner's $108 billion acquisition by AT&T, AOL in their acquisition by Verizon, Centene Corporation in its acquisition of Health Net, eBay in its separation from PayPal, LinkedIn in its merger with Microsoft, Walmart in its purchase of Jet.com, Verizon in its acquisition of Yahoo!, and Chewy.com in its acquisition by PetSmart.
The firm has also been party to various sales of parts of different sports teams, such as working in 2011 to sell a minority part of the New York Mets and conducting the sale of the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers in 2018 for the respective prices of $4.65 billion and $2.275 billion. The firm was reportedly retained by Jeff Bezos for his planned sale of the Washington Commanders in 2023.
Allen & Co. Flourishes as a Tech Deal Maker
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February 21, 2014
From Ferrari to Facebook: the incredible client list of Wall Street's most secretive firm
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Herb Allen III: The New Establishment
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Inside the Private World of Allen & Co. Putting a premium on personal ties, this family firm thrives in the land of the giants. - June 28, 2004
Jeff Bezos hires Allen & Company to evaluate Washington Commanders bid, says report - SportsPro
February 24, 2023