Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt reportedly hosted a secret summit every year since 2012 for a few politicians, executives, celebrities, and at least one journalist, according to a report by Tech Transparency Project. The report suggests there is strong evidence Schmidt used these conferences to lobby influential people on Google products under threat from federal regulations or to make way for them in the government sector.
Schmidt's invitee list included Lady Gaga, Senator Cory Booker, and journalist Ronan Farrow, among others.
The summit took place on the grounds of Yellowstone Club, an extensive private community with a ski resort, golf course, and thousands of acres of lush land where Schmidts' wealthy and high-profile guests can hike, bike, fish, and ride horses.
Attendees were given strict orders to keep their visits to this retreat in Utah private, with almost no published articles revealing what goes on in this yearly summit, according to the report.
While most retreats are common, they are well documented in the media. This includes Allen & Company's Idaho Sun Valley Conference. But it is this retreat that is shrouded in secrecy, the report says.
Ronan Farrow is said to have written a story on Google after one such visit, which proved favourable to the company.
The company fleet of Gulfstream and Boeing jets—which included a reconfigured Boeing 767 seating up to 50 people reportedly made between four and seven round trips for attendees each year, amounting to a total of at least 95 flights between 2012 and 2019 that likely carried conference guests, says TTP.
While Schmidt stepped down as Google CEO in 2011, he still remains one of the most influential public faces of the company. He has served as Alphabet executive chairman, board member, and technical adviser on many occasions and continues to be a major shareholder. This has prompted concerns on him pushing the Google agenda in an effort to advise federal and state officials, the report stated.