Two sources have confirmed to Betabeat that Summit Series–the haute entrepreneurship conference attended by high-net-worth types like Peter Thiel, Evan Williams, Richard Branson, Chris Sacca, Sam Lessin, and Dave Morin–has raised $40 million to purchase a mountain. No, we did not take any drugs today. As Business Insider reported last week, the organizers behind Summit Series, which Forbes dubbed, “The Hipper Davos,” were trying to raise money to acquire “some permanent space” in order to “re-create a culture year-round for innovation, entrepreneurship and kindness.”
When you host events like a 60-person Cancun retreat in the midst of a crippling recession, three-day luxury jaunts to Lake Tahoe, and $3,500-a-person “shmooze cruise” to brainstorm ways to save the ocean, we guess a mountain is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “permanent space.”
One of our sources said that Summit Series, which is based in Malibu, purchased Powder Mountain resort in Utah. That was the same mountain named in the organization’s pitch to raise funds, which was leaked to Business Insider, who also reported an unconfirmed $40 million price tag.
Reached by phone, Thayer Walker, Summit Series chief reconnaissance officer, would not confirm that the mountain had been purchased. “I don’t really have anything to say about that unfortunately,” said Mr. Walker, adding, “At this point, there’s a lot of rumor, hearsay most of it.” We gave Mr. Walker the opportunity to refute that the deal had closed or the price tag, but he declined to deny it, saying Summit Series wasn’t yet ready to talk.
Powder Mountain did not immediately return a request for comment, but we will update you when we hear back.
Business Insider reported last week that Summit was looking for 40 investors to contribute $1 million a piece towards the mountain. One of our sources said that “some big names,” may be involved with the Powder Mountain deal. In Summit’s leaked pitch, the organizers wrote, “We’re in the process of bringing in our founding members, offering very aggressive financial incentive for those coming in that early and it would be great to have you out to the mountain to check it out.”
Summit Series was originally founded in 2008 by then 22-year-old Elliott Bisnow, CEO of Bisnow Media, an e-newsletter publisher based in Washington D.C. He got fellow wunderkind startup founders like College Humor’s Josh Abramson and Ricky Van Veen to attend by offering a free ticket to Park City, Utah, which he put on a credit card. He shelled out $15,000 for the first trip and $50,000 on a Mexican follow-up, but has since gotten sponsors such as GQ, Staples, and Goldman Sachs.
The organization, which used to have more of an under-35 focus, meets to discuss the problems of the word, raise money for charitable causes, and, presumably, party like it’s 1999. It’s also had an audience with both the White House and U.N. In 2009, the New York Times wrote, “It can all sound like a middle-age conspiracy theorist’s worst nightmare.” We’re guessing the mountain doesn’t necessarily help.