Frank Quattrone is back.
During the internet boom Quattrone was the most powerful investment banker in Silicon Valley.
His name — or technically, that of Credit Suisse or Deutsche Bank or whatever big name bank was paying his team of tech bankers at the time — was on hundreds of IPOs, notable for shares that ran up 300% or so on the first day of trading. Unfortunately, many of those IPOS — such as that of FogDog — would come to be shorthand for the excesses of the era.
And when that happened Credit Suisse — like other investment banks — would come under fire, and SEC investigation, for fueling the stock market frenzy that enabled special institutional investors to “flip” shares in IPOs and realise a guaranteed one-day profit while the brokerages kept prices soaring by pawning the things off on retail investors.
When the SEC launched a probe, Quattrone sent his team an email ever-so-subtly instructing them to delete all the other emails he’d sent them, and the feds charged him with obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
Within a few more years, Quattrone had been convicted. Then his his conviction was overturned. And, after the panic of 2008, now it all sounds quaint:
He decided to get back to the business he knows best: advising technology entrepreneurs who want to “change the world to make it a better place,” as he put it — and making lots of money in the process.
Quattrone has advised about 20 companies since starting a boutique merchant bank last year, and he describes his role in the Valley thusly:
“catalyst, and possibly senior adviser, cheerleader, truth-teller, participant.”
Here’s what you can say for Frank: he’s still there.
He didn’t rotate out of IPOs into CDOs, he didn’t quit flipping tech stocks to flip houses, and there’s no federally-funded liquidity stream propping up his business.
It was always said of Frank Quattrone that he “vibrated at the same frequency” as the tech geeks he did business with, and maybe that alone is what this financial sector needs: bankers who actually like their industries and command the respect and appreciation of the people they do business with. It’s a dying breed.
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