There was an audible cringe on Wall Street when Goldman Sachs Elevator (@gselevator, GSE) started Tweeting. It may have even been louder than the laughter.
The humorous Twitter account launched back in 2011 — it claimed to be a collection of comments heard in the halls (elevators) of Goldman Sachs from NYC to Hong Kong.
Obviously people were sceptical. Who in the cult of Goldman would betray their own? Who would Tweet things that seemed to be a caricature of what people think bankers are — selfish, entitled, racist, sexist, classist (add any ist here).
In a word: douche bags.
Here’s a sample:
This one goes out to the sceptics, and we await their commentary.
The banker behind GSE agreed to talk to Business Insider because he’s joining Gentology, an eCommerce site just for men where celebrities like the NBA’s Paul Pierce and rappers 3 Six Mafia hand pick their favourite products, from apparel to gadgets, to sell on the site. They’re called Celebrity Curators, and obviously, GSE’s celebrity lives in the same space as Gentology — online.
“I do have this intellectual curiosity with respect to the overall Twitter dynamic,” said GSE. “…I am curious to see how many people I can get to do something (starting with something as simple as clicking on a link)… In December, again just for the hell of it, I released a link to my ideal Christmas wish list (A $6k backgammon set, $18k shotgun, etc)….Fast forward to this Storefront concept..”
It’s a fast forward indeed.
Naturally, from GSE, you can expect high-end products with sarcastic twist. That is, after all, what his Twitter feed is about — airing the shocking, macho, three quarter truths that come from the mouths of Wall Streeters.
“It’s fairly easy to remain anonymous I would say,” GSE said. “I just don’t tell anyone about it. I mix and match stories. I extend the lag on something I overhear directly between when I hear it and when I tweet it. Even to this day, some tweets will be a derivative of something I might have heard (or said, sadly) 8-10-12 years ago, that had been previously unremembered. There is also a core group of trusted confidants who feed me ideas, whereby I know who they are but they don’t know me. Without stating the obvious at this point, it quite clearly goes beyond elevators and Goldman Sachs. It’s the absurd, douchey, insightful, funny, and offensive things that bankers say anywhere (elevators, hotel lobbies, airport lounges, bars, etc)…. So the amount of possible material is limitless.”
And there are no limits to what GSE will write, for the most part (he does worry about offending, say, Sallie Krawcheck or Kate Upton). The only person who knows who he is, aside from 2 or 3 close friends, is GSE’s literary agent.
Yes, there’s a book coming, but don’t expect it to be anything like Greg Smith’s ‘Why I Left Goldman Sachs’ tell-all (GSE says Smith was a “nobody”). Expect a ridiculous, raucous collection of vignettes about banking culture where the names and situations have been changed to protect the identity of others as much as GSE’s.
“Things have definitely changed,” GSE reflected. “In the mid 2000s, when shuffled the hedge fund sales team in Asia, the first thing the outgoing salesperson gave the new guy was the telephone number to his drug dealer. That’s 100% true. It’s not quite like that anymore, but part of that is a function of Asia growing up alot since the Asian Crisis of the late 90s. And today in New York, it’s hyper sensitive. I saw a new kid get berated recently for innocently calling someone a ‘monkey’ on the trading floor because it was deemed potentially racist.”
London, he says, is worse…Asia? Forget about it. Sill, bankers generally don’t mean everything they say, GSE pointed out.
“They do talk tougher than they are. But that’s part of the culture in terms of one-upsmanship, or who has the bigger balls so to speak. It starts as analysts… who can cheat on the homework during training, who can skip a day and get someone else to sign in for them, and then who can ‘work hard, play hard’ the hardest. Many of those cliches are pathetically true. And you just have to go to a bar where a group of analysts are hanging out to see it.”
That kind of culture is hard to change. Competition is inherent in finance. If you change things in the U.S., Europe might get an edge. Tone things down in Europe, and the cowboys in Asia will ride away with your payday.
“…it takes a certain kind of person to want to work in banking… and I don’t mean that as a compliment. Generally, it’s just someone who did well in school, is perhaps unsure of what they want to do, or don’t have the balls to go out with an idea and take a risk.”
Goldman’s response to his feed, he says, has been pitch perfect. They ignore it.
And why wouldn’t they: who’s to say Goldman Sachs Elevator is real anyway?