John Lefevre, the banker behind Goldman Sachs Elevator Sets the record straight.
Many months ago, I tweeted about totaling a new Maserati, which is something that actually happened to me. I should have seen it coming; I was so intoxicated when I bought the car (just 5 days previously) that the dealership had to drive me home in it.
Right after that tweet, I had a few friends email me and say that I must be the person behind GSElevator.
Again last year, when I collaborated with CNBC’s John Carney to put together our fantastic piece, “How to Be A Man,” I received a few more emails from people identifying me as the source. After all, recommending a hair cut by Sammy at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong is hardly subtle. He’s so old and so shaky that it’s always been a running joke of mine to send visiting colleagues his way for a straight razor shave.
And it’s happened again and again over the last few years. So, I’ve never shied away from projecting my true personality in the @GSElevator Twitter feed. It’s part of that same personality that has always flown close to the sun, and, of course, has had a colorful and distinguished career on Wall Street.
Along the way, I’ve never worried about making enemies or becoming a lightening rod for criticism. I’ve always been fine with that; I embrace it.
However, in light of recent events, I thought it was prudent to provide a bit of clarity and context around my Twitter account, the book, and me as a person.
Being outed has always been part of the plan…
The issue of my anonymity was simply a device, and one that has suited the construct of the Twitter feed. GSElevator has never been an anonymous person. It’s not a person at all. It’s the embodiment or aggregation of “every banker,” a concentrated reflection of a Wall Street culture and mentality.
Being anonymous had this enigmatic mystery and intrigue; it protected my privacy, but also prevented me as a person from getting in the way of the message. But to be clear, it was never about hiding.
In fact, I’ve always expected to be outed, especially given the sensitive and personal nature of many of the stories coming in the book. It’s part of the process – liberating me to speak even more candidly and credibly about the vantage point from which I have observed and enjoyed my outrageous Wall Street experiences.
I started as an intern in 2000 for Salomon Brothers in London on the Victoria Plaza trading floor of Liar’s Poker fame. My wild ride formally commenced the following year, beginning in the wake of the dotcom bubble bursting, and carrying me across three continents, and through the worst financial crisis in generations.
Have I been in their elevators? Too many times to count.
But Greg Smith tried writing that book, and it was boring as hell…
The Twitter feed…
For the avoidance of any doubt, any person who actually thought my Twitter feed was literally about verbatim conversations overhead in the elevators of Goldman Sachs is an idiot.
Newsflash: GSElevator has never been about elevators. And, it’s never been specifically about Goldman Sachs; it’s about illuminating Wall Street culture in a fun and entertaining way. Without highlighting the obvious evolution of the tweets into more generally appealing observations, let’s start with the simple fact that each of my tweets says “Sent from Twitter for Mac,” hardly the work of someone pretending to be hiding in the walls of 200 West.
Being called a “fake” or a “hoax” by the same people who embraced me as “satire” is simply laughable – and it really speaks to the silly and opportunistic attempts at cheap headlines.
I have been completely transparent in saying that my tweets are edited, curated, and crafted, in a way that I think will best resonate and still embody the soul and mentality of Wall Street. My focus has been to entertain and enlighten, without being completely devoid of substance and insight.
The book is not about Twitter; it’s a collection of true stories from my experiences directing traffic at Wall Street’s epicenter – the bond syndicate desk.
I sat above the Chinese Wall – straddling the private side (Investment Banking) and the public side (Sales & Trading). I helped companies raise billions of dollars, companies like Ford, General Electric, AIG, Unilever, Rolls-Royce, GlaxoSmithKline, and Diageo… and then Korean and Indian bureaucrats, Chinese billionaire tycoons, and Indonesian thugs.
My seat is like being the catcher on a baseball team. I’m the only person who can see the entire field; I coordinate the calls, and I’m involved on every play. And since most public deals are not sole bookrunner transactions, I have worked exhaustively with every bank on Wall Street; I saw it all.
Again, the book has never been positioned as the story about life just inside the walls of Goldman Sachs. It’s far more interesting than that.
And it certainly isn’t an indictment on any particular firm or some kind of exposé snoozefest. My objective is to unapologetically showcase the true culture of Wall Street in a way that hasn’t been done before.
My vantage point is particularly unique and credible… and now, I can share it without the shackles of anonymity.
So of course, I will keep tweeting. I’ve even picked up a few new inside sources (and 25,000 new followers), so like I’ve always said, “Email me what you hear…”