Since I entered Friday massively short, and have zero buying power left, I was bored enough to wander over to a place I’ve never been in my life – – the Silicon Valley Bank website – – and take a look around.
I thought I’d share some nuggets from there, since, for the moment, the website is still up and running. As you might guess, since this is a financial institution, it is absolutely SLATHERED with virtue-signaling. Indeed, there’s not a white male to be found anywhere except for their actual senior leadership page, which is the kind of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do hypocrisy rampant in modern American corporations, particularly banks.
Let’s stroll around, shall we? We begin, naturally, on the home page itself where the organization declares itself to be all about proactive (now there’s a corporate-speak gem for you) guidance for the long run. The long run as in “your bank will not go into receivership on March 10, 2023.” I guess that didn’t work out as planned.
It only takes a moment to run smack dab into the sea of the stock photographs of every gender, race, height, weight, and hairstyle imaginable as the soon-to-be-bankrupt corporation declared its commitment to living its values.
What are they, you ask? Well, they spell them right out, and they include integrity, empathy, embracing diverse (of course) perspective, and – – my favorite – – “We take responsibility.” That’ll be put to the test soon, I imagine.
Thus, the “relentless partner” that is SVB continues trumpeting their wonderfulness. I’m a white fella, and I think I’d stick out like a patriarchal thumb on this photo shoot. Seriously.
Did you hear the news, though? They hired a Chief Risk Officer just a few weeks ago! Isn’t that great? i wonder what her week has been like?
I suspect when she came on board, complete with, at the time, a deliciously huge stock package, she was counting on the organization’s “proprietary, data-backed insights to help anticipate what’s next.” You go, girl!
Lest any of you remain concerned about SVB’s oft-mentioned commitment to all-things-diverse, they have some graphics to drive the point home. Banks are all about metrics, right? I mean, sometimes they won’t necessarily guarantee solvency, but at least you know that the forthcoming ranks of the unemployed will be a rainbow of humanity.
You see, SVB believes “inclusion ignites innovation.” although I guess liquidity wasn’t part of the ethos.
In fact, the more I look at this site, the more I wonder if these guys actually did any banking business. Every corner of the website is devoted to values, diversity, and inclusion. Yet again, we get to learn about how empathetic, responsible, and diverse they are, and how they speak and act with integrity. Really? So how come almost $200 billion just went up in smoke? Asking for a friend.
Sigh. They just won’t quit. For those considering a job at this organization (when they were still hiring, almost their 388 open positions are still there for you to peruse), you could anticipate – – as an SVB team member – – “mental wellbeing“, “physical wellbeing“, and “financial wellbeing.” I never knew “wellbeing” was a word, but at least I’ve learned one useful thing from this exercise.
Financial wellbeing. As in “Your dollars wellbeseeing you whenever the liquidators can get around to it.“
As I say, though, the “Career Opportunities” are absolutely still there (female, check, person of color, check, eyeglasses to look smart, check) so that you can help businesses “thrive in the innovation economy.” Wait a second – – innovation – – isn’t that the word that was Cathie Woods‘ undoing?
As for those folks who, in the past, were considering investing in the ticker symbol known as SIVB, the benefits were legion. Strong credit and asset quality! Strong capital and liquidity! And, hell, even their revenue streams are diversified!
Of course, a company can’t be faulted for tooting its own horn. Plenty of outside Wall Street analysts (who come equipped with only one vocabulary word – BUY) and magazines loved, loved, loved Silicon Valley Bank. Fabled business magazine Forbes (who featured such notables as Elizabeth Holmes and Samuel Bankman-Fried on its cover in past issues) declared SVB to be one of America’s Best Banks. Once again, Forbes absolutely nails it.
Perhaps you were an investor there. Perhaps you’re pissed as hell that the money you’ve worked all your life to save has been clamped into a safebox under lock and key until the good people of the FDIC sort things out. Well, take heart. You may not have your cash anymore, but with a little time on the SVB website, you can read about how responsible they have been with their Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Because, God knows, second only to crude oil container ships and old John Deere tractors, the worst offenders of pollution are investment banks.
To the naïve observer, having encountered the tidal wave of both images and text celebrating the diversity at Silicon Valley Bank, you might assume a look at their Executive Team would resemble the United Nations. I’m afraid you’re in for a disappointment. ‘
You see, there’s a very wide chasm between what the corporation claims to be about and what it actually is. I’ve frankly seen more diversity in a New England college hockey team.
With the CEO of this Broadway musical being, of course, the baldest, whitest dude on the planet. A businessman from 1952 would feel instantly at home in this executive suite, earlier pronouncements notwithstanding. But he’s not wearing a tie. No, sir! That would be not innovative and maybe even exclusionary.
And the above President, one Mr. Greg Becker, is not a taciturn man, either. Not at all. He has spoken and written widely about many topics, including why the innovation (there’s that word again) economy is a reason to be optimistic.
Kindly note that the context in which he made this sunny prediction (the Milken Power of Ideas Series) was named after none other than the most notorious insider trading convict and poster boy from 1980s greed, Michael Milken.
Life is truly stranger than fiction.
But none of this really matters, does it? Because, in the end, it’s all about the participation ribbons.
I’ll tell you one thing, though – – to the countless depositors and shareholders of the now-deceased Silicon Valley Bank, I doubt they give two shits about any of the above. What matters is that hundreds of billions of dollars in deposits and equity value that have been destroyed in front of their eyes, and it was all done by people who spent the past few years saying what they thought needed to be said in order to stay in the good graces of the public.
The results were not diverse. They were singular. And that singularity was called Failure.