All Articles Finance Modern Money While You Were Working - August 8

While You Were Working – August 8

What Wall Street gets right on gender equality, Uber makes a business move, David Letterman returns, and Disney makes ESPN fans oh-so happy

4 min read

Modern Money

Travis Kalanick of Uber

Are Silicon Valley firms too young for good governance? (Greg Baker/Getty Images)

Wall Street beat Silicon Valley on gender equality

Obviously, this is a timely comparison of gender equality on Wall Street versus Silicon Valley. As Silicon Valley absorbs another black eye from the debacle brought on by the missives of a now former Google engineer, the time is right to recognize some of the things Wall Street gets right in the old human resources department.

When Uber’s Travis Kalanick swamped himself in bad headlines during the first half of the year or when 500 Startups boss Dave McClure landed himself in his own bucket of hot water, I remarked to my wife that you would never see the CEO of a major Wall Street bank doing such stupid things. Would Jamie Dimon crawl into a public vehicle and berate the driver? Nope. Does Brian Moynihan waltz around trying to score with job candidates or his subordinates? Nope.

I credit two key things to keeping Wall Street CEOs away from such nasty headlines: time and vetting.

To snag a CEO chair on Wall Street, one has to work in the industry for 20-30 years. None of the founders of the big banks are still alive, so anyone competing to become CEO has to earn it. They are vetted for years. Board members know them, socialize with them, and watch them perform for years before giving them the keys to the car. Silicon Valley doesn’t.

I am not suggesting Wall Street is some bastion of gender equality. It certainly is not, but this is a comparative analysis.

Nor am I saying that no Wall Street CEO has never had a bad habit or two. Some have. But nowadays there is simply too much money on the line for a board to approve a risk-laden CEO. And unlike the situation at Uber or 500 Startups, there are also numerous candidates competing for the CEO suite on Wall Street. Those who habitually display the kind of behavior we are seeing of late in Silicon Valley are jettisoned from the CEO sweepstakes long before they become final candidates.

I know it would be hard for the board of directors at some Silicon Valley unicorn to tell the founder that they don’t have the character to remain CEO. But they should. That’s why they make the big bucks.

British banks growing antsy about forthcoming slap on the wrist

It seems the Trump administration’s slow pace at filling the ranks at the Department of Justice has not been optimal for the three big British banks that are awaiting the outcomes of cases they are facing at the DoJ. It seems the Brits would prefer speed over size. I say that because the Trump DoJ will take longer to sort things out, but when it does it will certainly slap much smaller fines on the Brits than some of their predecessor might have.

I guess the whole thing reeks a bit of: “Please let us know what the cost of doing business is so we can pay it and move on.” And I am not too sure if there are many lesson learned in that.

News broke about Uber that was actually about its business

It seems playing the lending game in sub-prime anything these days is fraught with challenges. How low to set underwriting standards and when to get out of the business entirely always seem to bubble up to the headlines.

For Uber, the time has come to exit the business of providing sub-prime auto loans to some of its drivers. I guess the most surprising detail is that the business was powered by a $1 billion credit facility from Goldman Sachs. Two years seems like a short time frame for companies like Uber and Goldman Sachs to misfire on a line of business.

He’s baaaaaaaaack!

Obviously the Trump administration has been good for the newspaper biz. The Washington Post and the “failing” New York Times have enjoyed a renaissance of readership and relevance. Trump has also been good for late-night TV hosts as his administration continues to give the likes of John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and Seth Meyers endless amounts of material. And let’s not forget the Trump Bump being enjoyed by Saturday Night Live. The getting has been so good that the legendary David Letterman is coming out of retirement to get back into the game and do a show on Netflix. If the comments Letterman has made thus far about Trump are any indication, he will come out guns blazing.

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