Richard Fuld, Lost in the Matrix

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Photo: Mary-Louise Price; Photo: Getty Images

Our heart leaped when we read this morning's news that former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld's new firm, Matrix Advisors, was pulling together a fund to funnel private-equity money to small businesses seen as "growth companies." Finally! we thought. This could be our chance to fund our long-dreamed-of specialty business, Nuts About Coconuts! Intending to send Fuld a detailed business plan explaining the array of products NAC would provide (everything from coconut cream pie to rope to jaunty hats — do you know literally every part of the coconut is useful?), we made a call to the first Matrix Asset Advisors that came up in Google, at 747 Third Avenue. "Oh, Richard Fuld," groaned the receptionist. "Every time he's in the news we get calls. I don't know who he is or what he did, but I just say, 'You've got the wrong number,' and send them on their way."

As it turns out, there are at least nine Matrix Advisors, half of which are in New York City.

It's a very common name.

"I used to get Matrix Asset Advisors mail," said Chris Anci, the founder of the Matrix Capital Group, a financial advisory firm in Grand Central. "There's a mortgage company in Virginia that did something shady, I got a lot of calls about that. I got Matrix shampoo. I got a guy who complained about the Matrix shampoo. The delivery guy is like, did you make the movie?"

"Everyone's like, 'Why'd you pick that name?' I dunno. I did it like fifteen years ago. It's become really common. If you pick a name that is like, the Guard Dogs of Hell, you don't have a problem. Except for if you try to buy Chrysler, hahahaha."

Others did not find it that funny. "There are multiple Matrices," one investment manager, who did not want to be named, whispered darkly on the phone. He characterized the feeling among them like so: "Some think the name is just an inconvenience. Some are looking to do business with him. Some people are very angry." He indicated his firm might be taking legal action.

Going deeper into these matrices, we realized, was not doing us any good. Anyway, what if he had incorporated elsewhere, like Connecticut, or the Bahamas? We turned back to Google, where eventually we found an address in a Wall Street Journal article from this summer. It's 780 Third Avenue in New York City, if you want to send Fuld your business plan, a stripper in a U.S. Marshals uniform, or a bag of flaming poo. Just stay away from the coconuts. It was our idea first.