Wall Street Is Figuring Out How to Woo Silicon Valley

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Lingua franca.
Lingua franca. Photo: Ricardo Reitmeyer/Copyright Ricardo Reitmeyer, All rights reserved

Today's New York Times DealBook takes an in-depth look at one of the greatest cross-cultural outreach efforts of our time: Wall Streeters attempting to bond with Silicon Valley's wealthy. The latter group has lots of money, obviously, and doesn't know quite what to do with it — which is where the former group has been trying eagerly to step in. “Someone’s going to capture this wealth,” Derek Fowler of Morgan Stanley told the Times. “We just want to make sure we’re out there.”  Some banks are doing a better job than others at courting these plentiful, potential new wealth-management clients, though. One unnamed banker, upon hearing that Geoff Lewis's vague-sounding mobile business had been acquired by another vague-sounding tech firm (TopGuest and ezRez Software, respectively) decided to pull a classic move. He asked Geoff to join his managing director at a Sharks game — just two high-powered bros enjoying some sweet fights from a nice vantage point. Who could say no? Geoff could, apparently. He turned down the offer.

Goldman, at least, seems to have figured out a better way to relate to the newly monied of the West Coast. Take the case of Sam Odio, another tech entrepreneur who recently sold his photo-sharing business to Facebook, prompting lots of outreach from big banks looking to land his business.

Goldman has the inside track, having courted him with an exclusive factory tour of Tesla, the electric sports-car maker, and tickets to a screening of the final Harry Potter film.

“They sure know the way to a geek’s heart,” said Mr. Odio, 27.

So basically, what Wall Street needs to do is think of a bunch of incredibly broad stereotypes about the Silicon Valley and let those stereotypes guide their behavior.