140-character literature

The Goldman Sachs Elevator Is Shopping a Book Proposal

Photo: Corbis, Shutterstock

@GSElevator, the Twitter account that claims to relay overheard conversations from inside the Goldman Sachs elevators, has had surprising longevity for an anonymous parody handle. The person (or people) behind the account, which has posted more than 1,000 tweets and amassed nearly 600,000 followers with banker bons mots like “In the Hamptons, it’s herpès” since it launched in 2011, has been branching out lately, with a @GSElevator guide to being a man and a set of pointers for interns, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Now, perhaps inevitably, @GSElevator has decided to write a book.

Daily Intelligencer has obtained a copy of a proposal for a book titled Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance and Excess in the World of Investment Banking, written by the author(s) of @GSElevator under the pseudonym J.T. Stone. The proposal, which is being sent to editors at major publishing houses this week, hails the book as “the definitive exposure of investment banking culture today.” The stories inside, the writer claims, will be “100% true, as seen and told through the intriguingly anonymous eyes and voice behind @GSElevator.”

The book is being represented by Byrd Leavell, the literary agent who launched the career of fratire king Tucker Max. And while @GSElevator doesn’t reveal his own identity in the proposal — and says he won’t in the book, either — he drops some hints while introducing himself:

I have had a distinguished and well-documented career in the world of Fixed Income. I have pitched, structured, marketed, priced, and sold bonds in New York, London, and Hong Kong. I have worked with sovereign nations, AAA corporations, American and European blue chips, Korean bureaucrats, Indonesian billionaire thugs, and Chinese tycoons. I have sold to pension funds, asset managers, hedge funds, bank prop desks, and high net-worth individuals.

According to the proposal, Straight to Hell will be structured as a series of 2,000- to 4,000-word stories, with “topical, pithy @GSElevator tweets” running alongside the author’s recollections of life in finance. (In case you’re worried about drowning in impenetrable banking lingo, rest easy – the author promises, “I have no intention of getting bogged down in deal specifics, technical jargon, or any overly quantitative textbook-speak.” It helps that the account’s shtick is more profane than didactic; chapter titles teased in the proposal include “Me Love You Long Time” and “Carpet or Cock.”)

Many of the exploits promised in the proposal are reminiscent of The Wolf of Wall Street, such as a party with “impromptu bowling with wine glasses and crystal ashtrays sliding down the table.” Other escapades include:

The Stakeout: A degenerate IT person informs me that our competitor’s Head of Regional Sales has been spotted on multiple occasions shamelessly trolling for hookers (the “smash-and-grab”) in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district. There’s only one thing to do: stakeout.

The Handover: The outgoing Hong Kong hedge-fund sales guy has one week overlap to show me the ropes. Our first meeting, to introduce me to one of his best clients, involves karaoke, cocaine, and prostitutes. This week teaches me all I need to know about banking in Asia, and almost kills me.

William Hung: There’s obviously some tension and resentment from the local Chinese salespeople toward their better-paid expatriate colleagues, and it predates an official credit sales off-site in which the local sales team flew Dragon Air economy class, and the rest of us flew Cathay Pacific business class. I take this sensitive Colonial-legacy issue head-on by inviting the entire China team out for a Friday night of their choice — dinner and karaoke.  Six hours later, my diplomacy is called into question as I force a socially awkward Taiwanese analyst to sing the Ricky Martin and American Idol classic, “She Bangs.”

As with most nonfiction book proposals, the pitch for Straight to Hell is also a marketing document. Much of the proposal is spent talking up the size and importance of @GSElevator’s Twitter following and media connections, and how helpful they’ll be in selling lots of copies of the book. He writes (emphasis mine):

Each of my tweets averages well over 1,500 retweets, putting me firmly in the realm of “Twitter Celebrity.” When I send out a link via Twitter, it usually gets 100,000+ clicks, clearly illustrating my ability to reach, interact, and engage with people

I have ~ 600,000 real, interactive, and diverse followers, including Kate Upton, Marissa Mayer, Megyn Kelly, Jim Cramer (and nearly every single person at CNBC), Page Six, Bloomberg, Huffington Post, New York Post, Nate Silver, Colin Quinn, The New York Times, USA Today, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Bette Midler, Marc Andreessen, Vanilla Ice, Variety, ESPN, Evan Williams (Twitter founder), Dick Costolo (Twitter CEO), Robert Evans (film producer), Sally Krawcheck, Fox News, Jonah Peretti (BuzzFeed), Michael Dell, Greg Gutfeld, and Matt Taibbi 

My appeal and fan base ranges from fraternity houses and business schools to Financial Times readers and even ardent Occupy Movement supporters. In the New York magazine Approval Matrix, I would put myself uniquely in all four corners.

A Goldman Sachs spokesperson declined to comment on the proposal. Since @GSElevator first appeared in 2011, workers at the bank have spent untold hours speculating about the mystery tweeter’s identity, including whether or not he actually works at Goldman. According to the proposal, he does — or at least did — a fact the author assures he will confirm to a publisher in private. And although pitching, and then writing, a book filled with personal stories and character details might ultimately give @GSElevator away, the account’s author says he isn’t worried.

In the event that my true identity is revealed, I am willing to embrace it, and turn it into an additional wave of momentum in terms of interviews and press in order to further promote the book,” he writes.

@GSElevator and his agent are probably hoping that publishers have forgotten the underwhelming sales of Why I Left Goldman Sachs, the 2012 memoir by Goldman turncoat Greg Smith that got a big burst of publicity (and a $1.5 million advance) before reportedly selling only a few thousand copies in hardcover. But @GSElevator isn’t concerned about the inevitable comparisons. (“Greg Smith doesn’t have a clue, and he didn’t have the platform or know how to promote a book,” he writes in the proposal.) In fact, the elevator is setting sights much higher — on Liar’s Poker, Michael Lewis’s classic Wall Street memoir about Salomon Brothers in the eighties, which has been the gold standard for finance culture books since it appeared.

It’s time for an update that renders the original obsolete,” @GSElevator writes. “My book will be the new benchmark.”

Exclusive: @GSElevator’s Book Proposal