The Last Word

January 19, 2012 6:57 pm

Tweets that feed into Wall St elevator gossip

It began with a single, expletive-laden tweet in the depths of the August market lull. Five months later and @GSElevator, the anonymous Twitter profile that purports to chronicle conversations overheard in Goldman Sachs’ office elevator, has reached more than 128,000 followers.

This at a time when Goldman, along with much of Wall Street, is under an unflattering spotlight of post-financial crisis scrutiny

The tweets range from market commentary to water-cooler gossip. The common thread is a dose of unbridled arrogance that would make Gordon Gekko blush. “Some chick asked me what I would do with 10 million bucks. I told her I’d wonder where the rest of my money went,” reads one published message. “The euro is dead. They’re just bickering over who pays for the funeral,” reads another.

Whether or not the tweets reflect genuine conversations or fictitious parodies, the mix of humour and voyeurism
has tapped into a vein of renewed and often negative interest in Wall Street.

The person who claims to be behind @GSElevator describes themself as a former first-year analyst, who has since worked in Goldman’s investment banking and capital markets divisions. Inspired by a Twitter account that briefly detailed alleged absurdities inside the offices of Vogue magazine, they say they started @GSElevator as a humorous window into the financial world.

The Twitter feed has not disappointed. Conceit and sexism are there in spades. As are more idiosyncratic insights into the supposed work culture of the US investment bank. One comical tweet claimed to relay the following quip between two bankers: “#1: I sent Morgan Stanley my resume. #2: Why? #1: So I could reject them again.”

As a parody, the Twitter feed is striking enough. But according to its creator the vast majority
of the tweets are genuine – though they aren’t necessarily overheard in crowded office elevators. They describe bars, aeroplanes, lobbies and trading floors as prime hunting grounds.

The Financial Times contacted @GSElevator through an email account provided on its Twitter page so that well-informed readers can send their own snippets of overheard dialogue. Tweets that are sent in by readers must pass muster. Eight out of every 10 submissions are ignored for potential fabrication or simply
being too boring, says the feed’s anonymous creator. “I would like to think that, with my experience, I do a reasonably fair job of vetting and posting tweets,” they say. “Even if someone slips something by me, hopefully, it is on some level realistic and feasible – and therefore true in that sense.”

Goldman Sachs has declined to comment on the account.

The bank’s executives are not immune from @GSElevator’s lambasting, but the anonymous creator says readers should not expect the name-dropping to continue: “If you look at the evolution of the tweets, I have increasingly shied away from ad hominem remarks . . . Initially, I thought it helped establish my credibility.”

Fake or not, the Twitter feed has reached the stratosphere of media popularity. According to Twitalazyer, an analytical tool for Twitter profiles, @GSElevator’s “impact score” is in the top percentile of all users, along with fellow tweeters such as Lady Gaga.

For big investment banks, still grappling with a post-crisis image problem most recently embodied by the Occupy Wall Street movement, the profile is likely to be an uncomfortable online presence. But it can be awkward for its anonymous author too.

“I have been out socially with people where a story is prefaced with ‘this better not end up on @GSElevator’,” they say. “I’m obviously very
careful to avoid posting anything that could ever get back to me. So unfortunately, there are some gems that I just can’t ever publish.”

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