Bess Levin

Posts by Bess Levin

  • 08 Apr 2014 at 3:30 PM

Dear Paulson Investors

March didn’t turn out as well as everyone had hoped but, on the bright side, it could’ve been so much worse. Read more »

Bart M. Schwartz, the outside consultant tapped by Steven A. Cohen and federal prosecutors to monitor the operations at Mr. Cohen’s new family office, has closer ties to the firm than previously known. The son of an executive at Mr. Schwartz’s nationwide compliance consulting firm is a portfolio manager at Point72 Asset Management, the firm formerly known as SAC Capital Advisors. Mr. Schwartz said that the potential conflict was disclosed to Mr. Cohen and his legal team and that federal prosecutors and all sides were comfortable with the situation. Mr. Schwartz, a former federal prosecutor, said that he disclosed the matter to the parties soon after he was approached about serving as the outside consultant for Mr. Cohen’s firm. [Dealbook]

In a few short weeks from now, Berkshire Hathaway will hold its annual shareholder meeting in Omaha. For many, this is the social event of the year, a chance to buy deeply discounted products owned by the company and a rare opportunity to stand in close proximity to Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett. But for the last number of years, a dark cloud has hovered over the festivities, thanks to local hotels who see the meeting, to which thousands of people flock, as a convenient time to hike their prices. The opportunistic increase in rates rankles many, but none more than Buffett, who has reportedly had it up to here with the bull shit. And this is what he’s doing about it:

The billionaire investor is planning to mention the [Airbnb] at Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s upcoming annual shareholders’ meeting on May 3 as a low-cost alternative for shareholders who don’t want to pay the jacked-up rates that Omaha hotels charge while the gathering is taking place every year…This price-gouging annoys Mr. Buffett, who says shareholders shouldn’t have to pay through their noses for a trip that, when the plane flight and other expenses are included, can add up to several thousand dollars. (Another annoyance for Mr. Buffett: Airlines also raise their Omaha fares for the weekend.) Many shareholders bring their spouses or families along for the weekend, where Berkshire’s more than 70 operating companies offer discounts on their wares. What’s more, many hotels enforce a two- or three-night minimum stay for the weekend.

If it seems unusual for the CEO of a multinational conglomerate to get involved in details like the accommodations of shareholders, you’re right, it is unusual. Brian Moynihan doesn’t call up the Marriott and try to negotiate a better price for investors flying in for the weekend and Jim Gorman doesn’t stock welcome bags with bottled water and pretzels for stakeholders coming in to see him. But Warren Buffett isn’t a regular old CEO. He’s one part chief executive, two parts self-described Mama Bear. Read more »

Researchers from Harvard Business School, Wharton, and the MIT Sloan School of Management have determined that venture capitalists like their pitches wrapped up in pretty packaging. If you’ve got a great idea but sense you’re not Adonis, consider hiring a male model to do the talking. Also of note, don’t even think about letting a woman make your presentation. Read more »

  • 07 Apr 2014 at 3:16 PM

It’s Really Happening


[@ilovestamford via @sallypancakes, earlier]

Like the elderly couple that has money in the bank but nevertheless scrimps and saves every last scrap of food because they lived through the depression, flashbacks to John Thain skipping board meetings to powwow with decorators to select the finest drapes and trashcans money could buy keeps Greg Fleming in check. Read more »

  • 07 Apr 2014 at 2:36 PM

Today Is Not Just Another Monday

October 12, 1492. July 4, 1776. July 21, 1969. All dates of such historical and cultural significance that if you asked someone where they were on that day, they’d surely be able to tell you. Because they weren’t just any old days; they were moments when everything changed. When seismic shifts in history occurred. When everything that came after it would be different than before. The day Christopher Columbus reached land; the day Congress the adopted the Declaration of Independence; the day we put two men on the moon. Today, another date will be added to the history books: April 7, 2014. The day SAC Capital changed its name to Point72 Asset Management. Read more »

It pays to be an employee at 15 Central Park West. Author Michael Gross reports in House of Outrageous Fortune, his new book about the behemoth condo building, that the average worker there made $22,500 in tips during the holiday season in 2011, give or take a few Benjamins…Not bad for tending to a tower full of influentials, plenty of whom have made Fifteen — its nickname, apparently — their base of power…Sandy Weill…is remembered by one (anonymous) staffer as being “very demanding … An automatic call is made to the manager if a letter or a magazine doesn’t arrive when it’s supposed to.” [NYM, related]