Bess Levin

Posts by Bess Levin

Allegations of securities fraud are apparently no reason to slip out of one’s tank top, according to Michael Dupre Lucarelli, seen at left leaving federal court yesterday. Read more »

Like all amazing movies, miniseries, other works of art, the clip of Richard Handler accepting and taking part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a slow burn to an amazing finish. Oh, to be sure, it starts out leaps and bounds ahead of any other videos of its kind: that is, in Handler’s penthouse bathroom, in front of his jacuzzi. It’s just that at every turn, it gets exponentially better, in ways you can’t imagine, ’til you’re at the end and saying to yourself, “This is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.” Obviously, this must be watched in full, many times over the course of the day and possibly on loop and in place of whatever your firm is showing in TVs throughout the building. But, if we might, here are our favorite moments:

:01: We’re in Richard Handler’s bathroom. Why is that? Most of the head honchos taking part in this challenge (Marissa Mayer, senior execs at JP Morgan, etc) take the plunge on the street in front of their company or in someone’s backyard. No matter, here we are, in Richard Handler’s bathroom.

:05: Handler is narrating this video in his boxers and an old tee-shirt.

:12: He lays out the rules, we’re still in his bathroom.

:56: He nominates Carl Icahn to take the challenge, and Icahn’s wife to dump the ice (Icahn later takes to Twitter to say he’s too god damn busy.)

1:15: He starts ripping open plastic bags of ice and dumping them into the tub. It takes a while, because, again, he’s doing the challenge 1) in a jacuzzi and 2) in a jacuzzi that looks like it can seat 7. “It’s a lotta ice,” he tells the camera.

2:02: Even though he just dumped 8 or 9 bags of ice into the tub, he dumps a hotel-style wicker ice bucket into the bath, just for good measure. Read more »

Kleiner Perkins said it would invest up to $20 million in social messaging app Snapchat, valuing the company at nearly $10 billion, Dow Jones reported Tuesday, citing sources. According to the report, Snapchat said it now has 100 million monthly active users, nearly half that of Twitter. Snapchat, a smartphone app that allows users to share self-destructing images, has become popular among teenagers in the U.S. and its currently one of Apple iTunes’ top 10 free apps. [CNBC]

Been itching to get back into the Food Eating Challenge game but unsuccessful in finding one that combines your love of competition and hyperglycemia? Today’s your lucky day. Crumbs Cupcakes is back and not only will it be offering its cupcake the size of 9 Costco-sized sheet cakes, but even more ticking time bombs of sugar just begging to consumed under time constraints by your investment banking analyst or hedge fund intern of choice. Read more »

Earlier this month, Bank of America and the U.S. announced a landmark settlement wherein the bank agreed to pay $16.65 billion to settle allegations re: some not great mortgage securities it sold back in the day. Many an article was written about how this was the last bit of legal messiness BofA had to get through before it could turn its attention back to whatever it is it does when it’s not negotiating multi-billion dollar fines, which it’s done a lot over the past several years. And sure, this was probably the last 10-figure check Brian Moynihan will have to write for a while, but surely there will be other, smaller, mere multi-million dollar lawsuits that pop up along the way, to say nothing of all the other banks’ outstanding suits and other stuff coming down the pipeline we don’t yet know about. Barclays, for example, is gonna want to put that dark pool stuff behind it, as will Credit Suisse, UBS, and Deutsche Bank, should anything come of their investigations. Point is, the era of banks coughing up money to settle wrondoing on the regular is far from over, and inspired by what appears to be a new column at the Journal called “Crystal Ball,” today we’d like to introduce, “You Write The Story,” which, when the appropriate time comes, will go something like this: Read more »

One thing you may have noticed about Wall Street is that the very top people, with money to spend and no obligation to come into the office, love to buy sports teams. Unfortunately, not all of them are so great at actually owning these teams. Oh sure, they show up for the games, and wear the hats, and maybe even improve concession stand offerings. But do they dance with the mascots? Choreograph a half-time routine with the cheerleaders? The answers are no and no, and what that says to the fans and players is, “My heart’s not fully in this.” Even worse, a significant number of would-be owners don’t know the first thing about acquiring one of these organizations, be it baseball, basketball, football, or hockey, as evidenced by their being rebuffed time and time again.

One guy who does know a little something about getting what he wants vis-à-vis sports teams? Microsoft CEO-turned-LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, whose process is outlined by the Journal. For the naysayers, know this: It has nothing to do with being the highest bidder and everything to do with fist-pumping enthusiasm. For those who’ve come to accept that they’re never going to own a team of their own without help: Sit. Listen.

Rule No. 1: Don’t think, just do: Thirty minutes before meeting the basketball team he bought for $2 billion, Steve Ballmer was pacing a Starbucks parking lot on Wilshire Boulevard. His black Chevy SUV was headed to Beverly Hills, where he would face the players and coaches of the Los Angeles Clippers for the first time. He had never been to an event like this, he said later, and felt both elated and anxious. To avoid arriving early, he stopped for a giant ice tea. “What are the dynamics with basketball stars?” he asked himself as he paced. “I’m used to software developers.” [...] His Clippers purchase had closed five days earlier, but watching the billions exit his bank account had been strangely anticlimactic. Now, just before the Aug. 17 dinner, he felt the weight of what he had done. “I don’t have the first clue about being an owner” of a sports team, he thought.

Rule No. 2: Dream big: Mr. Ballmer compiled spreadsheets to determine profit in three years. Among the factors: revenue from sponsorships, ticket sales and local and national media with two media contracts coming up soon—and costs including NBA fees and players. “I priced it at a multiple of earnings, based on what I think I can do to make this work,” Mr. Ballmer said. “It’s aspirational, high-achievement, high-performance, but not insane.”

Rule No. 3: Give little old ladies what they want: Read more »

…and the drugs they want to eat, sherpas they’re paying to haul their stuff, and free love they’re ready to unleash in the desert this week. Read more »

  • 25 Aug 2014 at 3:52 PM

108 Year-Old Investor Recommends Cheeseburgers

One of the secrets to Irving Kahn’s success. Read more »