Here at Dealbreaker, we occasionally like to look into the darker underbelly of finance. See what happens behind closed doors. Under desks. On boardroom tables. In the eleventh floor bathroom of Goldman Sachs. These tours of duty are most informative when we have a guide. We've already contracted Philip Goldstein for the entire month of August, but today (and for the next several weeks or until we've sucked him dry of all he has to offer, vis-à-vis being a Hedge Fund Guru (or whichever comes first)), our Shepherd is Tim Sykes. We hope you enjoy the ride, and any complaints should be directed to tim at timothysykes dot com, though we really don't anticipate any.
May 11th-May 14th: These were a busy few days. Lots of great trading, fine dining, dating, and corporate partnering. Highlights: Trading: Wait for the book. Fine Dining: Annisa, Chanto & Bellavitae. Dating: Even I’m not that stupid. Corporate Partnering: Can you say Dubai? Awwwww yeah, wait for the PRs. Wow, is it any wonder that fine dining has become my main passion in life; it’s the only thing that I’m allowed to talk about!! God bless tasting menus, they’re delicious and somewhat economical.
May 15th: My newly acquired agent told me Wiley had upped their advance on my book to $35,000 plus a lot of bonuses if my book hit any bestseller lists. Wow, I know there wasn’t a lot of money in publishing for authors, but was this really all my story was worth? After all, Dana Vachon got nearly a $650,000 advance for his two books and he’d never even done anything much with his life! (May 31st: I smiled when I read how few books he’d sold so far.)
No, I was certainly worth more than 1/10th of Dana Vachon. After all, thanks to MOJO’s continual airings of Wall Street Warriors, (we’re coming up on 500 total airings now!) my mailing list had grown by leaps and bounds. But Wiley didn’t care; they wouldn’t go any higher so I formally rejected them. My agent was aghast; who the hell was I to reject automatic nationwide distribution and the industry validation that would stem from being published by one of the most respected publishers in the world? Maybe I was an idiot, but I ran the numbers and thought I deserved more, waaaaaaay more. I had grown up reading Wiley titles and dreaming of one day joining their lineup, but now I happily discarded this opportunity.
May 16th-23rd: Screw Wiley! I really could do this all myself. No less than three other major publishers were now interested and the emails from wholesalers and distributors were beginning to clog my inbox. This was funny-- I’d only sent out the first 80 pages-- nobody had even seen the whole book yet. Still, industry big-wigs Ken Fisher, Victor Niederhoffer, Dr. Alexander Elder, and Mr. Random Walk Down Wall St. himself Burton Malkiel had all agreed to read advance copies of my book-- damn, I better be right about this writing thing or I’d look like an ass in front of a whole lotta people! (Not that this possibility had ever stopped me before.)
May 24th: My best friend, cook, and roommate, Jason moved down to Atlanta to take a pretty sweet job with a big raise as a trader. Damn, I had taught him too well! But God bless Craigslist; it helped me find a new roomie within a day. Yup, my townhouse was built in 1899, but its niiiiiiiiiice. Hopefully this guy could cook as well as Jason.
May 25th-30th: Further solid trading, dining, and corporate partnering. Conclusion: After five visits to Perilla, I’d tried the entire menu--it really was the best restaurant in NYC
May 31st-June 3rd: I attended the largest Book Expo this side of the Atlantic and was surprised to find that nobody really cared about finance books. Out the hundreds of thousands of books showcased, few dealt with finance and they all pretty much sucked anyway. Over the past decade, finance had shaped my life and taught me more about ambition, greed, and life than I ever though possible—but nobody in publishing cared. Finance is our true national sport—what the fuck! Sure, people were very interested to help me sell, distribute, and promote my book, but nobody really believed it could be a huge hit. After all; people want to be entertained, not read about numbers, companies, and SEC filings, aka bored out of their minds.
After skimming over the few finance titles being exhibited, I could see why nobody was interested in this niche. The “How To” titles blatantly promoted the day jobs of their authors and the investment titles were full of so many generalities they were useless. Things had to change…
Timothy Sykes is a hedge fund manager, star of the reality show Wall Street Warriors, and author of the upcoming book, “An American Hedge Fund”