— Joseph Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) February 25, 2014
Since the fall of 2011, Twitter has enjoyed an inside glimpse into all the pithy, sexist, cynical, megalomaniacal banter that gets traded everyday in the elevators of multinational banking firm/mothership of our reptilian illuminati overlords, Goldman Sachs.
Then on Tuesday, the New York Times revealed that account is actually run by 34-year-old, Texas-based investment banker John Lefevre, who has never worked at Goldman Sachs. Does this mean Lefevre successfully installed audio surveillance equipment into the elevators of the most powerful banking firm on the planet? Or was he just making stuff up based on the kind of bullshit things all bankers say, whether in Texas, New York, or Honk Kong? The second one!
Here’s what you need to know about Lefevre and how his infamous twitter handle came to be:
1. @GSElevator Has Over 600,000 Followers
#1: Poor people eat so much fast food you'd think their time was valuable.
— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) September 24, 2013
In the New York Times account, Lefevre was first inspired to start the account back in the fall of 2011, during the height of Occupy Wall Street. At that time, a new handle @CondeElevator was rolling mad rewteets, by ostensibly chronicling the elevator gossip at the media company Conde Nast. Lefevre told the Times:
“I thought, ‘This is ridiculous that people are infatuated with Condé Nast. If they only saw the elitist, sexist and out-of-touch things bankers say.’ People had no idea what it is really like.”
#1: I could watch fat people getting out of cars all day long.
— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) February 16, 2014
Lefevre could smell an emerging market. He named his handle after Goldman Sachs because it had “more love/hate Main Street appeal.” Also because, on those few occasions he’d socialized with Goldman Sachalites, he was struck by their cynical douchery:
““Even socializing with them — going to bars and having guys buy girls drinks and then throw out a line like, ‘Don’t worry ladies, these drinks are on Goldman Sachs.’ ”
His account started out making some attempt to affect verisimilitude, the tweets focusing on specific people or deals, often containing inside jokes recognizable only to those in the industry. But once Lefevre gained “a certain validation and credibility,” he shifted to increasingly stylized punchlines that in his words, “have a bit more commercial appeal.”
#1: Teach a man to fish and he'll still vote for the guy that gave him a fish.
— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) February 6, 2014
2. Lefevre Was Almost Hired By Goldman in 2010
#1: With your Visa card, you can win Super Bowl tickets for life. #2: With my Amex, I can buy Super Bowl tickets for life.
— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) January 31, 2014
According to the Times, Goldman offered Lefevre a position running a debt syndicate at their Hong Kong office in August 2010. The offer was later revoked, due to complications surrounding Lefevre’s contract with his previous employer, who, according to Lefevre, insisted that he could not join Goldman because of a noncompete agreement in his contract:
“Things turned nasty with my old boss and he threatened a lawsuit against me and Goldman. My contract was never rescinded. We cordially agreed to part ways to avoid a public mess. I don’t know how much I can talk about it. It wasn’t acrimonious.”
3. He Has a Book Deal
#1: Let's be honest. There's no way your guess is as good as mine.
— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) November 6, 2013
Back in January, prior to his outing, @GSElevator was offered a book deal from Touchstone, a subsidiary of Simon and Schuster, titled “Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance and Excess in the World of Investment Banking.” The book is due to be published in October and is being billed as “the definitive exposure of investment banking culture . . . shedding new light on a world that is far more abhorrent, and yet, way more entertaining than people can imagine.”
The book was to be published under the name “J.T. Stone,” it’s unclear whether the book will bare its author’s actual name now that it has been made public.
The book’s editor, Matthew Benjamin says that the publishing company was never misled by Lefevre, telling the Times: “He’s been pretty straight with us the entire time, so this is not a surprise. That you’re writing about him speaks to the interest he’s generated. We always expected his identity to be revealed at some point.”
4. He’s Been Accused of Being a Joke-Stealing Douchebag
#1: 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.
— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) November 12, 2013
@GSElevator got into a heated twitter battle with fellow tweeting titan Rob Delaney last April, after he appeared to steal, or at least very shoddily cite a joke from stand-up comic and Jimmy Fallon writer Mike Drucker.
@GSElevator then, instead of retweeting this joke, merely quoted it, attributing only with the initials “M.D.”:
Chicago Now, covering the dispute at the time, noted that for GSE’s followers, M.D. would far more likely be understood as “Managing Director” as in an overhead quote from one, rather than from alt-comedian Mike Drucker.
When Drucker demanded GSelevator stop stealing his jokes, GSElevator responded by pointing out that Drucker ain’t so conventionally attractive:
5. He Claims that Retweets Are His Only Agenda
#1: Foreigners probably can't tell if someone is retarded or just has a Boston accent.
— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) October 24, 2013
Lefevre told the Times: “I do not have an agenda to paint the people or this culture one way or the other,” explaining he was always cynical about his work as a banker, but nonetheless “loved it. We did a lot of crazy stuff. It’s not like I had a great epiphany along the way.”
What he says he saw on Wall Street was “a group of people that aren’t as impressive as I thought they were — or as impressive as they thought they were. They defined themselves as human beings by their jobs.”
While his account has become a favorite among Wall Street’s harshest critics, Lefevre maintains that stoking outrage at Wall Street was not motivated by a sincere moral revulsion at a financial culture that has succeeded in throwing the country into recession, destroying the economic well-being of millions of Americans, but rather, by a keen eye for what would sell:
“A lot of times I pander, I’ll be honest with you. I pander for retweets…I don’t consider it selling out or pandering to a lower common denominator; I think of it more as adapting to what the widest possible audience of people responds favorably to.”