For those who read Leveraged Sellout…

Wall Street's Junior Set Tells All: Banks Meet Blogs (Update1)

May 25 (Bloomberg) -- Amit Chatwani is the toast of Wall Street's junior set. He doesn't work for a bank.

From a studio apartment in Manhattan's East Village, the 23-year-old writes Leveraged Sell-Out, a Web log that chronicles the life of today's young financiers: the pastel Lacoste polo shirts, the ``bottle service'' at Meatpacking District clubs, the women pursuing men from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Blackstone Group LP during bonus season.

People really want to read this stuff,'' says Chatwani, a Princeton University graduate. His eight-month-old site gets more than 30,000 page views in the four days after he posts an essay, he says.They want to know about the culture.''

Leveraged Sell-Out, DealBreaker and a half-dozen more online diaries are gaining popularity among young bankers. The sites blend blogging, a regular habit for Wall Street's college- age summer interns and entry-level employees, with an older tradition of insider memoirs such as ``Liar's Poker,'' Michael Lewis's tale of Salomon Brothers bond traders in the 1980s.

More than 4,000 students and business school graduates are starting jobs at New York securities firms in the next few months, including about 1,800 at Goldman Sachs, 1,000 at Merrill Lynch & Co. and 400 at Credit Suisse Group.

They are entering analyst''' andassociate'' programs that demand hundred-hour workweeks spent answering to senior bankers, preparing presentations known as pitch-books and sitting in cubicles doing computer modeling.

About Time

It's about time there are blogs about it,'' says Johanna Tyburski, 29, who left Credit Suisse in March after six years in the Zurich-based company's telecommunications banking and high- yield departments in New York.You know that your life is crazy and not real, and there's a humor that goes with it.''

The online spoofs and gossip pages are typically written by outsiders with contributions from unnamed industry workers. Securities firms tend to fire employees who publicly break their silence about clients or internal politics.

People layer their communications,'' says Douglas Rae, a professor at the Yale School of Management in New Haven, Connecticut.There are things they want to say to their peers that they can't afford to say to their superiors. That hidden transcript is everywhere.''

Going Private, billed as ``sardonic memoirs'' of the private-equity world, told readers on May 22 that its anonymous lead writer received a note demanding money to keep from being named publicly. Among the site's other offerings: a May 3 celebration of Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli's 537th birthday.

Ivy League Pals

Leveraged Sell-Out's Chatwani, who says he's working on a book proposal to sell his talent for lampooning Wall Street, fictionalizes material from Ivy League pals in the business.

Chatwani's mock e-mail exchange between bankers agreeing to order bottles to jump the line at a dance club last month, elicited 45 comments. ``Keep the laughs coming,'' one reader wrote.

Readership of sites like Chatwani's is small compared with those that appeal to a more general audience, such as Boing Boing, a blog on popular culture and technology. That site, the No. 1 English-language blog in the world, according to Technorati, a Web site that tracks the blogging community, got an average of 785,141 page views per day in April.

Page view is a measure of the number of pages seen by visitors to a Web site in a given period.

`Love and Banking'

BankersBall, started in October with the tagline Where Bankers Come to Party,'' has sections includingthe Natty Banker,'' with tips on Manhattan suit sales, and Ask the Ex- Working Girl,'' with advice onlove and banking.'' It also offers shortcuts for using Microsoft Corp.'s Excel software, the junior banker's primary tool for financial models.

Last week, BankersBall offered a list of the average salaries of first-, second- and third-year associates at private-equity firms. (First-year salary plus bonus: $172,000).

While young bankers who blog may get in trouble, the sites aren't blocked from work stations at Goldman, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley or Credit Suisse, spokespeople at those New York firms say.

At Merrill, access is limited by a policy blocking any site with a chat room because ``the company can't supervise, retain or archive the information,'' spokeswoman Selena Morris says.

Wall Street's new Web chatter also includes dozens of sites focused on serious analysis of markets and the economy. It's all part of an explosion of blogging, where Internet users post opinions, unchecked news and links to other sites as often as a dozen times a day.

More Than 35 Million

About 75,000 new blogs are created daily, about one every second, according to an April report by Technorati. The total number of blogs doubles every six months and now tops 35 million.

Many bloggers sell advertisements or solicit donations from readers, Technorati spokesman Derek Gordon says. Few are financial successes. Only the top 1,000 sites attract enough readers to secure large advertisers, and only the elite top 100 blogs earn enough to make a living, he says.

New York celebrity blog Gawker is among the few that are profitable, says Gaby Darbyshire, director of business development.

The site, created in 2002 by publisher Nick Denton and founding editor Elizabeth Spiers, draws more than 170,000 people a day. It is the world's 20th most-read blog, according to Technorati.

Gawker Media LLC doesn't release details on advertising sales. The site has spawned 13 new blogs, including the Los Angeles-based gossip site Defamer and Washington, D.C.'s Wonkette.

`Online Business Tabloid'

Spiers, 29, now has her own blog called DealBreaker. The two-month-old ``online business tabloid'' has been getting an average of 30,000 visitors daily, says Spiers, the publisher and lead writer. More than 80 percent of readers are men, and 68 percent work in financial services, she says. The median age is 29.

On her new site, Spiers brings the same breathlessness to investment-banking personnel shifts as Gawker does to movie-star sightings on Madison Avenue.

A DealBreaker section called Planespotting'' on May 22 included anunconfirmed'' account that a Lear jet registered to Denise Rich, ex-wife of Marc Rich, the one-time fugitive financier pardoned by former President Bill Clinton, flew from New York's Westchester airport to Arkansas's Rogers Municipal Airport-Carter Field and back.

People love anything gossipy,'' says Spiers.It's no different no matter what you're covering. They want sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.''

To contact the reporters on this story: Lisa Kassenaar in New York at [email protected] ; Courtney Dentch in New York at [email protected] .
Last Updated: May 25, 2006 12:04 EDT

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Comments (38)

Apr 18, 2007 - 2:08am…

The Borat Of Wall Street
Amit Chatwani's Leveraged Sell-Out blog lampoons the twentysomething banker set

It's late afternoon at a bar in the heart of Manhattan's financial district. This being early December, the place is buzzing with chatter about Wall Street's gangbuster yearend bonuses. In walks a 24-year-old banker type in a crisp London-tailored wso/">shirt and tie, sporting diamond-studded cuff links (or are they cubic zirconium?) the size of Danish butter cookies. He struts past a group of women like an urban peacock. "The bridge and tunnel crowd," he says, dismissing them as groupies from New Jersey and other hinterlands. Then he turns his gaze to this reporter. "I'm surprised they let you in with that blazer."

Just another day not at the office for Amit Chatwani, the man behind Leveraged Sell-Out (, a blog that riffs on the absurdities of the twentysomething Wall Street set. A strategy consultant and Web entrepreneur by day, Chatwani moonlights as the Borat for bankers, assuming the online persona of obnoxious young striver to skewer the rarefied yet intensely insecure demographic.

Launched in September, 2005, the blog has caught fire, generating 120,000 page views a month. The success convinced Chatwani to court advertisers via Google's (GOOG ) AdSense program. Now, as if oblivious to the site's mocking tone and abundant profanity, financial recruiting firms and boutique banks pay as much as $10 a click, according to Chatwani, for dibs on certain keywords. He's even shopping around a book proposal with an agent.

All vanities, from dating prerequisites to sartorial obsessions, are subject to Chatwani's ridicule. Witness the glee his alter ego feels on picking up a car-service voucher after an 18-hour day: "I can already see myself inside, laughing at the hoi polloi walking to their subways and taking their yellow taxis. I can already feel the cheap leather I pretend is expensive massaging my aching buttocks." Or how he looks down on Goldman Sachs (GS ) workers donning Men's Wearhouse wso/">suits: "Do they not know how much of an embarrassment they are to the world's premier investment bank?"

The nefarious persona began to take shape when Chatwani drafted a widely forwarded mock cover letter to Lehman Brothers Inc. (LEH ) during his senior year at Princeton in 2004. "I have been practicing staring at a computer monitor for extended hours," he wrote. "I can currently sit motionless in front of a screen for 28 hours, and I am improving daily."

The computer science grad moved to New York later that year, where he settled with 10 cub investment bankers in a Tribeca loft and marinated in their vernacular and rituals. He found himself invited to yearend bonus parties of P. Diddy-esque profligacy. Chatwani marveled at how conspicuously guys wore their firms' id badges to get a leg up in a shallow mating game. And how quality Wall Street relationship time consisted of stealing away from the office once a week to share an hour of TiVo. One paranoid banker even put together an intricate spreadsheet that handicapped co-workers' likely bonuses.

It all became fodder for what Chatwani calls his "consummate banker caricature." The site's first post told the tale of two gold-digging Jersey girls coming to Manhattan on a hell-bent mission for their dream bankers. "It got read way more than I had ever expected," he says. Lately, he's been poking fun at young bankers' penchant for exorbitant bottle service at nightclubs.

For all the lampooning, though, deep down Chatwani empathizes with his subjects. "It's weird," he says, fidgeting with a cuff link. "People know Wall Street is going to suck. They know they'll work 100-hour weeks. A lot of them just didn't know there was much else to do but go into banking." Recruiters would cringe at his advice to undergrads considering a career on the Street: "If you want to make money and don't really care about working a boatload or doing something creative, then it's the ideal job."

Apr 18, 2007 - 10:49am

Leveraged Sellout Part II (Originally Posted: 11/04/2010)

This post may raise some eyebrows, but to those of you troubled by what I am asking for, please go sit on something.

As for the rest of you, I really miss I don't care if the creater never worked in banking. His follies produced more laughs than any other website I have had the pleasure of persuing.

I propose a collective effort via the wallstreetoasis community to recreate something even better. Maybe we create a "thread" dedicated to leveraged sellout Pat II, in which individuals can contribute their pension to employee hyperbole at will.

Any thoughts?

Apr 18, 2007 - 10:50am

To get the wheels in motion, lets post some of our favorite LSO quotes. I'll get the party started:

As far as I'm concerned, I've been chartered to do whatever the hell kind of finance I want since I was 10, screaming at Production (Celia, my Hispanic maid) to not fuck up comb-binding my book reports. "You numbered the Table of Contents?!" I'd scream at her, winging the thing across the kitchen. And then I'd provide the brand of constructive feedback you might hear from a pissed off MD at Goldman:

"This kind of shit might fly at Banco Popular, but not in my house."

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Apr 18, 2007 - 10:51am

Too easy:

"One second I was an innocuous American car, wearing shorts and a polo. The next second-BAM! I was transformed and growling back at myself in a $3k bespoke suit, 1000 feet tall, ready to shoot M&A lasers out of my elbows. The Optimus Mother Fucking Prime of Banking, baby."

Apr 18, 2007 - 10:55am

I can't remember what post it was in, but the one that goes something along the lines of "Fi as in finance. Fi as in fickle with my private jets." is hilarious as well.

Silver banana to the first person to post it.

Apr 18, 2007 - 10:56am

Found it:

Yes, your Mom and your broke-ass girlfriend both got you gift certificates to Banana for Christmas, but that doesn't mean you wear that Middle-America shit to work, son! This is FI-nance. FI as in "FIx me a drink, Jeeves." FI as in "FIlling my wallet with Benjamins." FI as in "FIckle with my private jets." Not FI as in "FIt really well when I tried it on at the mall in Piscataway." Ugh.

Apr 18, 2007 - 10:57am

Bro, I know you only made like $55k traveling to Bumblefuck, Idaho every week to provide "strategic insight" and "thought leadership," but please, at least go to TJ Maxx and get some some slightly imperfect Brooks Brothers. Get on eBay or something and buy that shit used for God's sakes. Yes, your Mom and your broke-ass girlfriend both got you gift certificates to Banana for Christmas, but that doesn't mean you wear that Middle-America shit to work, son! This is FI-nance. FI as in "FIx me a drink, Jeeves." FI as in "FIlling my wallet with Benjamins." FI as in "FIckle with my private jets." Not FI as in "FIt really well when I tried it on at the mall in Piscataway." Ugh.

Apr 18, 2007 - 10:58am

I like my women like I like my loafers: expensive, fit, and more often than not, with a bit of bling around their necks. They're probably my two favorite things in the world, women and loafers. Put to it, I'm not even certain which one I'd pick over the other. I'd normally be tempted to select women, but, it is summer right now, meaning that until the government mandates a universally implanted, 3-month contraceptive device (sans mood swings), the winner would have to be my loafers-the ones I can safely slip into bareback.

Note: My affinity for black and brown loafers does not quite carry over to their female counterparts.

  • 2
Apr 18, 2007 - 10:59am

Right as we were getting to the door, I saw The Turd, and he was talking to an older Black man with an axe sticking out of his head.

Suddenly, it clicked.

"Wachovia!" I burst confidently from across the room, pointing at him with my index finger.

Both The Turd and Stan O'Neal turned and sent back congratulatory looks. They nodded their heads in unison, smiled, and gave me four, big shit-eating thumbs ups.

Apr 18, 2007 - 11:00am

Two analysts converse surreptitiously while eating lunch at their desks

"Yo Dude, guess what?"


"This MD at work today f*ing took off his shoes and slammed them on the desk of some HR chick and was like 'clean these.'"

"Hahah, oh snap! That is hot. Get this though, the other day, this MD accidentally spills coffee on this analyst's shirt. MD doesn't really say anything, just goes on working. The analyst is moping around all day whining about his shirt and shit. So finally, the MD drops $100 bill on the analyst's desk and goes 'Fckin quit whining and just go buy yourself a new shirt if its that big a fckin' deal.' So the analyst is all happy and shit because he got the POS at Marshalls for like $15. But then, the MD says 'But I own that shirt now, give it to me' and makes the analyst give him the shirt go the rest of the day with no shirt!"


"I know dog, they are such BALLERS. I can't wait till I'm pulling in huge deals for the firm and rockin out."

"I know dog, they'll be able to see our Big Swinging Dicks from Queens!"

"Queens? Is that in Jersey?"

I win here, I win there...
  • 2
Apr 18, 2007 - 11:02am

I just purchased my third pair of Ferragamo loafers, and I think my wardrobe is nearly complete! Looking into my closet makes me harder than I get when I smell the deep, earthy ink aroma of a fresh WSJ. My seven Burberry scarfs, folded neatly and stacked one on top of the other create a pillow of heavenly checkeredness, are my personal flair, my "je ne sais quoi," if I may. I have aggregated one Brooks Brothers shirt in every single color and in all three of their styles. I get a little nervous about wearing anything not from The Brooks, but I also got a couple Thomas Pink shirts. Apparently, it's very British; and I like to be worldly.

fdba Emory Blaine and BBA or otherwise trying to find the perfect pseudonym.
  • 1
Apr 18, 2007 - 11:03am

One time, I was in the Hamptons, and I got a call from our MD asking me to finish up a few things. I just hate getting sand in my laptop, so I called up the ol' Changster and asked him if he wouldn't mind helping me out quickly. "You're a machine, man! Shouldn't take more than a couple, ten hours," I encouraged him.

I could hear him getting into the huffing part of his impersonation over the phone, and I was curious how that lighthearted snarl might convey itself cellularly. But then he added a new element to his routine, screaming, "FINE. JUST FUCKING STOP CALLING ME CHANG! I'M KOREAN. MY LAST NAME IS LEE," and slamming down the phone.

What a joker! Love that guy.

Apr 18, 2007 - 11:04am

this one is funnier if you know the context:

"I don't' know what you're talking about, girl," he stated, flatly, a newfound air of arrogance in his voice. There was a floater sitting on top of the TV, and, staring Amy deeply in the eyes, he picked it up and slammed back the remnants. Right before exiting the room, he reached into his pocket and took out his business card, which was covered in a thin film of unadulterated, raw sugar. He showcased it briefly like a game show prize and then pressed it down firmly on top of the TV stand. Pointing at the card and then back up at his face, Rohit clarified: "That's how sweet I am."

  • 1
Apr 18, 2007 - 11:05am

LSO is hysterical. No need to ruin a good thing by trying to make a better version. I doubt anyone could do any better.

looking for that pick-me-up to power through an all-nighter?
  • 1
Apr 18, 2007 - 11:07am

What happened to Amit Chatwani?

I win here, I win there...
Apr 18, 2007 - 11:06am

"I have been practicing staring at a computer monitor for extended hours. I can currently sit motionless in front of a screen for 28 hours, and I am improving daily."

I win here, I win there...
Apr 18, 2007 - 11:08am

Leveraged Sellout (Originally Posted: 05/09/2008)

What do you guys think of the stories on the website leveraged sellout? I know it is meant to be satire, but is it at least somewhat represenatative of life in the banking world with a satirical spin?

Best Response
Apr 18, 2007 - 11:10am

Some of the stories are not THAT far off from what actually happens. For example, in his post about "The Boutique" the attitude expressed by the Goldman guy toward the boutique guy is pretty similar to what you find on Wall Street. And some of his "models and bottles" type stories do reflect how a few people in banking actually are.

I personally find the site hilarious, since I've worked in banking for 2 years - but as TabulaRasa pointed out, the author is not a banker, although he did live with bankers for a few years. There's too much detail in the stories for them to have been completely fabricated.

In summary: the stories are somewhat representative but are also extremely exaggerated.

Apr 18, 2007 - 11:12am
I think that it is basically the things that most bankers think but would never say out loud.

Perfectly summarized.

And I'll add - it's a lifestyle and attitude fantasized about by ambitious bankers, and yet fiercely denied by actual bankers and wannabe bankers alike.

The vitriol in the comments section is amazing. There's always some prude criticizing what they take at face value to be "Wall Street culture" and then someone responds that it's "just a joke", however they always seem to protest too much. It strikes a real nerve.

Apr 18, 2007 - 11:18am

Stopped doing LS a long while ago. He did write that book. I'm guessing he just moved on. This is kinda amusing...

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
Apr 18, 2007 - 11:20am

any updates? wall street musical still gets heavy rotation it seems,

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!
Apr 18, 2007 - 11:21am

Interested as well Curating the best advice and making it actionable.

  • 1
Apr 18, 2007 - 11:22am

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