May 1, 2009
The faint glow of my computer screen was the only light emanating from my section of the floor. Like clockwork, the lights had shut off yet again with no one to turn them on but me. Not even a janitor nor another soul was on the floor. I just finished the second season of “The Office”. My only friend at 3:42 am on a Wednesday morning was Steve Carrell (and ovguide.com) while I waited for colored copies of a Project California presentation to come off the press. Apathetic Associate took off at midnight, giving me strict instructions to wait for the books so I could methodically “flip” them to check for alignment issues, upside down pages and binding issues. This presentation was the real shit: metal, spiral bindings, full color, single sided, Failed Bank Colors in a heavy graded front and back cover. The CLIENT presentation. I moseyed along downstairs, inevitably running into other analysts on the way down to the 24-hour print center. The print staff allowed me to begin to flip the books right there and then as they came off the printer. Colors okay? Check. Pages in correct order? Check. Massive paper cut and dry hands from flipping 50-page pitch books? Check.
Forty five minutes later, I returned to my floor and dropped the massive stack of books onto Apathetic Associate’s desk. Naturally, I wouldn’t be allowed to go to this meeting as a lowly first year. I quickly shot off an e-mail to AA: “Books are done. I left them on your desk.”
I would return to the office just four hours later to the chipper sounds of my colleagues arriving in the morning.
While I downed my second latte from Starfucks at 11:30am, the floor buzzed with excitement as the associates and VPs filed into the offices of their respective MD’s for year-end reviews and bonus numbers. The anticipation was palpable as we took odds on where the associates (our most direct supervisors/slave drivers) would fall in their classes. It was cathartic and simulated a perverse form of retribution. Analysts felt elated when the truly wicked associates got cut down in their reviews and were shafted on their bonus, often emerging from the MD’s offices with dejected faces and/or flaring nostrils.
Douchebag Associate: No odds. Guaranteed bonus for the 2007 year.
Evil Associate: 2:1 odds on being in the top tier of her class. She flirted shamelessly with the senior managers, had no qualms of playing dirty and maintained a facade of intelligence, kindness and helpfulness. Someone give her a fucking Academy Award for her performance imitating a human.
Apathetic Associate: 25:1 odds on being even remotely close to top tier. If AA’s functionality as an associate mimicked his drinking abilities, he would have been promoted to MD in his first year. Unfortunately, these two were inversely correlated. AA didn’t ‘play the game’ and wasn’t exactly Mr. Charismatic.
Our MD didn’t get around to handing out numbers to our group until mid-afternoon. I could tell that my associates and VPs were almost pee-ing themselves with excitement especially since the reported news from other groups was “bonuses flat” despite the downward spiral of every investment bank on Wall Street.
Evil Associate bounced down the hall in her 4-inch heels to our MD’s office which happened to be right in my direct vision line. There was a lot of nodding and the warranted hair toss. She emerged a quick 10 minutes later, a shit eating grin on her face. Figures. I fired off a quick IM to Mr. Burrito: “FUUUCKKK!” Within a few seconds, my IM beeped. “i hate that bitch”
Apathetic Associate was next. His walk to his fate was more lethargic, head cocked to the side, hollow eyes staring forward. He sat down, slouching a bit, his head shifting from side to side. WTF. I couldn’t tell if he 1) fell asleep, 2) died, or 3) was just that bored. As he exited, he remained expressionless and shuffled back down the hall. Well that was supremely uneventful. As I pondered something witty to write to Mr. Burrito, I heard giggling with the familiar stomp of Evil Associate’s Jimmy Choos with the unmistakable trumble of AA. Smelly Homeless Kid perked up next to me, abandoning his GMAT book and popping up like a creepy gopher from his cube (internal monologue: why the fuck does he have a GMAT book? And why does he have time to study it? And why wont’ he get a damn haircut?!)
SHK: “Hey! Where ya guys going?”
Evil Associate: (with permanently plastered grin on her face) “WE…are going to pick out Rolexes!”
(Apathetic Associate mustered a weak smile. *gasp*! An emotion!)
SHK: “Very awesome! You guys coming back before the holiday party?
Evil Associate: “I think we’re going for early happy hour..”
I watched as the pair happily turned the corner. A window popped up on my desktop.
Michael Kors (16:34:02): Are they really going to pick out Rolexes?
Fashion Financier (16:34:38): Looks like.
Michael Kors (16:35:17): Ridiculous. So, Debt Debt’s been looking at Philippe Starck furniture. She wants to get those ugly plastic chairs at $500 a pop.
Fashion Financier (16:35:59): How is she not in debt?
Michael Kors (16:36:24): Oh, she is. I heard her on the phone with debt consolidators. Her idea is that her bonus will take care of everything.
(Note: Pay attention peoples! Not just Main Street who can’t service debt with cash flow)
Fashion Financier (16:36:47): Are you f’ing serious. Exactly how much debt is she in?!
Michael Kors (16:37:11): 5 figures. I ‘accidentally’ saw when she was checking her online CC bill.
Fashion Financier (16:37:22): Freak.
Michael Kors brought stalking/eavesdropping to a whole new level. I became his humble apprentice that day.
February 7, 2009
Nothing, and I mean nothing, can prepare you for the first deal you’ve ever worked on. Especially not when you’ve been sitting around, playing online games, trying to go to sites that are inevitably blocked by the firm and chatting with your cube mates.
As I wandered down the hall to the office Apathetic Associate shared with the Evil Incarnate, I passed the corner office of the Hot VP. I gave a little wave and donned that award winning smile I’ve been known to give. His eyes, full of intensity, glanced up from the massive document he was reading and gave me a slight nod and smile. Wandering into the office, I tripped over a bright red mini Hermes Birkin which belonged to none other than Evil Incarnate. Note that at this point in time, this fresh-faced and naive first year thought that we could actually be friends. I was in shock. If the Evil Incarnate could afford a Birkin ($10,000 starting price) on her previous year’s bonus, this gig wasn’t too bad.
“Oops, my b!” She smiled and pulled the bag away from the walk way. “How’s it going? You kids settling in alright?”
“Yes. Just came by to see Apathetic Associate.” At the mention of his name, AA plucked out an earbud from his ipod and began gathering up some things.
“Right, Project California. We’re putting together a stapled financing package for the acquisition of this asset for Poorly-Named-PE shop. The coverage team did the M&A work, representing the Seller of the asset. Poorly-Named-PE shop was the high bidder at $406 million. The syndicate desk likes this deal because it’s stable.” As he began to explain what we would be doing, my eyes glazed over and my mind began to wander. I noticed the little ear hairs he had starting to sprout out at the ripe young age of 26. His posture was one of a defeated man as he eased back into the $1,000 Herman Miller chairs which the Investment-Bank-that-No-Longer-Exists insisted on getting for everyone.
“I think it’d make sense if you went through the Confidential Information Memo (“CIM”) that the coverage guys put together. Should give you a good sense of what the asset is like.”
“Sure.” Gathering the papers up, I walked out of the office, confident and smiling. First deal staffing and it really wasn’t so painful. Forgetting that it was Friday afternoon at 4, I sat down to begin digging through the crux of what was going on in this deal. The Seller was not a private entity and was unloading the asset as a result of low capital and low liquidity. In short, the Seller needed money, fast. Additionally, the asset would be better harvested by a private group rather than a public one. From all standards in my particular industry, the asset was considered a very good one, generating stable cash flows from its 3, 10 to 15 year contracts with offtakers of the services the asset provided. Should be a “slam dunk” as bankers would refer to a deal that was so easily executed and closed.
Then, at 5 pm on the nose, it felt like the floor had been abandoned. Smelly Homeless Kid (“SHK”) got up with his duffel bag. “Time to hit the gym. I’ll be back for some Seamless action.”
(Sidenote: The ‘action’ that SHK was referring to is the online food ordering system known as Seamless Web. My sources tell me that before this nifty system, bankers who worked past a certain time would receive a per diem for dinner and could subsequently leave the confines of the office to breathe in a few lungfuls of that pollution filled city air. They would round up a few of their friends and have a nice meal before returning back to the office. However, once the Seamless Web system came into fruition, all bets were off. No one could leave for a nightly meal and instead were relegated to “team dinners” in the conference rooms (assuming people liked each other enough to order together). The rules with ordering Seamless Web were quite simple. Begin ordering at 6pm ONLY if you left after 8pm. Like everything in life, when you leave a bunch of bankers who spend their every waking moment trying to pitch you shitty products and unnecessary services, you’ll find people who game the system. Thus, the now defunct Investment Bank started making people not only swipe in through the entrance, but they had to swipe out as well. That way, they could track whether or not you were actually staying past 8pm to order the meal.)
As SHK wandered out with a walk that can only be characterized as a duck with a stick up its ass, the Evil Incarnate rapidly walked past my cube with Apathetic Associate in tow. Naturally, they both had all their things and were headed out. She quickly waived and disappeared around the corner. Not 3 minutes later, I received an e-mail.
From: Apathetic Associate
To: Fashion Financier(e)
Sent: Fri Oct 26 17:11:34 2007
Hey. Hot VP wants to put together a debt sizing for Monday. M&A model is on the drive. Could you please put one together? I will review on Sunday. Thanks.
What. the. fuck. I hadn’t opened Excel thusfar unless you counted getting high scores on all the games imbedded in Excel. I didn’t have a clue in hell as to how to even begin. It was clear from the beginning that my cube mates, while good for chatting and causing trouble, were not going to be helpful in any work sense. They worked on completely different products. I put my snooping skills to good use as I waded through the folders on our deal drive HOPING to find some resemblance of the model that I was put together. Luckily for me, this type of model was the only type we put together. No discounted cash flow models, no comps, no valuations of any sort.
I finally started a new sheet which I so creatively entitled “Project California Debt Sizingv1.xls” and got to work.