Silicon Valley Bank Names New CEO, Staff Targets Former Bank Chief


            By Harriet Alexander for
          <span class="date">05.41 14 March 2023, updated 06.21 14 March 2023</span>
  • Tim Mayopoulos, a veteran finance executive, was named chief executive on Monday and said in a letter to clients that the lender is ‘conducting business as usual’
  • Staff at Silicon Valley Bank have reacted furiously to the ‘absolutely idiotic’ actions of their former bosses in the days leading up to the bank’s collapse
  • CEO Greg Becker is accused of mishandling the situation and not trying hard enough to prop up his sinking bank

Silicon Valley Bank’s new chief executive emailed clients to tell them it’s ‘business as usual’ despite the ‘extremely challenging’ past few days – as staff were left wondering how their former bosses could make such ‘absolutely idiotic’ errors of judgment.

Tim Mayopoulos was appointed as the new chief executive on Monday morning after the government sacked the existing managers.

“Silicon Valley Bank, NA is open and conducting business as usual,” Mayopolous wrote in an email to all customers sent Monday afternoon.

‘We are here to serve you. I recognize that the past few days have been an extremely challenging time for our customers and our employees, and we are grateful for the support of the amazing community we serve.

‘I have taken over as managing director as of today.’

Tim Mayopoulos was named the new CEO of Silicon Valley Bank on Monday
Greg Becker was fired as CEO on Friday when federal authorities took over

He said he came to the role with ‘humility’, ‘experience’ and ‘an appreciation of the innovation economy.’

Mayopoulos is seen by many in the industry as a pair of safe hands, as he has experience both in crisis-hit financial companies and in technology.

He joined Fannie Mae in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and rose to become president and CEO, returning the company to profitability and delivering more than $167 billion in dividends to taxpayers.

He left in 2018 and in January 2019 joined technology company Blend, which provides cloud-based software that enables banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders and other fintech companies to process billions of dollars of mortgage and consumer banking transactions per day.

He told SVB’s customers in his email: ‘We are looking to restore your trust and support you and your businesses at this time.’

SVB’s website has now been refreshed and updated and declares: ‘Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, NA is a newly formed, FDIC operated, full service ‘bridge bank’. The bank is open for business and new and existing depositors have full access to their money.’

Mayopoulos’ appointment and his immediate, confident outpouring the government hopes will calm markets and reassure jittery investors. It was agreed upon at warp speed.

SVB’s website is now up and running again, with a note at the top that it is ‘business as usual’
People walk through the parking lot of Silicon Valley Bank’s headquarters in Santa Clara on Friday after the bank was shut down by financial regulators
The Silicon Valley Bank New York office is empty in New York on Friday
A worker (center) tells people that Silicon Valley Bank’s headquarters are closed Friday after the bank was shut down by regulators and had its assets seized by the FDIC

Federal agencies took over the bank on Friday, and after a deeply traumatic weekend, the Federal Reserve announced Sunday evening that all deposits would be returned in full to customers.

The funds for the rescue will come from a reserve created in the wake of the banking crisis in 2008, paid for by taxes on all the banks.

Staff at Silicon Valley Bank are questioning how their bosses managed to mistreat the struggling financial institution and demand to know why they didn’t do more to save it.

Greg Becker, the former CEO, told employees on Friday that the bank was closing.

“It is with an incredibly heavy heart that I am here to deliver this message,” he said in a video message.

“I can’t imagine what was going through your head wondering, you know, about your job, your future.”

But employees accuse Becker – who has been removed as chief executive by the government – of not acting with enough urgency to save the bank.

Silicon Valley Bank CEO Greg Becker speaks at a conference in 2018. The bank’s collapse is the second largest bank failure in US history
President Joe Biden is pictured with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The federal government moved quickly to prevent contagion from SVB’s collapse

Joe Biden said in a statement issued Sunday night: ‘I am firmly committed to holding those responsible for this mess fully accountable and to continuing our efforts to strengthen the oversight and regulation of major banks so that we are not in this position again.’

The bank’s downfall began with a rumor in late February that Moody’s planned to downgrade its rating, and the calling in of Goldman Sachs to help fend off the damaging news.

On March 8, the bank announced a plan to strengthen the bank – and prevent the downgrade – but the announcement backfired spectacularly and panicked investors, who began pulling their funds from the bank.

On March 9, it was taken under federal control.

Jeff Sonnenfeld, executive director of the Yale School of Management’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute (CELI), told CNN he was shocked by the “tone-deaf, botched execution” of the bank’s struggles.

‘Someone lit a match and the bank yelled, ‘Fire!’ — to really pull the alarm bells out of genuine concern for transparency and honesty,” said Sonnenfeld and Steven Tian, ​​CELI’s director of research.

The pair told CNN that the announcement of an unannounced $2.25 billion capital increase Wednesday night was “unnecessary” because Silicon Valley Bank had sufficient capital well beyond regulatory requirements.

Moreover, there was no need to disclose the $1.8 billion loss at the same time.

The clumsy announcement ‘understandably sparked widespread hysteria amid a rush to withdraw deposits.’ The staff were blunt in their assessment.

A pedestrian passes a Silicon Valley Bank Private branch in San Francisco on Monday

“It was absolutely idiotic,” said one employee who works on the asset management side.

The employee told CNN that management was deeply wrong to announce the problem without having the solution ready.

“They were very transparent. It’s the exact opposite of what you’d normally see in a scandal. But their transparency and straightforwardness won them over.’

The employee said there was anger that Becker had not been more proactive in finding funds to support the bank.

“People are just shocked at how stupid the CEO is,” the Silicon Valley Bank insider said.

‘You’ve been working for 40 years and you’re telling me you can’t raise $2 billion privately?

‘Get on a jet and fly to Kuwait like everyone else and give them control of a third of the bank.’

However, the employee added that the bosses were naive but not crooks.

“The saddest thing is that this place is Boy Scouts,” he said. ‘They made mistakes, but they are not bad people.’

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