Marc Rubinstein: ‘The Demise of Silicon Valley Bank’

The best explanation of what happened to Silicon Valley Bank is this piece by Marc Rubinstein at Net Interest:

“When you’re not working, what do you do to de-stress?”

That was the last question Greg Becker, CEO of Silicon Valley Bank, fielded at an investor conference on Tuesday this week.

“Cycling is my advice,” he replied. “Living in Northern California and being on the peninsula. That’s just — I think it’s the best bike-riding cycling in the world, period.”

Three days later, Becker’s bank is in receivership.

Now that’s a lede.

Rubinstein links to this piece at another Substack site, Nongaap Investing, which points to a boy-that-sure-looks-bad-in-hindsight oddity in SVB’s corporate governance: the bank did not have a Chief Risk Officer for most of 2022:

In particular, the most interesting disclosure is the company didn’t have a Chief Risk Officer for much of 2022, and (from what I can gather) doesn’t explicitly communicate this to shareholders until the 2023 Preliminary Proxy is filed on March 8, 2023.

This non-disclosure immediately makes me wonder what caused former Chief Risk Officer Laura Izurieta to leave the role and create such a glaring hole in risk oversight during such a critical time. [...]

Given that Ms. Izurieta sold $4 million worth of shares in December 2021 just before the company would approach her to begin discussions regarding her transition out of the Chief Risk Officer role, I can’t help but wonder if she realized the bank’s balance sheet was a ticking time bomb when she sold the stock.

The optics look pretty bad.

Pretty bad indeed.

Saturday, 11 March 2023