One Silicon Valley Bank employee, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, pointed the finger at CEO Greg Becker for allowing the company to go down in history as the second-biggest US banking failure on record.
The employee said they were dumbfounded by how Becker publicly acknowledged the extent of the bank’s financial troubles before privately lining up the necessary financial support to ride out the storm.
This set the stage for the panic that ensued as customers scrambled to pull their money.
“That was absolutely idiotic,” the employee, who works on the asset management side of Silicon Valley Bank, told CNN in an interview. “They were being very transparent. It’s the exact opposite of what you’d normally see in a scandal. But their transparency and forthrightness did them in.”
“People are just shocked at how stupid the CEO is,” the Silicon Valley Bank insider said. “You’re in business for 40 years and you are 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 one-third of the bank.”
Silicon Valley Bank did not respond to requests for comment but Becker has reportedly apologized to employees about the situation.
Because Silicon Valley Bank had sufficient capital far in excess of regulatory requirements, the announcement of an unsubscribed $2.25 billion capital raise Wednesday night was “unnecessary,” according to Jeff Sonnenfeld, CEO of the Yale School of Management’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute (CELI) and Steven Tian, CELI’s research director.
There was no need to simultaneously reveal the $1.8 billion loss, they added, saying the announcements should have been spaced out by a week or two to manage the response. The one-two punch “understandably sparked widespread hysteria amidst a rush to pull deposits.”