Wall Street

Goldman's nightmare: @GSElevator gets book deal

Tracy Alloway

What is good news for Kate Upton, Vanilla Ice and Bette Midler might make grim reading for Goldman Sachs executives as the anonymous author behind the @GSElevator Twitter profile has agreed a deal to turn his allegedly insider observations into a tell-all book about life at the bank.

Tentatively entitled "Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance and Excess in the World of Investment Banking," the book is due for an October 2014 publication and, according to its anonymous author, is intended to be "the definitive exposure of investment banking culture . . . shedding new light on a world that is far more abhorrent, and yet, way more entertaining than people can imagine."

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The @GSElevator Twitter profile began tweeting some three years ago, tapping into a wave of anti-bank sentiment with messages such as "My garbage disposal eats better than 98 percent of the world," and "I really do hope they have golf in Hell." @GSElevator has since attracted more than 600,000 followers on the social media network, dwarfing the number of followers of Goldman's own official profile.

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The comical tweets, supposedly conversational nuggets overheard while riding the lifts at Goldman, became compulsory reading for bankers, their clients and celebrities—with senior Goldman executives such as Anthony Noto, who helped the firm nab the coveted lead position on Twitter's initial public offering last year, also joining the ranks of GSElevator subscribers.

The book has been picked up by Simon & Schuster, one of the "big four" publishers, after being touted by literary agency Waxman Leavell.

Matthew Benjamin, senior editor of Simon & Schuster, declined to comment on how much @GSElevator's anonymous author will be paid for the book.

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Straight to Hell will be published under the pseudonym "J.T. Stone," and will chart the career of @GSElevator, from his first steps as a junior analyst through to his work in the world of fixed income in New York, London and Hong Kong.

News of the book deal will come as a disappointment to Goldman, which has been attempting to redefine its relationship with social media and revamp the bank's public image in the wake of the financial crisis.

In early 2012 Goldman sought a "community manager/social media strategist" to handle its presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, after a wave of negative publicity—including a scathing op-ed by former employee Greg Smith.

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Mr. Smith published his own book after signing a deal worth a reported $1.5 million, but his narrative of his time at Goldman failed to make as big a splash as the op-ed.

Worryingly for Goldman, "J.T. Stone" considers Mr. Smith's account of his time at the bank to be "all bark and no bite," according to a book pitch seen by the Financial Times. A spokesman for Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

"Straight to Hell" may prove different to the current reality of Goldman Sachs.

Bonuses at the bank have fallen to their lowest in four years, and Goldman has discouraged junior investment banking analysts from working on weekends and also launched a firm-wide initiative to improve its relationship with its customers.

"The man in the GS Elevator is the wonderfully belligerent flag bearer of pre-recession Wall Street," said Mr. Benjamin of Simon & Schuster. "This only adds to the humor and escapism. We're drawn to books like 'Liar's Poker' and 'The Wolf of Wall Street' because they tell of a moment that has passed—that we can't experience, but we'd like to."

By Tracy Alloway of the Financial Times