Thanks for reading The Backstory, our weekly digest of the best new work at Puck.
It was another fantastic week: Matt Belloni broke the story of an only-in-Hollywood tale involving CAA, Netflix, and Nancy Meyers; Tara Palmeri penetrated the big A.O.C. mystery on Capitol Hill; Dylan Byers got the readout from Zaz’s visit to Chris Licht’s troops at CNN; and Tina Nguyen and Julia Ioffe explained why DeSantis went soft on Putin. Meanwhile, Bill Cohan offered the inside story of what really went down at SVB while Teddy Schleifer broke the news on the V.C. shuttle diplomacy that made the Peninsula whole.
Check out these stories, and others, via the links below. And stick around for the backstory on how it all came together.
|Things move fast, as Ferris Bueller liked to say. Take our financial crises. Back in the halcyon days of 2008, when Facebook and Twitter were still privately financed startups, Bear Stearns took its first emergency loan in March, Lehman capitulated in the fall, and Andrew Ross Sorkin’s tome-like account of the economy’s near-death experience wasn’t published until the fall of the following year.
Now juxtapose that with the events from the past ten days, in which Silicon Valley Bank failed in a heartbeat, Signature followed suit, First Republic was put on life support, and even the venerable (if post-prime) Credit Suisse had to be backstopped. Meanwhile, the biography of our age in the financial markets was being written in real time on social media by the likes of investor bards Jason Calacanis and Bill Ackman, among many many others.
In moments like this, I’m supremely lucky to have Bill Cohan, the financial chronicler of our time, as my partner. Having written a pair of best-sellers about ’08, Bill was quick to understand the similarities and differences, and provide the sort of unique real-time clarity that was so conspicuously missing on social media. I urge you to spend some time this weekend reading his masterful two-part series on the collapse, SVB’s Valley of Death and Two Days in the Valley, which provide a necessary post-mortem and a critical view of banking in the age of backstopping.
After 2008, bailout sausage-making became a cultural fascination. As the public became increasingly familiar with the heroes and villains of the crisis, the Hank Paulsons and Dick Fulds, respectively, so grew our appetite for the hugely consequential closed-door conversations during which the most critical decisions were made: who would get bailed out, who wouldn’t, at what price, and so forth.
On the very day that Silicon Valley Bank’s depositors were being made whole, my partner Teddy Schleifer was putting the finishing touches on some brilliant reportage regarding what really went down behind the scenes, off Twitter. The Ron Conway Bailout elegantly explains how the veritable ambassador of Silicon Valley, whose own investing career spans the timeline of the bank that bore its name, conducted shuttle diplomacy—meeting with Obama and Pelosi, calling Kamala—and, as usual, seeing around corners. It’s an incredible read.
If you’re SVB’d out, however, I’d love to make one final suggestion. Five years ago, an anonymous bartender stunned the political world by defeating a Democratic poohbah and ushering in a new style of engaged liberalism on the left. A.O.C. arrived on Capitol Hill unburdened by traditional party fealties, and prepared to create headaches for Pelosi and Trump, alike. These days, though, A.O.C.’s public persona far exceeds her clout in Congress. And yet she’s also changed her tune on the Hill, and apparently settled on a new political horizon.
Of course, everyone is trying to figure out her plan—will she primary Gillibrand? Will she want to serve another decade in the lower chamber? What will she do once she turns 35, the Constitution’s threshold age for the presidency, in two years? Tara Palmeri’s exquisite piece, The Remaking of A.O.C., gets at the answers from the inside. Indeed, it’s the story of our time, and precisely the sort of work that you should expect from Puck.
Have a great weekend,