Friday, August 14, 2009

The Curious Case of Equity Private, Part I

For the period of 2006-2008, I was somewhat entranced by the wizardry (and compensation) of my finance peers. One colleague, a Deutche Bank leveraged finance Associate, expressed interest in joining my consulting firm until he learned that it would entail a 70% pay cut, for example. I was blown away that finance's compensation gap on consulting was so large.

This interest naturally led me to search out interesting sources on the sector, of which a couple in particular were Equity Private and DealBreaker. There were others (yes, Leveraged Sellout), but these 2 shone above the rest in a) their degree of self-certitude, b) the disdain they layered on those they critiqued, and c) their anonymity. (Perhaps someone will accuse me of those same traits)

Equity Private, in particular, amazed me - that someone in Prviate Equity could find time to produce such volume. Hell, it takes me 20 minutes to upload a photo and write a paragraph, but she was putting out missives of complexity and incision with regularity. Half the time I didn't even understand entirely what she was writing, so I just figured she knew a lot more than I did.

Then she arrived at DealBreaker, and her voluminous posting brought her great worship and praise from the comment section.
I kept reading DealBreaker and EP, but it started to grate on me. There was something.... wrong... with the writing. Something offensive to me. it took me a while to put my finger on it to find the common theme in her writing. Finally, someone else pointed out the single word that characterizes Equity Private's writing - it's all snarky.
Snarky: "Verbal ingenuineness that is brief, subtle, yet quite stabbing. snark is often marked by deep creativity & use of psychological attack. It employs coldbloodedness and is best served unprovoked. Snark can contain hidden complimentary meaning under a mean face, but it hurts more than it strengthens." - Urban Dictionary
That definition fits her writing like a key to a lock.


Anonymous said...

Just curious... is this is a judgment or just an observation? Or something else?

Hammerspace said...

I don't know anything about Equity Private, but this post did make me think of old time master satirists such as Alexander Pope, whose work was certainly biting, but also had prescriptive value.

The cost of communication is at an all-time low, and I wonder if the ubiquity of snark, which I would characterize as satire's unproductive and self-important cousin, is just a natural reflection of that.

When I see things (just a few examples, in no particular order) like...

...I feel as though it's is clear that the snark element--e.g. frittering away time while trying to look cool (and maybe hoping to cash out on a book deal)--is high in much of this stuff.

In the same way that Pope is remembered but many more 18th c satirists have been forgotten, a lot of this content will fade away.

CN, is this the same kind of conversation you had in mind with your post?

Friday, August 14, 2009