New York, Feb. 25: A three-year parlour game has been taking place on Wall Street to identify the Goldman Sachs employee behind a Twitter account that purports to reveal the uncensored comments overheard in the firm’s elevators.
The Twitter account, @GSElevator, reports overheard remarks like, “I never give money to homeless people. I can’t reward failure in good conscience.”
The Twitter account, which has an audience of more than 600,000 followers, has been the subject of an internal inquiry at Goldman to find the rogue employee.
The tweets, often laced with insider references to deals in the news, appeal to both Wall Street bankers and outsiders who mock the industry. Late last month, the writer sold a book about Wall Street culture based on the tweets for a six-figure sum.
There is a good reason Goldman Sachs has been unable to uncover its Twitter-happy employee: he doesn’t work at the firm. And he never did.
The author is a 34-year-old former bond executive who lives in Texas. His name is John Lefevre.
He had tried to remain anonymous, scrubbing the Internet of mentions of his name and pictures of himself on all but a handful of sites. Some people had already speculated that @GSElevator was not hanging around the halls of Goldman.
Upon being contacted late last week after several weeks of reporting uncovered his identity, he confirmed his alter ego. “Frankly, I’m surprised it has taken this long,” he said by phone. “I knew this day would come.”
Lefevre, who worked for Citigroup for seven years, said the Twitter account started as “a joke to entertain myself”.
He quickly interrupted the inevitable line of questioning about how he had never worked at Goldman and appeared to be an impostor. “To pre-empt what you’re about to say, legally speaking,” he said, “I was never explicitly an employee of the firm.”
Lefevre was offered a job as head of debt syndicate in Asia at Goldman’s Hong Kong office in August 2010, but the offer was later revoked, according to people at the firm who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the matter. Lefevre said his previous employer contended that he was bound by a non-compete agreement and “things turned nasty with my old boss and he threatened a lawsuit against me and Goldman”.
By Lefevre’s own account of his experience with Goldman: “My contract was never rescinded. We cordially agreed to part ways to avoid a public mess. I don’t know how much I can talk about it. It wasn’t acrimonious.”
Pressed about whether he had implicitly misrepresented himself as a Goldman employee, he said he deliberately never said in any of his tweets that he worked for the firm. “This was never about me as a person,” he said. “It wasn’t about a firm. The stories aren’t Goldman Sachs in particular. It was about the culture in general.”
A Goldman spokesman, after being told that @GSElevator had been unmasked, said in a statement: “We are pleased to report that the official ban on talking in elevators will be lifted effective immediately.”
The fact that Lefevre was not a Goldman employee did not appear to dissuade his publisher, Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, which said it had not been misled. “He’s been pretty straight with us the entire time, so this is not a surprise,” said the book’s editor, Matthew Benjamin, who bought the book without ever meeting Lefevre. “That you’re writing about him speaks to the interest he’s generated. We always expected his identity to be revealed at some point.”