Prominent tech companies, liberal news outlets, and a Democratic politician’s vineyards are among the thousands of businesses that breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday when the Biden administration moved to bail out Silicon Valley Bank.
Silicon Valley Bank maintained $209 billion in assets and $175.4 billion in total deposits, making it the 16th-largest bank in the country. It was the second-largest bank to fail in American history when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation took control of the institution on Friday.
President Joe Biden has insisted that the FDIC’s move was not a bailout, and claimed his administration is working to protect “American workers and small businesses.” But average Americans won’t benefit the most from the bailout. Ninety-three percent of the bank’s depositors kept more than $250,000 in the bank.
While the California bank was famous for its rolodex of tech clients, it happily accepted deposits from all manner of people, including some of the individuals and institutions involved in pushing the Biden administration’s bailout.
Here are just a few.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D.) trio of wineries are clients of the failed financial institution, as is the governor himself. He has maintained personal accounts at the failed bank for years, the Intercept reported, citing a former Newsom aide. Newsom’s efforts to rescue Silicon Valley Bank’s clients could also put him on the wrong side of the law. California law prohibits elected officials from influencing official matters in which “the official has a financial interest,” Insider reported.
Newsom was instrumental in convincing Biden over the weekend that a bailout of the failing bank was necessary. He was also one of the first politicians nationwide to hail the president’s swift move on Sunday to make all of Silicon Valley Bank’s clients whole. Newsom was one of many high-profile Democrats who received money from Silicon Valley Bank, whose employees have also given tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates and causes.
The emotional toll Newsom may have faced had his wineries failed amid Silicon Valley Bank’s implosion would have likely been equally as devastating as the impact on his bottom line. He refused to sell his businesses when he first ran for governor in 2018, saying: “These are my babies, my life, my family. I can’t do that. I can’t sell them.”
Liberal online media company BuzzFeed revealed to investors Monday that it held $56 million in cash and cash equivalents as of the end of 2022, the majority of which was held at Silicon Valley Bank. The news capped off a not-so-banner 2022 fiscal year for BuzzFeed, in which the company weathered a net loss of $201.3 million, laid off 40 percent of its newsroom, and saw its stock price plummet by 90 percent.
BuzzFeed has placed little focus on the bank’s collapse, having mentioned the story in its morning newsletter, a quiz published Wednesday, as well as a passing reference in a Tuesday story about a “viral alpha male finance podcast parody sketch.” None of the stories mentioned BuzzFeed’s financial connection to the bank.
As part of its efforts to right its ship, BuzzFeed announced it would leverage artificial intelligence to spin up viral listicles and quizzes. BuzzFeed News editor in chief Karolina Waclawiak also told the company’s remaining editorial staffers at a recent meeting to shift away from long-form news reporting and prioritize click-bait celebrity news, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Vox Media, the parent company of dozens of liberal news companies including Vox, New York magazine, the Verge, and Polygon, disclosed in news stories that it banked with Silicon Valley Bank before its collapse.
Unlike BuzzFeed, Vox has disclosed its financial connection to the failed bank in news stories this week. That hasn’t stopped the outlet, however, from carrying water for the Biden administration. On Tuesday, for example, it published a story mocking concerns that Silicon Valley Bank’s fixation on woke initiatives may have contributed to its demise.
Vox spokeswoman Lauren Starke told the Washington Post that the company doesn’t anticipate “any significant impact” due to the bank’s failure but added that it has suffered “logistical issues such as the temporary suspension of accounts and company credit cards.”
In a Monday piece on Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse, Vox competitor the Dispatch parenthetically disclosed it had been a Silicon Valley Bank customer.
Black Lives Matter
While Black Lives Matter isn’t a known client of Silicon Valley Bank, the bank’s untimely failure marks the end of a significant gravy train for the movement.
Silicon Valley Bank and its employees contributed more than $73 million to the Black Lives Matter movement and related causes since 2020, according to a database maintained by the Claremont Institute.
The Green Energy Racket
Silicon Valley Bank’s failure could have delivered a seismic blow to the climate change industry and the more than 1,550 technology companies that specialize in solar, hydrogen, and battery storage solutions that held funds at the bank, had Biden not bailed the institution out.
Still, the bank’s failure will have lingering effects for the industry, with insiders warning that Silicon Valley Bank was often the only institution willing to lend funds for their projects.
“Silicon Valley Bank was in many ways a climate bank,” Kiran Bhatraju, the chief executive of the nation’s largest community solar manager, Arcadia, told the New York Times. “When you have the majority of the market banking through one institution, there’s going to be a lot of collateral damage.”
Wedbush Securities technology sector analyst David Ives added that the bank’s failure is a “major blow to early-stage and even late-stage tech startups.”
Silicon Valley Bank “was the bank that would always pick up the phone when other large money center banks wouldn’t,” Ives told Politico.