Forsaken: The Edge of Everything
Venture Estate Savings and Loan
They do not advertise. All their employees are scouted and invited. They own a stately twelve-story in San Francisco’s financial district, but operate only on the top floor. The lights stay on all through the night.
On paper, Venture Estate Savings & Loan is not among the wealthiest or most prominent investment banks in the world, or even in the country. But their clientèle — also invite-only — form a who’s-who of politics and industry. When other firms try to leverage their size and power, Venture Estate leverages its clients, a few of whom always have a seat on their rivals’ boards. The bank is like a small, stately tree, roots stretching miles under the earth, wrapped around the roots of much bigger trees, ready to choke.
The bank’s origins can be traced back at least to New Amsterdam, to an enterprising Dutch shopkeep whose motto (which means “keeping stock,”) Venture Estate still uses today. They remained a minor but formidable player in East Coast finance until the Great Depression. Opposing the reckless practices which doomed Wall Street in the Roaring 20’s, the bank picked up stakes and moved to more promising California. There, they provided capital to West Coast innovators, helping to spur military-industrial growth as of WWII, and computer technology thereafter.
Venture Estate’s portfolio is reasonably broad, but has kept on the right edge of innovation since they first opened for business. This belies the firm’s old-money sensibilities, its bankers going about in three-piece European suits, some with watch chains, smoking cigars in plush rooms where the books have matching bindings. Preferring the trappings of the old, they embrace the new to keep the income coming in.
“Taste is a gentleman,” they like to say, “money is a whore.”