The nerd's revenge: only elites need apply

AN investment banker’s quandary: how do you get your favourite clients to invest a large chunk of cash in a private firm on the basis of little financial information and a huge valuation?

If anyone knows, it’s those ex-Ivy Leaguers at Goldman. Surely practised in the art of sending out intriguing invitations to events for secret societies, Goldman bankers sent out a 400-word invitation to tempt investors toward a $2m minimum investment in Facebook.

“When you have the chance, I wanted to find a time to discuss a highly confidential and time sensitive investment opportunity in a private company,” says the mysterious missive.

“For confidentiality reasons, I am unable to tell you the name of the company,” it teases. It only needed a wax seal.

Of course, the presentation is particularly fitting if you believe the story of the recent movie The Social Network, a semi-fictionalised account of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s brief spell at Harvard before he dropped out.

The film supposes that he created the website in order to curry favour with the privileged kids who populate Harvard’s exclusive “Final Clubs”, party clubs housed in mansions.

Now, it seems, Facebook equity is itself the grand prize open only to a select few. The geek gets the last laugh.

RUN OUT OF TOWN
England cricket fans might have had a merry time yesterday, as the national team streaked ahead ­– and is likely to clinch an Ashes victory today – but bookie Sporting Index wasn’t quite so jubilant.

With the original market in favour of Australia at 90-130 runs, those Barmy Army punters who bought in at £10 a run came away with a cool £9,420 by the end of the day’s exertions, as England soared to 852 runs ahead of the Aussies.

As a spokesman for the bookie summarised it: “A severe case of the runs at Sporting Index.”

FINE WINES
In a review of last year’s investment opportunities, Robin Boyle, managing director of investment company Athelney Trust, has highlighted a particularly good bet: “The value of investment-grade Claret rose 32 per cent on the back of demand from Asia,” he wrote in his summary, “but wine has a great advantage over all other types of investment in that winners and losers may buy the stuff – the former to celebrate, the latter to commiserate.”

As for stock-picking globally, Boyle insists that not even the psychic Paul the Octopus, who so mysteriously predicted the outcome of many a World Cup match before he died, would have had trouble in 2010, given the backwards progress in fashionable markets like China and Brazil. An unfortunate way to loose a few million squid.

ANT ON DECK
Shoppers at Land Securities’ One New Change ­– the City’s only seven-day mall – might have been bemused to come across annoyingly chirpy entertainment duo Ant and Dec on the roof terrace yesterday. It seems the cheerful pair were busy filming for Britain’s Got Talent. The Capitalist has never been able to remember which of the two boyish presenters is which, but the important matter was that they both seemed to fit comfortably under one Union Jack umbrella.