"It's my fault," is the first thing Eduardo Saverin says whenever someone spends too long looking at the sign over reception. Apparently he's used to all their guests trying to sound out desenrascanço in their heads. He's got long fingers and he uses them to wave dismissively as he says, "It's Portuguese."
What does it mean?
"It sort of translates into disentanglement, but it means to solve a problem without the tools or background you'd normally need for it," he explains, and he smiles. "In short: MacGuyvering it — it's kind of the ethos of the place."
— Eduardo Saverin Is Making This Up as He Goes Along, Portfolio, December 2013
After the abject shitshow of Palo Alto, Eduardo's plans are to stop proving his father right about all his life decisions, shut up, graduate, and keep abusing the slow-healing wound from Mark's knife in the back until all the scar tissue is numb from dead nerve endings. Everybody back at Harvard sort of assumes he doesn't want to talk about it, that he's trying to tiptoe around the ceramic shards of his broken heart, and he probably would be if the plan wasn't just to preemptively stomp them into dust.
So he keeps showing his face at social events and whenever anybody tries to needle him about Facebook he doesn't bother to be anything but honestly self-effacing about it: he was a fucking moron, serves him right for being a soft God damn touch, and that cuts so efficiently to the quick that nobody has anything else to say about it.
He's moved on from oil futures because he doesn't have time to rework the algorithm to compensate for new developments in Mideast relations if he's also going to graduate with honors, so he strips down his math until it can be reapplied to soybeans. Eduardo's still got his single, and his social life is mostly managed in four-hour chunks when he's out at AEPi events or bschool pub quizzes so it takes almost six months back at Harvard before he has to explain why he has almanac charts stuck all over like pin-up posters.
"What the fuck?" Chris asks, because they'd run into each other on campus and mutually decided through a series of hand and eye semaphore that they were just going to pretend all the awkward shit was already over.
"That's only really going to be relevant until I know if the farm bill falls through," Eduardo says, even though it's not really an answer that makes him look any less weird.
Chris makes a complicated face. "Are you...rooting for or against it?"
Eduardo shrugs. "It doesn't really matter, as long as I hedge correctly."
"There's something really wrong with you," Chris tells him, but then he pulls out his classwork and puts in his earbuds so the conversation is apparently over.
Senior year, Eduardo makes $457,098.36 on soybean futures, and after he pays the government its blood money he banks the rest of it in a mid-yield shares account at a private client bank until he can decide what to do with it. It lives with the leftovers from the $300K he made off oil futures and it's all pretty fucking abstract. It becomes a capital problem; he hates having cash just sit there while inflation depreciates it, but then there's final exams and his mae and pai roll up from Miami to look affectionately amused by all the WASPs melting in their dark suits.
"It's not even hot; these guys are a joke," his mother says in Portuguese, because being bilingual is mostly important for making fun of people in large crowds.
His father claps him on the shoulder. "That's good work on the soybeans," he says, and he must be fluent in Eduardo's nauseated anticipation, too, the way he's been waiting for his dad to say something about what a fuck-up he is, because his pai mutters, "And good work not letting past failures bog you down. That's the sign of a real man."
"See," his mother says, clawing at Eduardo's bangs like that's really going to fix them, "what a lovely day."
It's 100 degrees, three people have already fainted in their black robes, and Eduardo's so fucking hungover from last night's party he think's he's literally pissing Jameson.
"Yeah," he says. "It's a great day."
He ends up at Goldman, because when the asshole who interviews him says, "So let me break it down with you, Saverin: you got kicked out the door at Facebook. They didn't want you — why should we?" Eduardo grits his teeth and tells the truth.
"Because I learned my lesson. I was a stupid kid, and I thought I was doing business with friends," he says, because by now the hurt that used to be incapacitating is just a dull and constant ache — a war wound. "And because my previous trusting nature doesn't erase the fact that I identified and gave the start-up funding for a site that's changing the way everybody uses the internet."
Recruiter Douche grins at him. "Yeah? You're going to go with that?"
"Yeah, I am," Eduardo retorts. "Because I'm right, and because you know it: I knew what Facebook was when I was a snot-nosed kid and I helped make it happen. No amount of dilution is going to erase the reality, even if they change the masthead. And you should give me this job because nobody else you're going to see this year is going to have a story this good or a chip on their shoulder this big. I've got something to prove. You guys would be missing a prime opportunity if you didn't let me prove it with you."
That's how he ends up in the two-year analyst program making Excel spreadsheets until 3 a.m. on a first-name basis with the dude who takes delivery orders at the Thai place nearest to the office. Eduardo lives in a studio in Kips Bay and shares a ratty office with a nervy, unattractive girl who washed ashore from somewhere in Singapore, and they bond over the privileged immigrant experience and maintain a secret file to track the open sexual harassment she endures at the hands of their MD.
"One day, I swear to fucking God," Jin says, "I'm out of here. I'm so out of here."
Eduardo's punch drunk from pulling numbers for his eighth CDO squared roadshow of the month. The rate WaMu is vomiting this shit out makes Eduardo afraid to look at the risk numbers; he's been encouraged not to anyway.
"Where the fuck are you going to go?" Eduardo asks reasonably, because they're at Goldman. "What else are you going to do?"
"Not this," Jin says, tugging at her hair. "Something — fucking fun. I got into this because I like numbers, you know? Who the fuck cares about the money."
He starts laughing. "You're such a fucking liar. Everybody cares about the money."
"Only because it's how you keep track of who's winning," Jin grumbles, but she shuts down her desktop and staggers to her feet. "Okay. I'm going home. I'll see you in…"
Eduardo squints at the clock. "We have a 7:45 a.m. call with Tokyo."
"Too soon. I will see you too soon, then," Jin concludes peaceably, and waves as she leaves, teetering on perilous heels and casting a lingering shadow in the hall. This late, the office is mostly people under the age of thirty doing shit work to build up sufficient bitterness to pass some sort mandatory asshole threshold to eventually become an MD.
He hangs around another half hour just to triple check he's saved everything, do one last read-through of the decks, and then he sends them off to be savaged in the morning conference with Tokyo. It's the routine, really, that makes it extra fucking awful, and he's tossing around Jin's "I got into this because I like numbers, you know?" still when he gets into work the next morning feeling hyper-alert and suffering exhaustion-induced vertigo, double fisting ventis from Starbucks.
Eduardo's still thinking about it four hours later, when he finds himself walking down his tenth flight of stairs, listening to some bored dick from risk management instruct them PROCEED IN AN ORDERLY MANNER TO THEIR PRE-SET MEETING POINTS over the building-wide intercom. Like most of the other people in this fucking log flume of back office humanity, Eduardo has no clue where their pre-set meeting point is, so when Pete Garvey asks him — looking red-faced and extremely asthmatic — he says so.
"Oh, God," Pete says, clutching at his tie.
"It's no big deal, Pete," Eduardo promises, and herds Pete a little closer to the right hand side of the stairwell, because there's a flock of assholes from sales jogging down the floors. "They just want to make sure you're not going to be a line item on liability insurance in case of another terrorist attack."
"I already get enough shit from my MD, man," Pete huffs, stumbling a little by the time they hit the ninth floor, the sales flock's hoots of coked-up triumph floating up the stairwell like so much hot air.
Eduardo throws an arm over Pete's shoulder. "I thought the quants were nice."
"You are nice," Pete says, with absolute conviction. "Nobody else here is nice."
"Yeah, well, I've got a soft spot for nerds," Eduardo says, because Pete had been top five in his class at Wharton and doesn't know shit about Harvard or Facebook. Eduardo's only famous in certain circles. "Us matheletes have to stick together."
Pete glares at him, but he keeps walking. "There's no way you were a mathelete."
"Hey, I was team captain," Eduardo says, and gives Pete a shove. "Come on, champ, six flights left to go."
"Jesus," Pete gasps. "Leave me for the terrorists."
That's how it starts.
The quants work on the fourth floor — Chinese for death — which given that it's 2007 and revenue is a long-forgotten dream, feels extremely a lot like a signal from the universe.
Shitty results means Pete works longer and worse hours and starts eating a lot of halal street meat. Eduardo's feelings about eating animal products off of carts parked around Broad is ambivalent leaning toward negative anyway, but Jin — who doesn't eat, ever, but likes to smoke with one of the vendors — comes upstairs one day to say, "I think your weird math nerd friend needs a fucking intervention."
Eduardo doesn't know why he fucking does it except that he and Pete were in new employee orientation together, and Pete had been the only person who'd laughed at his joke about RSI, so he sighs and goes down to four.
It's weird to think that a shitty MD or fifty-six hours at the office is what's making Pete freak the fuck out — not because the shitty MD and the fifty-six hours aren't a big deal, but because Eduardo's so fucking sanguine about it. Intellectually, he knows this is misery multiplied, institutionalized hazing, that he's suffering, too, except almost anything outside of glossy offices in Palo Alto and the broken-glass memories of the Kirkland suite feel like the woozy bliss that comes in the absence of pain.
Pete doesn't have that, and Jesus, why should he, so Eduardo steals a janitor's sign and sticks it outside the men's room door on four. He sits on a closed toilet lid scrolling through Bash.org on his Blackberry's awful browser until Pete's labored breathing smooths out. When Pete walks out of the stall, he looks red-faced and broken open, and Eduardo spends ten minutes fixing his hair with laser focus and precision, not looking anywhere other than his own thin and tired face.
"Thanks," Pete croaks, later.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Eduardo declares. "I just wanted some peace and quiet to work on my coif."
Two weeks later, Eduardo gets inducted onto Pete's pub quiz team.
"Pub quiz team" is a really inadequate description of the math cult Eduardo joins.
Pete's team is ten people strong and part of a league that spiderwebs through most of the major financial services firms and universities in the greater New York area. When two dicks from Wachovia get into a flamewar, Bill Nye shuts it down. They have a hand-coded mailing list that someone maintains on the Columbia servers from a time before time norms had access to such software, and they rent out the second floor at the House of Brews every month to do just battle for math honor.
At first, Eduardo's aware that his invite is motivated by needless gratitude and pity, and Pete's team is chilly-verging-on-cold; just because you found a nice coworker doesn't mean that you want him to fuck your team's legacy, which Eduardo understands. By the end of round one, when he's blazed through the five differentials a full 25 seconds faster than cosmologist from NYU, there's genuine camaraderie in play.
By the single combat round, they are chanting his name while he's getting chalk all over his Thomas Pink shirt proving the Cantor set is uncountable while Sumeet Patel still has two thumbs up his MS-funded level two CFA ass.
"Okay, okay," says Sleeter, who's in-house accounting at Clifford Chance and looks it, "I call bullshit. Pete said you were an econ major."
"He was an econ major," Pete says mildly, but he's buzzed and happy.
"How the fuck does an econ major know set theory?" Sleeter asks reasonably.
Eduardo grins. "I like numbers, man."
"You — " Pete points at Eduardo's face " — are an entirely uncharted brand of nerd."
They've emigrated from House of Brews to Sake Bar Hagi on 7th and 49th, which was excellent both for the yakitori and the opportunity to watch drunk assholes falling down the stairs. Pete's team is plying Eduardo with hot sake and yellowtail collar and tontoro, and he lets himself forget his mental lists and his carefully tended scar tissue for an hour or two, dizzy on Utada Hikaru piped overhead and drunk the ambrosial sense that until he goes home later, he can play like he's doing okay, that there's no black mark in his service jacket. To these guys, to all the guys in this bar, he's just a number theory ringer and Eduardo thinks if he tries long and hard and digs deep enough, he could bury the corpus of his old failings entirely like this.
Eduardo goes to Miami for Hanukkah. He takes his mae shopping and lets her teach him how to cook the same three things for the fourth time; he watches black and white movies with his pai and talks about the credit crunch, how 2007's a fucking awful year.
"It'll be fine," his dad says, watching the CNBC ticker. "Worst case scenario, it's not like they're going to let Bear go under."
In March 2008 — which is turning out to be a much worse year than 2007 — Eduardo and Pete end up on the fifth floor watching Bear Stearns collapse in real time. The rumors are bugfuck: the New York Fed was originally going to cough up a $25 billion backstop; the New York Fed decided not to cough up a $25 billion loan; the JPMorgan deal is for $2 a share; the JPMorgan deal is for $10 a share.
"Riddle me this, Saverin," Pete asks, on his second bag of Sun Chips, because Wall Street is melting down around them and nobody cares about the sales deck Eduardo is supposed to be writing or the modeling Pete's supposed to be doing. "What's the difference between a cash crisis and a confidence crisis?"
Eduardo's been at work for like two days straight now. "Seriously, Pete?"
Pete shrugs. "It's just crazy. This whole thing went down so fast. It's all panic. Who even knows what the actual numbers looked like."
"It's the human element, Garvey," Eduardo says, smiling. "You can't remove that."
"It's dumb and it's wrong," Pete decides. "Everybody should trade on fundamentals."
"Yeah, okay," Eduardo laughs. "Sure: let's just run away and start a quant fund then."
Saverin has been trying to perfect being uncool since he was at least 18. Pete Garvey — co-founder and principle at Desenrascanço — says he heard from some guys who know a guy that Saverin used to wear suits to class when he was at Harvard.
"Eduardo keeps accidentally tripping into bleeding edge stuff," Garvey says with the generous affection of a man who is absolutely destroying Saverin's fantasy baseball team. "He keeps trying to run incredibly boring blue chip businesses, but leave him alone in any room full of smart people and I guarantee you, within an hour, every nerd with a cool idea has just decided he's their new best friend."
Desenrascanço's a jarring mix of bespoke suits and screenprinted hemp on any given day: the halls heaving with young guys tweaking their cufflinks, walking side by side with aging hippies in FUCK THE POLICE t-shirts. They're alternately discussing the in-house statistical software used for modeling equity purchases, high-frequency trading, and how to take a dump in zero gravity.
— Eduardo Saverin Is Making This Up as He Goes Along, Portfolio, December 2013
Everybody keeps saying it can't get any worse even as they explore new, interesting, and pants-shittingly-terrifying definitions of "worse." Everybody keeps their heads down and watches the death spiral on the crawling ticker, entire business lines collapsing into the red and redder, until the internal figures start looking like the accounting department has been slashing their wrists over the pages.
The FDIC seizes IndyMac in July and Eduardo thinks, "Oh, fuck," because at least two of the bread and butter loans that kept Facebook's lights on and Red Bull stocked at the beginning were written by IndyMac. Eduardo remembers the shitty carpet in one of the regional offices, drinking coffee out of styrofoam cups and filling in oceans of paperwork and freezing in his three-piece suit. He gets a letter from the bridge bank saying that Facebook's account — still administered by him — is safe and completely insured because it currently only has fucking $15 in it. By the end of the month, IndyMac's filing for liquidation, and Eduardo stays up all night drinking Sam Adams in his underwear in the dark, feeling something hollow in his chest fill up with a vast and breathless fear of the unknown — an echo of the way he felt at twenty: shit-scared and well-versed in all the theory and none of the practice. He's not twenty anymore, but it's the same thing all over again, knowing the textbook definitions and never seeing where anything lines up.
It's not an exaggeration to say that the weight of everything they've done is tearing down the system, that when Eduardo wakes up in the morning and stares at his beige ceiling in the beige box of his studio, he's doing it because he doesn't know whether he'll have a job that day or the next. It's horrible. It's weirdly liberating. Pete loses a chunk of hair.
And then, in September, Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy and WaMu is seized and shotgun married to JPMorgan. November is no longer the month of the blood as far as the financial services industry goes. Some asshole prints a SEPTEMBER 15 NEVER FORGET sign and tapes it up to the break room cork board.
It means the following:
(1) The Goldman quants desk is on unofficial lockdown because none of their existing mathematical models are designed for apocalyptic conditions;
(2) Eduardo literally has fuck all to do, since even his MD can't get hard about trying to package CDOs from WaMu as WaMu is being dissected by the FDIC.
They spend a lot of time at the bar.
"What's the fucking point, even?" Sumeet asks, peeling the label off of some fucking blueberry flavored beer they make in Brooklyn. Despite this, and despite his unfortunate affiliation with Morgan Stanley, he's actually a cool guy, which is why Eduardo always invites him to the bar. "Seriously, why am I even bothering to fucking show up?"
"Cheaper to hand you your pink slip than mailing it," Pete says, with the bitterness of someone who can't help but run the numbers, always. "This is what I was talking about, you know? Nobody ever fucking looked at the cash flows on this shit, and now look."
Sumeet huffs. "Yes, good. This is helpful."
"I'm just saying," Pete is just saying, urgent, "this is fucking Barbarians at the Gate BS."
It's worse than Barbarians at the Gate, but Eduardo just says, "I know, Pete."
"All right, I'll fucking bite," Sumeet says, waving for another beer. On TV, Meredith Whitney's on again. Eduardo's seen more of her than the inside of his apartment this month. "If it was us, right? If it was you, me, and Saverin, how would we do this?"
Eduardo puts rubs the heels of his hands into his eye sockets. "God, really?"
"Fundamentals-based," Pete declares, because he's only a shrinking violet when Decker, his ex-marine cock of an MD is standing over him shouting abuse. "I want some actual fucking numbers. I don't care how excited everybody is. I read The Fortunetellers."
Sumeet says, "Nobody actually read that fucking book."
"I read that book," Eduardo says.
"Because you're a fucking weirdo," Pete tells him, without missing a beat. "And I don't want to fudge numbers and lie to people for a living. I want to actually like our clients."
Eduardo takes away Pete's beer. "I'm cutting you off. You're clearly drunk."
"Why is that so fucking impossible?" Pete whines. "Why?"
"Pete," Sumeet says, sympathetic, and nods back at the television, where Chuck Schumer is sweating through his suit and flag pin like the American Banking Association has actually lit his ass on fire. "The world is falling apart — right now is not when we want to go around being fucking entrepreneurial."
Eduardo's always been careful, really cautious. He was a dumb kid like every dumb kid but his dad had ground it into him, with fucking 6 a.m. inquisitions and 10 p.m. screaming fights: did you do this? did you do it right? are you sure? you should be more grateful, son. If you're not paying attention, you're going to miss something, you're going to ruin your life. So he grit his teeth and made lists and got as many states between himself and his pai as possible, because his father's love is the kind you endure from a great distance. He got his reading done on time and good grades, gave money to the cheerful homeless guy that set up camp between his dorm and his first lecture of the day, and he made all the friends he could. He'd given Mark $1,000 because Mark was his friend and a genius and Eduardo had trusted him the way you trust in the constancy of best friends in the endless summers between grades in elementary school.
And he'd done the right thing, the prudent thing his whole fucking life, and it had been wrong and reckless all at the same time. He made smart calls that were stupid in someone else's frame of reference, and when he's brutally honest with himself, it's like seeing a stereoscopic image: two frozen realities that shift when he tilts. So yeah, what-the-fuck ever. Maybe there's no objective truth or wrong or right, and he's drunker, actually, than Pete is, and that's going to be Eduardo's excuse ad infinitum for why he says:
"Why not? If we flame out, at least we can blame the crisis."
Just after, when everything had been unbearably tender, Eduardo had thought about suing. He called a bunch of lawyers — he had lists of names — and avoided his phone when the caller ID showed his mae and he sat around aching and trying to decide if he felt more anger or more humiliation. They usually came out neck and neck. Drinking a lot didn't actually help, since it just seemed to leave him vulnerable to self-pity, which at its worst mutated into debilitating hurt. It's moronic, Eduardo knows this even now, that more than he'll ever be angry about Facebook and Mark, he'll be hurt. It follows him to bed and wakes him up sometimes at night — gnawing at his gut — and sometimes it makes him so crazy he calls his pai just so his father can lecture him about commodity futures or buying fucking kidnapping insurance to drown it out. It's awful. It's so pervasive, and Eduardo remembers sitting in his dorm at Harvard thinking about how if he sues, he can't put this away, can't close up the wound. He'll just have to open it it for inspection every day, maybe for years, that there'll be an official record of his mortifying acts of naiveté and how much Mark doesn't give a shit — never gave shit about anything other than proving to everybody how smart he was, and Eduardo was just another lever to push, the Monopoly bank. So maybe it was an act of cowardice not to make good on his threat, but when Eduardo weighs the cost of letting this go versus whatever hollow win and impatience he's going to get from Mark if he goes forward, he thinks, it's not worth it. So he'd said thanks but no thanks to the lawyers and he'd ordered the new Farmer's Almanac on Amazon instead. Mark's just an ugly watermark Eduardo probably won't ever shake. He'll live as that pang in the sternum, that shock of vertigo at a sudden memory, but Eduardo's not going to let anybody own him that way again. It wasn't worth it. It'll never be worth it.
Eduardo's only been sending sketchy operational plans back and forth with Pete and Sumeet for a week — mostly it's swearing and extensive discussion of the fund name, which everyone agrees should be a horrible inside joke — when Jin corners him on a Starbucks run and says, "I want in."
How she even fucking knows about this whole thing is worrying, but it's only a mystery until Eduardo sees how Pete goes all soft around the edges when Jin shows up at their next unofficial planning meeting, better described as getting drunk after work and watching some more banks fail in real time on CNBC. It's Friday so there're a couple, obviously, and Jin makes them take fucking shots for every $5 billion in assets taken into receivership because she's a monster.
Every idea like this starts scared, on tiptoes, insinuating itself into the room. Nobody wants to say, "yes, yes," because that's when all of it starts getting harder and faster and complicated, but Eduardo's done harder and faster and complicated. He's done crashing failure and crushing humiliation, and he's still here, watching Jin bully Pete into drinking tequila with a fucking worm in the bottom of the bottle — he's fine.
"Fuck it," he says, and does another shot. "Let's do this. Let's really do this."
"Shit," Sumeet says, overlapping Pete's, "We're going to need official letterhead."
Jin pulls out a Moleskin. "Fuck your letterhead," she says. "We need seed money."
Between their saved-up bonuses and couch cushions, they have some money, but prevailing opinion is an argument on whether start-up funds need at least $10 million or at least $100 million. Eduardo spends five minutes wondering what would happen if he messaged Peter Thiel to lay the guilt trip on him about Facebook and then he spends the next five minutes refusing to tell Jin why he's laughing like a moron.
Pete is a boot-strapper, and his family legacy is a suburban house in Ohio so it's not like his folks have any money to dump into their proposition. He wouldn't feel comfortable asking, anyway, so he's off the table. Sumeet turns out to be dating an apartment broker, and as soon as she says, "Sure, I'm in," and gives him a horrifying check, it just turns into a no-holds-barred bitchfest about Manhattan rentals because seriously what the fuck? Jin's parents, who have a villa in Singapore and a penthouse in Hong Kong, are of course the type of doting parents who are thrilled at their daughter's work ethic and will reward it with a cool $1 million.
"Don't punk out on me, Saverin," she tells him, and eyes the phone.
Eduardo knows that if he calls, his dad would probably be gruffly proud and toss him a couple mill, which is horrible in and of itself. But he's been self-sustaining since his first year at Harvard and he takes neurotic pride in that, so he says, "Hold up, lemme think about this for a while," instead of calling Miami.
That night he pulls out his records, his contracts, and when he looks at the numbers, 0.03 percent, he doesn't see thirty pieces of silver so much any more. He just sees 0.03 percent, which Eduardo figures is real personal growth. It's an absolute slap in the face, and he doesn't know why he's holding onto it.
"Hey," he says, when he calls one of his old Phoenix people. Ted moved out to San Mateo right after college and started a VC with middling success. He's not going to want it, personally, but he might know some people. "I need to ask you something, off the record, sealed for the moment — do you have five minutes?"
"It's fucking 9 a.m. and I'm the only person at work," Ted tells him. "Say whatever."
"California," Eduardo says with affectionate disgust. "So, do you know anybody who might want like a nothing slice of Facebook?"
The conversation's not as weird or painful as Eduardo had been prepared for, which he guesses is another indicator he's metabolized the poison Mark left in his system or something, and by the time he gets off the phone he feels good — really good.
The night before they're all due to give their official two weeks' notice, they sit in Eduardo's studio drinking Malbec because Jin says that's the new thing, toasting Eduardo's ability to pull $2 million out of his ass on short notice.
"Seriously, how the fuck did you manage that?" Sumeet says. "Don't say the weather."
"If it was the weather, I'm going to kill you," Pete says seriously, because everybody apparently has strong feelings about Eduardo's relationship with the weather.
"It wasn't the weather," Eduardo says, grinning, because it's fall in New York and they don't have a name or any letterhead but they're actually going to do this and it feels fucking amazing. "Just some guys who didn't read The Fortunetellers, either."
Sumeet and Jin have an argument about overhead that spills halfway into winter, at which point they don't remember who wanted to get office space and who was happy just working out of Pete's apartment near Grand Central anymore because they've been working out of Jin's loft for a month already.
November had slipped in and out of the city's ribs like a knife; Eduardo barely remembers any of it other than the election and staying up all night in a gay(ish) bar in the Meatpacking district getting shitfaced and feeling uncomplicated joy for something. December comes in with an attitude, leaving everybody huffing bitter-white cloud plumes, and Eduardo thinks about that first miserable fucking winter in Cambridge, the ha-ha-ha-not-funny-mae phone calls with his mother asking her to mail him a God damn coat because Eduardo's nature-nurture on temperatures is a combination of Brazil and Miami. Fuck Massachusetts. Also, Bernie Madoff happens, so that's great.
"Eduardo, I don't think you can do any worse than him," his pai says, when he's in town for business and shifts $2 million into their fund, because of course that is what you do when you find out all your New York friends and charities just got ripped off. "If you make more than 4 percent return in the next year, I'm going to start using you as a shares account."
"That's not funny," Eduardo says, because oh my God. There's money and then there's his parents' money.
His dad smiles. "You really don't know how to take a compliment," he says in Portuguese, clasps Eduardo on the shoulder, and says his goodbyes.
He skips the trip home for Hanukkah that year, which AT&T probably hates, because it means he spends about a billion free in-network minutes apologizing to every Brazilian Jew in the greater Miami area because they are all related to him — by marriage, by cousins, by maternal guilt, whatever. But he does it all from Jin's couch, closing out their short positions and watching Jin and Pete mutually pine for one another without any awareness of the other party's adolescent longing.
Eduardo and Sumeet send each other a lot of emails trying to goad the other person into forcing some sort of Pete-and-Jin disclosure, but mostly they one-up each other on who is least emotionally equipped to talk about relationships. Sumeet's girlfriend refuses to publicly acknowledge herself as Sumeet's girlfriend because their parents had met on some kind of Indian matchmaking website and now want them to get married and she doesn't want to feel cordoned in by the patriarchy. In the face of this, Eduardo's entire thing with Mark feels a little lame.
January is awful. Inauguration alone wipes two percentage points off of their fund-to-date returns. Pete gives up on wearing nice clothes and backslides into the guy Eduardo imagines he was in undergrad at Wharton: wearing fraying jeans, Vans, and a Wolfenstein 3D t-shirt. The day he rolls up to Jin's house with a four-pack of Red Bull, Eduardo goes to work in the Starbucks downstairs until he stops freaking out. By the time he comes back an hour later, Sumeet and Jin are googling "weird German with no English translation."
"We have to rename ourselves," Jin argues. "Especially because you keep spelling our own fucking name wrong."
"PGESSPJT doesn't really lend itself to easy memory," Eduardo says stiffly, because okay, fine, you fill out one fucking document wrong at 3 a.m. and your asshole coworkers never let you forget it.
Sumeet narrows his eyes. "That was also wrong just now."
"What, really?" Pete asks. "I just sent the CFTC an e-mail with — "
"Oh," Jin interrupts, faint, "my God."
So that consumes them until March, by which time they've made back a percentage point of their January losses on a series of incomprehensible eastern Europe currency trades that leave Pete and Sumeet in deep conversation with some randoms from the mathelete league. It leaves Jin — who hates forex with suspicious depth and constancy — hissing and squirreled away in a corner, sullenly plucking at mining stocks.
Also in March, Eduardo accidentally renames them something just as incomprehensible as before when he has to call the CFTC to explain why their co-founder can't spell.
"Desenrascanço is not better. It may in fact be the opposite of better," Jin says.
"You said, and I quote, 'Name it what the fuck ever,'" Eduardo recites back at her.
They're sitting in Bourgeois Pig at 8 p.m., and the bar is heaving with the kind of assholes who go to Bourgeois Pig. It's searing red and boiling hot, and Eduardo's loosened his tie and rolled up his shirtsleeves. He feels very young, and comfortable in his skin in a way he hasn't been since Harvard, where he'd understood the perimeters of himself. If he hasn't been an open wound in a long time, then maybe he's only now gotten used to the shape of his scar tissue.
"I thought you'd pick something boring and horrible, like Granite Trust or some shit," Jin says, narrowing her eyes at him before asking, "Did you name it that for deep, meaningful reasons that have to do with why you're achingly hot but so fucked up you never date?"
"No," Eduardo lies.
"Whatever," Jin allows with vast sympathy, tries her drink, and then turns to yell at the bartender, "Hey, Skillrex! Sidecar! I asked for a sidecar."
Ask any experienced fundie and they will tell you the key to success is having a clear investment strategy. If you check their websites, there will always be a page where it's elegantly obfuscated, because the other thing any experienced fundie will tell you is that if you find a successful investment strategy, you keep it to yourself.
Desenrascaço began with every intention of being a quantitative fund — think algorithms — with a deep fondness for the so-called corporate fundamentals. Garvey wanted nothing to do with the witchcraft of stock picking, and Saverin had made his first (smaller) fortune still at college on the mysticism of meteorological modeling.
"So we began with a really traditional approach," Jin Tan, 33, explains. Her desk is a paperless oasis: just a sleek laptop, a cactus, and a photograph of Garvey and their daughter, Sarah. "We went for undervalued stocks that moved on emerging markets — so we're talking mining companies and shipping companies and steelmakers, people putting together the infrastructure for Asia and Africa." She pauses. "We also shorted fucking everything."
The fund's first two years produced modest returns, which were still surprising since Saverin and the other co-founders started the business in the depths of 2008, watching the banks dive frenetically off a cliff and global equity valuations erode with shocking speed. They pulled in a few other friends-of-friends investors and bought themselves a Bloomberg terminal as a "sad, nerd birthday present," Tan says.
"We probably would have grown little, and grown slow and organic if we'd stuck to that," she says, laughing. "We were doing okay — I think we even got salary money by middle of 2009."
And then Garvey and Saverin got drunk at CES 2010.
— Eduardo Saverin Is Making This Up as He Goes Along, Portfolio, December 2013
The only reason they're even at CES is because Pete made up some series of convincing lies that Jin bought because she has a stupid soft spot for him. So even though Eduardo relies on her to make good decisions based on a thorough cost-benefit analysis, he ends up babysitting Pete in Las Vegas because Eduardo had lost the coin toss with Sumeet. Pete's probably not going to do anything like cry on Steve Ballmer, but there's always the possibility that Pete will do something like cry on Steve Ballmer, and that's really not the kind of Barron's write-up they want.
They do, actually, have a few extremely productive discussions with VC guys, who have money and nowhere to put it, since a lot of smaller tech firms have unsurprisingly flamed out in this environment. Beyond which, they have private assets that need tending, too, and Eduardo spends a lot of time in hotel bars and standing around the CES floor wearing a fuckload of plastic passes talking about probable rates of return and getting weird looks from the booth babes.
He's actually pretty drunk for most of it.
As Facebook gets more successful, more people write about it, and the smarter the people are who do. The week before CES, someone actually dug up Eduardo's first Facebook ad deck, the one he'd stupidly toted around to investors in New York while Sean and Mark had been planning his death sentence in Palo Alto. Who the hell even kept that thing? It's not like he'd made a PDF and distributed it in 2004. It's available in slideshow format all over the fucking internet right now, which is awesome, and Eduardo's strong desire to lock himself in his hotel bathroom for the duration of the convention is mitigated only by years of training being emotionally abusive to himself and Pete's constancy in bringing him booze.
Pete, despite his crocs and Linux t-shirt, is a good man.
So yeah, the floor is covered in that stupid fucking F, everywhere Eduardo goes, so it just seems like a good idea to always have a drink in hand, too. It makes him looser, a little woozy, and he ends up telling people shit he wouldn't under normal circumstances: about the chicken, about his love of meteorology, about how he feels only cool, righteous disapproval for the way his and Pete's team had been defeated in the overall tourney in the math rumble. They'd at least lost with honor, unlike some assholes who brought in ringers from the Caltech math department.
Eduardo gets a lot of phone numbers, mostly from nerd rich guys who made their money in Silicon Valley and don't know what to do with it in New York, but also from a handful of randy attendees and shady older guy who looks like Gary Oldman. He goes with Pete to play with the Pre Pluses, because hope springs eternal Palm will get its shit together; they try out the HP Slates. One of the booth babes turns out to be a whip-smart CS major from Carnegie Mellon with the inexplicable hots for Pete, and Eduardo goes to the hotel bar to fulfill his sacred friend obligation of ceding the room to the person actually getting laid.
He's challenging his own highest score on Fruit Ninja, halfway through his second dirty martini when someone says, "Um, are you Eduardo Saverin?" over his shoulder.
This is how Eduardo meets Glenn Carey. Glenn's twenty-two, which looks even younger now than Eduardo remembers feeling when he actually was twenty-two, and he has that wild-eyed look almost everybody does by the third day of CES.
"Fred said you were here," Glenn says, and it takes him two tries to perch on one of the bar stools successfully.
Eduardo has no clue who Fred is. He's talked to roughly 600 people today, so he just says, "Okay, sure," and asks, "Any particular reason you were looking for me, Glenn?"
Glenn turns bright red and stutters for half a beat before muttering, "fuck it," and fumbling his iPhone out of his pocket, saying, "I — I need help with something."
Something turns out to be an app called Seconds. The way Glenn explains it, participating restaurants sign up, and Seconds users can upload food photos to match a menu — "It gets rid of foodie photo shame," Glenn says, like this is a serious condition that should be in the next DSM — and crowdsource the ingredients. Reviews are allowed but not necessarily the point; the ultimate goal is to badge in at Benu and Marlowe and French Laundry and make everybody salivate jealously with your photos. There're built-in buttons for making reservations, and Glenn talks about incorporating vouchers and discounts and gift certificates on the photo pages, so that when you are looking at a perfectly rare steak at your hungriest moment of the day, Seconds will be there to help kneecap your self-control and book you a table for a meal you probably shouldn't afford.
"It's really about food porn," Glenn says. "And the triumph of eating certain places."
Eduardo arches an eyebrow. "Triumph?"
"It doesn't really make sense to normal people," Glenn admits. "But it's really cool."
"This sounds great and all, but I'm not really sure what you want from me," Eduardo says, because he is on his third dirty martini now, and believes in cutting to the chase.
Glenn goes from red to chalk white. "Uh. So, we have a meeting with some VC guys. Like, day after tomorrow."
Eduardo stares. "And?"
"And we...don't have anything," Glenn says, and the rest of it comes out of him in a rush: "We don't have a business plan or a long-term proposal and we have all these cool ideas but Jesus Christ like, I taught myself to code in my underpants and Julia — that's my partner, she's the food fanatic — like, is a lab manager and runs a food blog."
Glenn looks just sweaty and miserable enough that Eduardo feels bad for still not really understanding where he comes in.
"I just — Fred said you were really nice, and that you might be able to help us prepare some stuff. Like business plans or…" Glenn trails off. "Whatever?"
Eduardo blinks at him a few times, wondering seriously, who the hell is Fred? He says, finally, "Glenn, you guys really need a consultant for this."
"Couldn't you be our consultant?" Glenn asks.
"I run a hedge fund," Eduardo explains.
"But you — you were the first guy who invested in Facebook, weren't you?" Glenn says, stumbling over the words in his rush. "You thought it was a good idea and gave Mark Zuckerberg the cash, right? Fred said you did all the initial paperwork."
Eduardo covers his face with his hands. "Oh, my God."
"We don't have any money right now," Glenn pushes on, urgent. "But we could, and I talked to Julia, and thought you could have some percentage of whatever the VC would be willing to give us — which will be like, zero, if we go in there with our shitty powerpoint and no expansion plan."
Eduardo should say "no," because this is beyond small change compared to the mountain of work he has waiting upstairs once Pete's done with his hook up. They're almost at $10 million AUM and if they reinvest the profits after costs this quarter they should just be over the line. He has a new algorithm to tweak and tests to run involving corn futures, and Sumeet emailed to say he had a cool lead on some potential office space, so they could give Jin back her apartment full time.
"Please, please," Glenn's saying, huge-eyed and clutching his iPhone so hard it looks like it might crack. "I know it's crazy short notice, but we really need the help."
There is literally no reason for him to take this on other than the fact that Glenn has a great idea and is shit-scared, and Eduardo knows in that annoying way he knows these things that Glenn and Julia could get horribly fucked over without anyone to look out for their interests. Eduardo's been Glenn and Julia.
"Fuck," Eduardo says. "Fine."
He texts Pete, Someone is hiring me to do some fucking app consulting, I guess. Going to their room. See you in morning.
I couldn't fuck her and she threw her breastplate at me and left, Pete texts back less than a minute later. I think I'm in love with Jin.
"Jesus Christ," Eduardo mutters at his phone, and glances back up at Glenn. "Do you mind if I call my colleague in on this?"
"We need all the help we can get," Glenn says earnestly.
Eduardo and Pete pull back to back all-nighters with Glenn and Julia on their app, Pete running them through the financials time and again until the minute the venture capitalists arrive at the breakfast meeting at 9 a.m. at the hotel cafe.
"Breathe," Eduardo coaches, grinning. "Relax, okay? We did everything we needed to. You have a good app. You have a good plan. They'd be idiots not to see that."
"Yes, okay, right," Julia says, all Midwestern stiff upper lip. "Thank you. Yes."
"I think I'm going to puke," Glenn whimpers.
"Suck it back in," Julia counsels, loops an arm through his, and drags him into the cafe.
Julia and Glenn insist on Desenrascanço taking some money, but Eduardo at least convinces them to give him a tiny amount on fees and make up for the rest in an investment stake of 5 percent in exchange for continued consulting services. Their basic approach toward all things on the business end appears to be lavish gratitude instead of careful consideration, and Eduardo spends a lot of time testing his corn models while reading through contracts with Julia and Glenn on Skype.
"I would give you shit about taking on consulting gigs for minor ducats, but you look so God damn happy I can't bear to do it," Sumeet says to him that spring, when the flowers planted on the Park Avenue greenway are unfurling and the last knife slivers of cold are leeching out of the air, melting into the promise of summer heat — the tentative green of Central Park budding with new leaves.
"How about I agree not to give you shit for becoming a Seconds power user overnight and you don't give me shit for helping them mastermind expansion to Chicago and Austin and Atlanta?" Eduardo offers.
Sumeet says, "Deal," before perching on one of the visitors chairs in Eduardo's office and adding, "But actually I came to tell you that Jin just asked Pete on a date, so we need to go clear out his apartment before she figures out what a fucking freak he is."
Seconds goes live in Chicago while Eduardo and Sumeet are trying to de-yellow fever Pete's apartment, which is hard because he has a fucking katana mounted over his fireplace. They have to strike a balance between dishonesty — Pete genuinely does have a lot of feelings about Evangelion, and it would be wrong to force him to lie about that in perpetuity — and seeding discord in the relationship this early on. So the Saikano manga volumes can stay, but they have to have a ritual eBay listing of Pete's lady plus octopus smut woodblock prints.
"Why the hell do you even own this shit?" Sumeet asks, gaming the auction by bidding it up like an asshole. Once an MS douche, always an MS douche, Eduardo thinks.
"It's avante garde," Pete tries.
"No," Eduardo disagrees, and adds it to a pile of things to disappear, which includes the katana (also bound for eBay), three hentai DVDs Sumeet had somehow zeroed in on in the linen cabinet, two Korean dolls, and a series of 1930s cigarette ad posters featuring women in cheongsams against the Bund in Shanghai.
Sumeet chooses this moment to yell, "Fuck yeah! Octopus fucking for $100!" and turning around to point at Pete, saying, "You better remember this solid when you're funding your first date with your Eduardo and Sumeet-sponsored winnings, brother."
They cross the $15 million AUM mark and do some other exciting stuff in 2010 , but it's really the year of Pete and Jin dating. Eduardo doesn't want to know anything about it except that they're okay, that they're not cutting their teeth on each other. He worries, low-level but constant, and he thinks all it's really accomplishing is making Jin and Sumeet and Pete come up with ever more tragic personal histories for him.
"Are you ever going to date again? At all?" Jin asks one night. It's just past midnight and she and Eduardo are camped on their laptops in the tiny lobby of Desenrascanço's offices in SoHo. They're sharing a building with a ton of bloggers and a few upstart designers, and the entire brick and high-ceiling structure hums with under-35 energy.
Eduardo glares at the eBay page, at the ticker counting down. "I'm fine."
"You're a monk," Jin complains. "If you were happy being single I'd leave you alone."
"How do you know I'm not happy?" he asks reasonably, because in the past year he's moved to a big apartment in Prospect Heights near the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, joined an online book club, leveled up on his trashtalking at math rumbles. By almost every available metric, he is doing okay.
"Because you've completely erased your personal history," Jin retorts. "You don't have a life before college graduation, and you're sitting here on a Thursday night at 12:06 a.m. eBay sniping a katana with me."
"Okay, you asked me to help you with this," Eduardo says because the other part was true and what the hell could he say to that? I'm doing okay now, honestly, but I can't talk about that stuff because that version of me is still really fucking messed up?
"Yes, but think about how sad it was your response was, 'sure, I'm free whenever,'" Jin says, more gently, and then they both get distracted because the auction ticks down through its last seconds.
Eduardo ends up winning her the fucking katana, for which Jin owes him a staggering $678.34 plus postage, but when she gives it to Pete for their six month anniversary he bursts out with a spontaneous proposal of marriage, so it's worth it in the end.
A week after the engagement, they hold a formal engagement dinner. Eduardo's half an hour late because there was a homeless guy masturbating enthusiastically in his train compartment, and when everybody in their car had bailed and moved one carriage down, he'd been left standing on the platform like a moron because he'd let a woman with a stroller on before him and then the doors had slammed shut in his face.
"Fuck," he says to the back end of the 6 train as it hauls ass away from Union Square.
"Un-fucking-believable," says someone else. "Only in this shithole of a city."
Someone else turns out to be a guy named Danny, who'd allowed an old lady to pass him and was similarly shut out. There is no explanation for why Eduardo ends up taking Danny to Pete and Jin's engagement dinner at Le Cirque.
Danny is a physical therapist at Lennox Hill and describes his job as verbally abusing amputees and disabled children until they are more motivated to run away from him. He has gray eyes, brown hair, and he's only average-looking, objectively, but he's at least an inch taller and twice as broad as Eduardo, who can't stop smiling when Danny talks.
"So is this the worst first date of all time or what, so far?" Anjali, Sumeet's girlfriend-not-girlfriend-situation-still-too-dangerous-to-ask, asks.
Danny slants Eduardo a smile, and his blush is visible even in the candlelight, in the masking shadows. "Oh, it's going okay so far. Extra points for spontaneity."
"It probably helps he's a super hot Brazilian guy," Pete says loyally.
"Oh my God," Eduardo mutters. He should have let those sales guys at Goldman run Pete over on the stairs.
Then Jin says, "It's true. He is. He's also really nice."
"He is an absolute sucker he is so nice," Sumeet chimes in, because he's a dick, and before Eduardo can expire from mortification right there at the table, Anjali jumps back in with a lot of questions about Danny's family, his friends, whether he does recreational drugs and if so how often?
The rest of the night goes pretty much in that vein, but by dessert Eduardo's face hurts from laughing. Danny keeps collapsing in giggles, leaning into his shoulder, and across the table Jin and Pete are crying, muffling guffaws, and Eduardo barely remembers what was so funny except that everything is — that tonight, right here, he's perfectly happy in a way he hadn't even known he could be anymore.
Equities come roaring back in 2011, and Jin's heavy-handed investment in emerging-market infrastructure pays in more than just dividends. They leapfrog AUM targets, and word's gotten out in the groundwater: if you're young, hip, and have a fuckload of money, you should park it with Desenrascanço. They hire a half dozen kids so fresh off the Deutsche Bank and Goldman prop desks they still smell like their two-year programs and five guys to run the back office, including Sleeter, who's been bugging Sumeet to make enough money to get him out of Clifford Chance for like a year already. Eduardo then unleashes Pete at a TechCrunch event to find them some fucking programmers, mostly so Pete will shut up complaining about the commercial quant software that's been inflicted on him and they can write some of their own in-house stuff. All of this leads up to the Great Apocalyptic Real Estate Jesus Christ Incident, where Jin and Sumeet shed blood and treasure over two commercial properties that Eduardo and Pete agree are basically indistinguishable.
It takes until June, but they manage to get their shit mostly together and moved into their new digs, which means Eduardo has an even bigger office, with enough room for the plants that Danny keeps buying him. There's a sprawling, tender-fingered jade plant that basks in the window and a handful of cactuses in tiny pots and a Japanese maple bonzai that Eduardo lets grow absolutely wild. And because Jin and Pete and Sumeet are all fucking book hoarders, their collections spill out of their own shelves onto Eduardo's: their old finance texts and novels of conventional wisdom, multiple copies of Michael Lewis and four editions of The Smartest Guys in the Room.
It's some sort of metaphor for how Eduardo's carefully tended minimalism is invaded, inch by inch, but he's suddenly too busy to think about it, to worry about it, to dissect it into little pieces the way he's used to. There're meetings to schedule and clients to woo and investment updates to plan and write and distribute. And in between all of those — which Eduardo is ceding more and more to Sumeet and Pete — the fund appears to have accidentally sprouted a consulting arm.
Eduardo blames this entirely on Glenn and Julia, because instead of being grateful that Seconds had blown up and been touted by all and sundry as the great new foodie app, they'd been cruel and told the New York Times' Dealbook blog about Eduardo Saverin and the great CES 2010 Hail Mary.
Two weeks into Eduardo's death by email overflow, Jin leans into his office and says:
"I'm getting you an assistant, I don't care how much it costs us."
Eduardo says, "Okay."
"Also," Jin goes on, "You need to learn how to say no to people. This is getting stupid."
"It's really not that bad," Eduardo says. "I'm sure it'll die down."
Two hours after that, Glenn and Julia email to say that Google wants to buy Seconds for $7 million, which is nice, if for no other reason than Eduardo doesn't have to feel guilty about the cost of an assistant anymore. Then Glenn and Julia say they have a few other referrals for Eduardo, which is less nice considering his schedule and also how they get un-invited to Pete and Jin's wedding.
They show up anyway, because it's a summer ceremony in Martha's Vineyard and Jin's family has rented a vast beach house for the event. It's a mess of languages and people, and Pete has a constant expression of fear that abates only when he catches Jin's eyes across a room. It's lovely; it's genuinely lovely, and Eduardo doesn't have any other words for it, so he fumbles the sentiment drunkenly when Danny asks him — soft, whispered into the shell of his ear — "Hey, what are you thinking?" But Eduardo means it, every awkward syllable of it, because it is lovely to see them so happy, and he feels something opening like petals in his chest, expanding where there's no space. It aches but it does so wonderfully, and Eduardo sighs lingeringly and closes his eyes, presses his face into Danny's shoulder and breathes in the sea-salt air long after dark.
Jin's the only one who manages not to cry during the ceremony, but she's a little wet-eyed the entire time after, when everybody has decamped to the beach and the tent set up there — wreathed in by candles and fairylights — and are dancing barefoot in the sand, twirling in the boozy music and shrieking laughing. Eduardo's undone his tie and rolled up his slacks and he's down to a dove gray waistcoat. He dances with Jin and Anjali and Pete, too, before Danny says, "Right, I've endured this long enough," and collects him with playful jealousy, knitting Eduardo in close to his broad chest with his big arms, grinning with a rakish slant.
"You look happy," Eduardo observes, peering into Danny's smiling face, his eyes crinkled at the edges.
"You're happy," Danny says, non-sequitur.
Eduardo blinks enough times to telegraph confusion, enough times for the band to change over from sweeping ballads to something happy, rollicking, with a piano backing track and whistling and a duet of singers at the microphone.
"I'm happy because you're happy," Danny explains, whispers it close, sliding a hand up the s-curve of Eduardo's spine, until his fingers are fanned out between Eduardo's shoulder blades. "You should always be this happy."
Eduardo thinks, I want to believe that the way you do, and he keeps himself from saying it out loud by pressing it into Danny's mouth with his own. It's been a long time, but he's digging out from a lot of stuff. Sumeet, on the day of the Asian fetish clear-out, had drunkenly made Eduardo promise to be more forgiving of himself. Eduardo thinks he is these days, that he worries less and takes his hurts a little less seriously, and when he sees Pete and Jin off for their honeymoon the next morning, it's with a hug and a gag gift to pair his actual wedding present.
"Oh my Jesus God," Jin declares, gawping down at the elaborate frame.
"That is amazing," Pete agrees, grinning down at their new share of Facebook.
"I thought you'd get a kick out of it," Eduardo laughs, because it hadn't hurt to sign it over or look it up, and that had been a tiny miracle in and of itself. He has exactly six shares left, and Eduardo doesn't feel sick or sad about it; he's thinking about what six other people need single, hilarious shares of Mark's website. "People keep telling me that shit's going to be big one day."
Jin hangs it in their conference room when she gets back from the honeymoon. Pete adds a framed logo of Seconds next to it, and then it just snowballs into a thing.
Eduardo and Danny split amicably in September, because Danny's decided to go to med school and will be jetting off to Michigan in a few months. By mutual agreement, they decide they like each other too much to stop living out of each other's pockets while they still have the chance, so even though Danny's technically no longer Eduardo's boyfriend, he's still the one jabbing Eduardo awake at 6 a.m. on a Saturday to answer his fucking phone.
"What happened?" Eduardo asks, automatic, when he manages to get the mobile up to ear, because Geronimo! just left beta and Eduardo's been dreading the inevitable disaster since he agreed to let Pete name their new in-house software.
There's a short silence on the line before Chris Hughes says, "Uh. Hi. It's Chris."
Eduardo opens his eyes. It's pouring outside and the bedroom window is open. "Oh," he says stupidly, and after a beat, manages, "Oh, jeez. Hi. Chris."
"Look," Chris says, sounding tired. "I know this is out of the blue, but the hotel I'm supposed to be staying in double booked me, and it's some comic convention this weekend, so there's not an open room anywhere in New York — can I sleep on your couch? I refuse to squat in JFK."
It's probably a sign they've hired too many programmers that Eduardo's knee-jerk response to that is, "Oh, yeah, it's Comicon"
Chris doesn't get to Eduardo's apartment until after 9 a.m., and when he gets to the door he has this weird, hunted look on his face. If anything, he's even paler and blonder than he'd been at Harvard, with a touch of icy fragility from travel. Danny, because he's a good person, takes Chris's bag and ushers him inside, asking, "Did the taxi refuse to go to Brooklyn?" because they always do.
"I had to threaten him with an executive order," Chris says before blinking three times to re-orient himself and asking Danny, "And who are you?"
"So, introductions: Danny, this is Chris Hughes. He was one of my friends in college and currently works for the Obama administration," Eduardo says, waving to Chris, who's still dripping a little onto the kitchen floor tiles. "And Chris, this is Danny Archer. He's a a physical therapist at Lennox Hill."
"I'm Eduardo's ex-boyfriend. I can't believe you guys just forgot about the hotel situation with Comicon in town," Danny adds brightly. "Do you want some coffee?"
Chris stares at both of them for a beat before saying, "Yes. Okay. Yes, I want coffee."
Sadly for Chris, everything probably stays weird even after the coffee.
Eduardo tries to offer breakfast, but realizes that he never got around to picking up groceries so everybody has to trek out into the precipitation again, and by the time they spill into the doorway at Tom's diner, they're soggy and giggly. It's warm orange, the floors messy from the rain, and Chris grins up at the American flag hanging over the counter. Danny has a pretty embarrassing crush on Barack Obama, which Chris indulges with inside baseball campaign stories between cups and cups of black coffee and massive omelets, the small mountain of home fries Eduardo always puts away.
"So how did you guys meet?" Chris asks, and pauses, awkward, for a beat before adding, "I mean, if that's okay to ask?"
"It's fine, it's not like a horrible break up or anything," Danny says, and steals the rest of Eduardo's bacon. "And we met because we were swearing at new mothers and the infirm together in a subway station."
Chris's expression is a picture.
"The longer version of story makes that less horrible than it sounds, but also involves a homeless guy rubbing one out on the 6 train," Eduardo councils, and waves for more coffee. "Then I dragged him to my friends' engagement dinner for God knows what reason."
Danny stares at Chris seriously. "It's my animal magnetism."
"Yes, I see that," Chris says, but his mouth is twitching, a smile breaking through.
Chris is great. He's dating someone named Sean — Eduardo can't help the reflexive face he makes until Chris promises, "Not Parker." — and doing something obscure and exciting with social networking and politics. Considering Eduardo still doesn't know how to change his relationship status on the Facebook page Mark made him in college, he just nods earnestly along.
Chris is in town to help set up a bigger satellite office to prep for the last run-up to the 2012 elections, and he's halfway through swearing at every tech vendor they've been forced to work with before Eduardo says, "Oh, actually, if you need some less shitty infrastructure guys," and produces a couple of phone numbers. This turns into a long ass discussion of Eduardo's own constant infrastructure issues, which Danny calls "fucking obnoxious first world problems Mister Hedge Fund Manager."
"If you take my network down, do I not and crawl under desks to reboot routers?" Eduardo asks.
"No," Danny ripostes. "Because Pete told me you guys hired a bunch of tech guys to crawl under your desk and reboot your routers for you."
Eduardo shrugs. "It's true," he admits, expecting Chris to be laughing or smirking or something other than the look of careful poise on his face. Eduardo asks, "You okay?"
"You're — you're doing really well, aren't you?" Chris asks, and it's not asked with surprise or disdain or anything but honest curiosity, and Eduardo doesn't think Chris means money. Eduardo thinks that he hasn't seen Chris since they graduated Harvard, that the last time they spoke, Eduardo was still a mess of opened wounds, and that this is the first time Chris has seen Eduardo since he managed to knit himself back together.
It makes Eduardo shy all of a sudden, and he ducks his head over his coffee, running a thumb over the rim of the mug and feeling his cheeks pink. He murmurs, "Yeah. Yes. I am," and the silence hovers over all of them until Chris takes mercy and says:
"Oh, so I need to tell you about the party Dustin threw himself when he left Facebook."
Chris is in town all week and offers twice to go get a hotel, which Eduardo waves off. He has an office-cum-guest room for a reason, and after Sunday, Danny's actually off to see family in Napa, so there's no reason Chris needs to clear out. It's fun, actually, to give Chris the not for tourists rundown of the city and all the ways New York's changed. They go to the Highline and Caracas Arepas in Alphabet City. Eduardo risks Chris's good opinion by taking him to the Japanese murder-porn restaurant in St. Mark's, and drunk on Sapporo, they spend ten minutes in line for the cotton candy machine outside before staggering toward the subway. Eduardo gets to meet a bunch of fresh young interns staffing the Obama for America base, and in exchange, Eduardo takes Chris to the Desenrascanço offices, where's he's immediately inundated with tiny disasters.
It's a good trip, really good to catch up, and on Friday they get bagels and coffee in the morning before Chris calls for a car service back to the airport.
"I'm really glad this worked out," Chris says, earnest, and dragging Eduardo into a hug.
"Me, too," Eduardo laughs, and realizes he means it, arms wrapped around Chris's shoulders, standing in brisk fall wind.
Since opening its doors, the fund's accumulated $250 million in assets under management and served as the incubator and guidance counselor for more than a dozen tech start-ups. Seconds was Desenrascanço's first graduate, followed closely by Bookworm, an open-source e-book management system that's now operating on a government contract and is anticipated to take over the Library of Congress's archiving and distribution channels on digital novels. Saverin is the judge and jury for picking clients on the consulting side, and he's had a win-rate of 70 percent so far, with a FonHack being the only significant flop.
"I thought people liked phone customization," Saverin says, walking through the pantry of the fund offices, where there are currently three guys from a restaurant supply shop installing a bigger fridge and bolting down a waffle maker. "But apparently not enough to pay like $5 for it. It was a learning experience, and Jenn and Kate — " the app's founders " — are working on something else now. It's pretty exciting."
Saverin doesn't fire failed clients. He feeds them tequila and cookies and they take a two week break to see if they want to keep working together. Some people walk away, disheartened by the process; most people have more than one good idea.
"It's not cool to admit, but I really do like working with people," Saverin says, after he's snatched the last two Arizona Iced Teas out of the fridge and made for the defensive position of his office. There's a small rainforest growing in here: a collection of ferns and three bonsais and a herd of cacti. "Not every good idea is exciting, and just because something is good and exciting doesn't mean it'll catch on, but I like giving people their best possible chance. We're here to force creators to think about logistics and help them with the financials, all the boring bones of something so that when they hit the ground, they can really take off running."
It's working. These days, for venture capitalists, potential investors and acquirers, a stamp of approval from Desenrascanço is almost as good as doing your own due diligence.
"Eduardo is a smart guy, and he has a good eye for long term value," says Ben Warwick, who ran into Saverin at the TechCrunch 2011 Disrupt conference and promptly forced an acquaintance. "If he comes to you with a product, you don't think, what the hell is this? You think, this is the guy who signed off on Seconds and Bookworm and told everybody to stay the hell away from Color. This is a guy who knows his shit."
— Eduardo Saverin Is Making This Up as He Goes Along, Portfolio, December 2013
Eduardo only stops by the office because he left his back up phone charger there, and left his main phone charger in Rio, where he's spent the past week playing translator and negotiating a few Olympic tech infrastructure deals for his clients. He still hasn't figured out the trick to sleeping on planes, so he's essentially a zombie: swiping his security key without success four times before the Vince on lobby security just buzzes him and says, "Man, Eduardo, go home." Eduardo thinks he says, "Yeah, in a minute," but then he's in the elevator up so who knows if it actually gets spoken out loud.
It's only 2 p.m. on a Thursday, so he's not surprised that the offices are jumping. They're five days out from CES 2012, and Pete is drilling Greg and Jamie and Lauren on what to do and who to talk to, and how not to cry on Steve Ballmer. He'd go himself, but Jin's been on bed rest since month five of her pregnancy, and no amount of Sumeet and Eduardo dropping in to visit is going to make up for Pete being there with her.
"Picking up new clients, yes," Pete is telling them in the main conference room. "Accidentally creating new business lines, no."
"If anybody sleazes on you, make Greg fight them," Jin calls out, her voice tinny on the speakerphone, because she says gestating is the world's most boring God damn time suck, and that next baby, Pete's carrying.
Greg, who is 6'5" and 220 pounds like some Harvard rowers Eduardo has known, pales, his mouth going into a soft frown of worry. Greg, unlike some 6'5", 220 pound Harvard rowers Eduardo has known, is a vegan and volunteers at an animal rescue. One time, Eduardo's personal assistant made him cry.
Jamie puts a comforting hand on Greg's elbow. "Don't worry," she promises. "I'll fight them. You can just be lookout in case the police come."
"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear any of that," Eduardo tells them all, leaning into the doorway, and when Pete waves hello, he adds, "I'm just letting you know I'm probably going to be working from home tomorrow — I feel like — "
And then the rest of whatever he's going to say gets swallowed by a commotion coming from the front lobby.
"Oh, Jesus," Pete says, and grabs blindly for Eduardo's Ichiro Suzuki-signed bat, where it's mounted against their wall of clients, their framed company logos and autographed photos.
Eduardo points at him. "Put that the fuck down," he says, and says to Jamie, Greg, and Lauren, "Stay here. Pete and I are going to go see what the hell is going on."
When they get to the lobby, what's happening is Mark fucking Zuckerberg is yelling at poor Nasreen, who is on the verge of tears and frantically trying to work the office phone at the same time. He's wearing an ill-fitting suit and a hideous tie, and his hair looks like he was dragged backward through a hedge, curls going nuts as he hollers:
"Are you kidding me? How big can this office be? Are you honestly telling me that in the ten minutes my ass has been standing here you still have no idea where your ostensible fearless leader is? How are you still employed? Because if this were Facebook, let me assure you, your can would be — "
"This isn't fucking Faceboook, Mark," Eduardo hears himself roaring, with an edge in his voice that sounds foreign to his own ears. He's furious, he's absolutely furious, and that doesn't change or flinch at all when Mark's surprised eyes meet Eduardo's gaze. "So you better watch your tone, or get escorted out of here by security — are we clear?"
Mark's silent for a beat before saying, "Yes. Okay."
In the absolute silence that follows, Eduardo turns away from Mark and to Nasreen, to everybody else frozen in an awkward rictus in the lobby, and says, quietly but in a tone that doesn't brook argument, "Nasreen, you have my apologies. Everyone else, sorry about the disturbance." Eduardo glares over at Mark. "You — follow me."
Mark does, and Pete falls into step with Eduardo, telegraphing something complicated with his eyes that could mean either, please don't murder the CEO of Facebook at our offices we have like zero plausible deniability or please don't murder the CEO of Facebook while Jin is still out on maternity she wanted to help. Out loud, he says, "Do you want me to sit in?"
"No," Mark says, mutinous.
"Shut up, Mark," Eduardo snaps at him, and says to Pete, "No, it's fine — look, can you go and make sure Nasreen is okay?"
Pete only sighs and nods before heading back, giving Eduardo one of those lingering, doleful looks in the process.
"Jesus Christ," Eduardo mutters, slams into his office, and shuts the door behind Mark with a clatter, taking the half second to throw the lock he never uses before whirling around to yell, "Just what the fuck do you think you're doing?"
"I'm here to figure out why you did it," Mark grinds out, clawing at the knot of his tie like it's choking him, eyes flaring. "Why after all this time, you'd fuck me over like this."
Eduardo's vision actually whites out for a moment.
"I — excuse me?" Eduardo manages.
"Because I listened to you," Mark rants. "I lawyered up. I waited. And for years, nothing. I thought maybe you'd seen reason."
"I'm too confused to even be angry with you right now," Eduardo admits, using his words, because Danny's been on this fucking kick recently inflicting his own self-help reading on Eduardo via the medium of email. "What are you talking about?"
Mark stops dragging at his tie. "Are you — you're actually serious, you don't know?"
Eduardo puts his face in his hands, and muffled through his palms, he says, "Mark, I've been in Brazil for the past week. So whatever you imagine I've done, or haven't done, I don't know what it is." He just wants his fucking phone charger and go to sleep. This is why he hates losing stuff on trips.
There's a long silence, long enough to be awkward, and when Eduardo looks up, Mark's expression is flat and simultaneously miserable.
"I'm being forced to IPO," he says, sullen.
"Okay?" Eduardo tries.
Mark glowers. "The 500 rule."
"I'm still trying to figure out why any of this means you blew in here to make my receptionist cry," Eduardo returns.
"God, you moron," Mark hisses. "When a company exceeds 500 investors, or $10 million in assets, they're required to start filing disclosures to the — "
" — SEC, and they have 120 days from the end of the fiscal year to file," Eduardo interrupts. "Yes, I know this, what's your point?"
"My point is that last year, my executive board stuffed me onto a red-eye for an emergency meeting because we'd crossed the 500 investor threshold, and everybody spent a month arguing with me about going public because — and I fucking quote — 'It looks like LinkedIn is going to do it,' and we'd have to start disclosing anyway," Mark says, acid, and getting louder, he adds, "I've spent the past five months trying to figure out who was the asshole who ticked me over from 499 investors to 500 — and by computational modeling and process of elimination, it has to be you."
Eduardo says, "Wow." Because, wow.
"Who did you sell it to?" Mark asks, seething. "Who? Did you need more seed money for your fund? Whose sticky fucking fingers are all over my company?"
"Wait," Eduardo says, suddenly realizing. "If you guys are planning an offering, am I legally allowed to know about this right now? Have you even filed an S-1?"
Mark keeps staring at him, but he says, "No." Pause. "Shit."
"Uh," Eduardo says, because holy shit. Part of him really wants to pick up his phone and start telling everybody because holy shit but the part of him that isn't a bastard, that swore long ago not to let his past mistakes own him, that part just sighs, and says, "Let me grab my phone charger, and then you can use my office to make your calls, okay?"
Mark nods dumbly, like the reality of what he's done is just seeping in, and Eduardo guesses he's not the only one to come off a work bender. He'd feel sorrier for Mark if this whole thing wasn't completely hilarious and his own God damn fault.
In all the years Eduardo's worked with Pete and Jin and Sumeet, he's never called a meeting and said, "Okay, here are some embarrassing things that happened to me in college, and why I never talk about or use Facebook." But he is the one who signed off on their general and administrative expenses for the year, so he knows that they have Lexis-Nexis access and four Bloomberg terminals now, which doesn't even cover the article in the New York Times Magazine that Eduardo had been forced to decline comment on, and then tell Terry, their in-house press guy, that he'd been forced to decline comment on. So if his ugly past history with Facebook is a secret, it's only out of collective mercy, and not because Eduardo's particularly ninja about hiding it.
As big as the office feels in comparison to the cowboy days, when it was the four of them working out of Jin's apartment, it's still tiny, and Eduardo has no doubt everyone at work knows. He hopes they know, then, that's why Eduardo's so careful, that's why he's so stubborn about picking their clients and refusing to take shortcuts. He hopes they take it as an unspoken promise that he will always try his hardest not to fuck them over.
So it's really no surprise that for the next two hours, while Mark is on his cell phone with his presumably terrifying phalanx of lawyers, every single employee of Desenrascanço finds one flimsy excuse or another to walk past Eduardo's office — which has glass walls — so they can glare at Mark, or gather in small groups to glare at him together.
Eduardo knows this because he's stolen a chair out of one of the smaller conference rooms and is sitting next to his closed office door, sorting out his work email on his iPhone and shooing people off if they loiter and scowl too long. In part this is because he doesn't want any more incidents cropping up, but mostly it's because he doesn't really trust Mark not to fuck with his office or kill one of his plants.
He's in the middle of writing something to Glenn, who has a hate-on like no other for Instagram and wants to take it out at the knees, when Jin calls.
"Hey, how's the baby?" Eduardo asks.
"Fuck the baby," she declares. "How're you?"
"I'm — just sitting here," he says, because there's no point in prevaricating. He glances over his shoulder inside the office again, where Mark's on his feet now and saying something into his cell phone with angry hand motions. "Mark's...doing something."
"If you want me to tell him to go die in a fire, I can do that for you," she says, and over the phone there's a rustling noise before she asks, "Seriously, are you okay?"
Eduardo's reflexive answer is, "yeah, I'm fine, really," but he stops and makes himself think about it.
He's never been okay in the context of Mark. He's been elated and intrigued and head over heels, barely breathing in the endorphin rush of being in love, being in love with Mark's ideas. And Eduardo's not the type of queer boy who throws himself at straight guys out of porn-based optimism, so he'd never pushed it more than smiling a little too much, being a little too obvious, being a little too eager to please, but even the firewall of never having known Mark biblically hadn't been any kind of anodyne after the dilution. It's probably why it hurt so badly, why it felt like a third-degree burn. Eduardo had thought he was safe because there'd never been so much as a kiss, and he was too busy congratulating himself to see that he'd already offered Mark the keys to the kingdom. Nobody ever expects a friend to betray them; you have no defenses against it.
But all the places that were ripped open raw not so long ago are healed over, now, that hypersmooth skin of flat scar tissue that closes you up after a grievous wound. It doesn't pull when Eduardo walks and it doesn't hurt when he laughs and he looks over his shoulder at Mark again, wondering if this time is the time it'll hit him, and all he feels is tired from his trip, impatient for this to be over with, happy that something shitty is happening to Mark, because that asshole really and truly deserves it. That's as close as peace as Eduardo can imagine — it's more than he ever expected.
"You know what?" Eduardo tells Jin. "I think I really am okay."
"Awesome," she says. "Great. You should come over tonight and bring Chinese."
Eduardo closes his eyes and smiles into the phone. "Okay," he says softly. "I will."
Mark's lawyers show up 15 minutes later and bundle him out of the offices, leaving their card and their apologies and sincerely threatening requests for signed NDAs.
"I'm going to have to have my own lawyers look this over," Eduardo says, feeling generous and reasonable and so happy because standing in the lobby, Mark is rubbing at the bridge of his nose, head bent low, clearly getting bitched out by someone on partner track. "I'm sure you understand."
The woman, she introduced herself as Marilyn, smiles tightly. "Of course. But I'm sure you'll also appreciate the delicate nature of — "
"I just got off a flight from Rio three hours ago. I'm exhausted. Your client burst into my offices, terrorized my employees, and went generally bugfuck at me," Eduardo tells her, already rising to his feet and reaching for his coat. "Forgive me if I don't give a shit about the delicate nature of things or making things convenient for you."
She nods grimly. "Understood. But — "
"I'll try to get back to you tomorrow," Eduardo lies. The fuck he will.
Marilyn's smile is wan. "Right," she says, wise to him, and lets Eduardo see her out the door of his office, through the hallways — where all of his employees are suddenly lined up and staring intently at the parade of Facebook lawyers and CEOs — and into the lobby, where Mark is glaring angrily at his iPhone and typing at Mach 3.
"Mr. Saverin," Marks Unnamed Partner Track Lawyer says. "Again, I'm so sorry."
"I'm sure," Eduardo says, too tired for politeness at this point. "Are we done here?"
"As soon as we have the signed NDA," Marilyn says with forced lightness.
Eduardo's about to tell her that his lawyers are in the fucking Caymans for the foreseeable future just to see if her head explodes, when Mark cuts in to say:
"It's fine. Eduardo wouldn't — there's no rush."
Marilyn looks like she's just had a tiny stroke, and Mark's Unnamed Partner Track Lawyer says, "Mr. Zuckerberg, please — "
"We should go," Mark says to his lawyers, and he looks up at Eduardo and says, "We're going — we — take your time. Or you know, fuck the NDA, you don't have to fill it out."
"Yes, you do," Marilyn says to Eduardo, before turning to Mark. "Yes, he does."
"Marilyn," Mark snarls, "I will fire you."
Marilyn looks like she's going to unhinge her jaw and eat Mark's head before he gets a chance to fire her, so Eduardo clears his throat and says, "Guys."
Unnamed Partner Track Lawyer springs into life here, leaving Eduardo with his card and ushering Marilyn out the lobby doors into the elevator bay with a hand on her shoulder, saying, "Mr. Zuckerberg, we should go."
Unsurprisingly, Mark doesn't go anywhere. He just stands in the lobby and stares up at Eduardo. Mark looks paler and a touch older, his hair cropped in closer and his jaw tight, teeth gritted. He has the same blue eyes and the same nose and cheeks, and Eduardo remembers looking at Mark's face and loving him so badly, so needfully, that it felt like something capsizing in his chest. He remembers knowing nothing could ever come from it and still hoarding the tiny moments, the stolen intimacies like they could be translated into something worth hoping for.
He used to think that if there was the right moment, one with every possibility wide open, he would ask Mark why he'd signed off on the dilution, whether he ever regretted it, if he added advertising to the site and thought about Eduardo, how he finally threw Sean Parker out of Facebook.
Instead, Eduardo says, "Mark, what do you want?"
"Who?" Mark asks, whip-fast. "I mean — who did you sell it to? The shares?"
"I sold some to start the fund," Eduardo admits slowly, because he doesn't know if those guys are still holding the investment but it could make life really fucking uncomfortable if Mark is going to continue being a lunatic once they start having annual shareholder meetings.
Mark just shakes his head, annoyed. "No, no. The last time. The most recent time. Who was it? That you sold it to?"
"It was a present," Eduardo laughs. "I gave my friends a share for their wedding — it was just a gag gift, Mark."
He's going to say, I didn't know it was going to ruin your life, but he can't, because the look on Mark's face is wretched, it's etched unexpected hurt there, in the slack line of Mark's mouth and the wrinkle between his eyebrows.
"You — you gave it away," Mark chokes out.
"It was one share," Eduardo repeats.
Mark makes a noise that would probably be a laugh if it wasn't so miserable. "You pushed me...into a fucking public offering with one share."
"A gag gift one share," Eduardo says, and he wonders if he's supposed to feel bad about this but comes up blank. There is no one in the world who would argue he has any obligation toward Mark's happiness anymore.
"Fuck," Mark says, and leaves, storms out of the lobby and strides right into the elevator Marilyn and Unnamed Lawyer have been holding open, waiting nervously, and Eduardo just grins and grins and waves goodbye as the doors slide shut on Mark's taut, furious face.
Eduardo's lawyers get a huge kick out of the whole thing, and also okay the NDA, so he sits on it for three more days just to make Mark's legal representation unhappy before having it couriered over to Facebook's New York offices. Marilyn, who is apparently in-house counsel, sends a brief thank you note, which Eduardo sticks in an Ikea frame on his desk for sheer hilarity purposes.
Facebook's S-1 gets filed on February 1st. Eduardo has every intention of reading it — he still owns six whole common shares, after all — except Microsoft starts sniffing around one of his clients. Eduardo once had an 18 mile-long altercation with Bing maps, and is extremely suspicious all things Redmond, period, so he ends up circling the wagons and doing a deep dive on the potential deal.
He emerges from that and three others just in time for two of his clients to decide to withdraw fantastical amounts of money because they saw that Larry Ellison bought an island and now they want an island.
Eduardo gives up on telling them to avoid their Bond villain futures mid-May, by which point Facebook's IPO valuation is hovering between $77 billion and $96 billion. Eduardo has private, deeply biased feelings about this considering the lack of sustainable revenue model in mobile, an increasingly disinterested user base, endless privacy concerns, and a petty desire for Mark's life to be difficult and annoying, but he just accepts his rainforest-killing packets of shareholder information like Pete and Jin and dissect them for fun over lunch.
"My favorite risk factor so far," Jin reads out loud, "'Unfavorable media coverage could negatively affect our business.' That's like the financial equivalent of calling the press out on their liberal agenda."
"Wait, get this one: 'Our CEO has control over key decision making as a result of his control of a majority of our voting stock,'" Sumeet says.
There are all sorts of good corporate governance reasons that's legitimate risk factor, but mostly Eduardo gets the incurable giggles because yes, definitely, Mark's very existence is of course among Facebook's most serious risk factors for ongoing success.
Facebook opens for first day of trading at $38 a share on May 18, and Eduardo raises an iced coffee to it when he walks past the Thomson Reuters building that day. CNBC runs some awful, grating footage of Mark's awkward Be Normal Jesus Christ smile as he rings a bell in the middle of Hacker Square on the company campus. Eduardo doesn't think about it that much — the investors are back, and regret the island purchase, which, what the actual fuck is Eduardo supposed to do about that? he is not adding a fucking island to the fund's assets — until the close of trading, when Pete knocks on his office door and leans in to say only:
"They closed up 23 cents."
Eduardo stares. "Are you serious?"
"Twenty. Three. Cents," Pete says again.
"Oh, man," Eduardo breathes.
"Yeah," Pete agrees, grinning as he goes, calling out, "This is going to be a shitshow."
It is. They're trading below IPO price by May 21 and regulators are involved by the 22nd, which is impressive even for Mark, who — by Eduardo's calculations — has lost roughly a lot of money in this deal. Sumeet goes around preempting everybody's Morgan Stanley mocking by saying if he was still there the lead underwriters wouldn't have fucked up so badly and if everybody still wants their job by the next day they need to shut up and harass the three Goldman assholes in the other offices. Eduardo pays attention because there's no way not to pay attention. Literally everything goes wrong with Mark's IPO: the Nasdaq fucks up opening training, FINRA is on the underwriters' asses within a week, there're multiple class-action lawsuits filed by August. The estimates on Mark's losses from the offering climb from $5 billion to $7 billion to $10 billion and shove him off the top ten billionaires list, which is so fucking awful and hilarious at the same time.
Facebook's valuation hits some sort of embarrassing low in August, and it's bad enough that Mark starts doing a bunch of interviews and starts talking about morale boosting activities in public. Eduardo misses most of this because Anjali and Sumeet have finally gotten their stories straight, and he spends two weeks in Hyderabad for their wedding, learning to speak Hindi and Telugu very poorly. He sees the Musi river and takes a hundred thousand pictures of the Charminar, lit orange-yellow and shaded neon green in the black nightscape of the city — cars circling it light fireflies.
New York's shaken off the last warm arms of summer by the time Eduardo stumbles back into the city, and he takes out his fall sweaters and coats, calls Danny to see how Michigan is treating him, talks to his mae and pai, and goes to work.
"Eduardo and I were in the same new employee orientation class," Garvey says. He won the coin toss with Patel and has the corner office, with two solid walls of glass looking out onto Manhattan at dusk. "And not to cast aspersions on my former coworkers, but there's a certain type of asshole who gets hired into Goldman Sachs, and Eduardo didn't fit that template at all. He looked like he did on the surface, but you talk to him for two minutes and he wants to join your math league and babysit your kid."
Saverin's infamous niceness isn't always to his benefit. As a sophomore at Harvard, he was Facebook's first investor and chief financial officer. He suggested expansion to Stanford and brought in Sean Parker, who told the Wall Street Journal in an interview two years ago that Saverin was shoved out the door at Facebook with brutal efficiency, his ownership stake diluted down to 0.03 percent. "He never saw it coming," Parker told the Journal. "That guy is too trusting."
"Maybe he was then, at 20," Garvey says, protective. "But Eduardo's not 20 anymore."
— Eduardo Saverin Is Making This Up as He Goes Along, Portfolio, December 2013
Maybe it's because Danny has the audacity to go and meet a nice boy in Michigan, or because Pete brought Sarah into the office today, and she'd babbled joyfully until Eduardo found himself down on his belly playing blocks with her in conference room A, but whatever it is, when Eduardo's assistant asks, "Um. There's a Mark Zuckerberg here who would like to see you," he just says, "Fine. Keep him away from Nasreen."
He takes Sarah with him, because Jin and Pete are in some meeting with the reporter from Portfolio who's been following them around all week, and it's worth it just to see Mark's face when Eduardo rocks up with a baby.
"Uh," Mark says.
"Mark, this is Sarah," Eduardo says. "Sarah, this is Mark."
"Where did you get a baby?" Mark asks, eyeing Sarah warily as Eduardo goes to his desk and settles her in his lap. She's still at that squishy small stage, where she's happy wearing Batman footie pajamas and loves scratching ballpoint pens all over draft copies of contracts, so Eduardo presses a kiss to the back of her head and hands her a Bic and some faxes from Microsoft.
"I stole her from Petsmart," Eduardo says, distracted, and looks back up at Mark to say, "Are you here to yell at me about stuff I don't know about some more?"
Mark glares. "No."
Eduardo allows his silence to speak volumes.
"I — wanted to hire you," Mark manages, grinding it out. He's sitting on the very edge of Eduardo's visitor chair, leaning forward over his knees, and Mark's back in his customary jeans and hoodie; at least he's wearing close-toed sneakers. Eduardo wonders where his lawyers are, if they even know Mark's here.
"To do what?" Eduardo asks reasonably, because Facebook has in-house everything now, and he can't imagine there's anything his dog and pony shop can do that Mark's multi-billion corporation can't contract out.
Mark starts with, "To consult on — " at which point Sarah hurls the pen at his face " — Jesus! Did you train her to do that?"
Jin might have, but Eduardo can't say for sure, so he just digs up another pen for her and says, "No. To consult on what?"
This time, Mark keeps a suspicious gaze on Sarah the entire time as he says, "On mobile strategy. I don't know if you've heard but people have issues with ours."
"Mostly because you guys don't appear to have a functional revenue stream with your mobile strategy," Eduardo says, not unkindly, but he reads things, and their latest crop of interns spend a lot of time on their breaks sighing and skipping over Facebook ads on their smartphones.
"We put ads in the app," Mark says, stubborn.
"Bah," Sarah yells, which pretty much sums up Eduardo's feelings about that, too, because there's no way Mark doesn't know the vast difference between a print ad, a web ad, and a mobile ad, and so do all the advertisers who are probably fighting Facebook hammer and tongs over pricing. There's not a great solution here.
Eduardo sighs. "Don't you guys have McKinsey on retainer?"
"And a half-dozen other consultants," Mark answers easily. "But forgive me if I want the 'bleeding edge in technology consulting' that can only be provided by your unpronounceable Portuguese name company."
Frowning, Eduardo says, "Mark, we're busy, just — hire someone else," because he'd spent this morning before Pete and Jin had dumped Sarah on him trying to find someone willing to value an island and he just doesn't have the energy for this.
"I would rather work with you," Mark says flatly, and Sarah takes the opportunity to throw another pen at him, which actually makes contact with his chest this time. Mark doesn't bother looking away from Eduardo's face as his expression sours and he says, "You definitely trained her."
"It's possible her mom trained her," Eduardo admits. He rips off a giant piece of tape and sticks it all over her tiny fingers, which should keep her distracted, and says, "Mark, if this is some sort of, I don't know, incredibly awkward olive branch, it's unnecessary."
"You're seriously turning down my offer to pay your extortionate fees," Mark says flatly, not really a question, and Eduardo can see the cogs and gears turning in his head.
Eduardo scowls. As a sociological experiment, and because they couldn't realistically keep up with the level of interest if they wanted to grow at anything approaching a healthy, organic rate, Sumeet and Jin had decided to jack up their fee structure to three and twenty. Counterintuitively, this seems to have made them even more popular, as people think that if they can charge more than industry standard, it's an indicator of quality. Barron's had done an entire write-up, and Eduardo had spent a week sequestered in his office trying to decide who they could and couldn't afford to turn down, which Pete dismissed as, "who has the best bribes."
He should shut Mark down flat out, but this is business, and Facebook would be a coup among their client list. Eduardo looks down at Sarah, who looks back up at him, the massive piece of tape now stuck all over her face. She says, "Wardo," because she can't manage three syllables yet, and Eduardo sighs.
"Fine, leave me some contact information," he says, capitulating. "I'll have to discuss it with my partners, but we'll get back to you and we can arrange some meetings."
Mark asks, "In Palo Alto?"
Eduardo would rather set himself on fire. "We can set up a video conference."
"It would be easier if we did it in Palo Alto," Mark presses.
Eduardo narrows his eyes. "For who?"
Mark's glare is sufficient answer, and Sarah takes it as a cue to start fussing, which means she's either done enduring Eduardo's distracted affection or she wants Pete.
"Oh, boy," Eduardo says, clasping Sarah against his chest, with one hand on her tiny back. She whines and presses her face into his neck, and Eduardo says, "Mark, I have to go return her to her parents now, but if you're serious about hiring us, leave me a card or a phone number, and we'll have our offices work out the logistics, but — "
Eduardo wants to say that Pete and Jin will probably want to veto Facebook as a client, and that Sumeet will be pissed Mark even had the audacity to show up. Eduardo wants to say that even if they take the job, it's not a good idea because he and Mark in tight confines has never been a good idea. Eduardo wants to say that he's not the stupid kid he was at twenty anymore, moved by little gestures, and he never wants to be again, especially not by Mark. Eduardo wants to ask, Why are you doing this? What are you trying to get from me? because he doesn't know, and he hasn't known Mark in years, can't read the guy anymore.
"But?" Mark prompts, and he's climbing to his feet now, too, still looking horribly out of place in these sorts of offices, with sleek furniture and dark wood desks. He's 28 and the chairman and CEO of one of the world's biggest technology and media companies, and he's still that asshole in Kirkland for whom Eduardo nurtures an inexplicable tenderness. It doesn't hurt anymore, but Eduardo remembers when it did.
"But I don't know what you want out of this," Eduardo says in a rush, before he can think better of it.
"I want a sustainable mobile strategy," Mark replies, and without any pretense, adds, "And I want you to talk to me again."
Eduardo's throat goes dry. "We're talking right now."
"That's not what I meant," Mark says, his jaw tight.
"I know what you meant," Eduardo murmurs, and he cups the back of Sarah's head, where she's warm and wiggling and real, grounding himself. "But this might be the only kind of talking we ever do, Mark, and — " he looks up, at Mark's flatly unhappy look, the corners of his mouth turning down " — you need to be okay with that, okay?"
Mark isn't. Or at least he doesn't look like he's okay, and there's still a piece of Eduardo that wants to soothe the expression off Mark's face, offer him Red Bulls and Red Vines and $1,000 investments until the hurt eases out of Mark's blue eyes. Most of Eduardo knows better. Most of him is 29 and not beholden to anyone anymore, because this is New York, not California, and this is his company and his office.
So Eduardo lets out a shaky breath, and maybe holds Sarah more tightly than she'd like, and he asks again, "Mark — okay?"
It takes ages. It takes forever, but Mark nods — a painful-looking jerk of the head — and he says, "Yes. Okay," and fumbles something out of his pocket, a card he slaps down on the edge of Eduardo's desk as he says, "Bye," and leaves, darts out of Eduardo's office and stalks down the hall, hands stuffed into the pocket of his hoodie.
He nearly mows down the Portfolio reporter, just stepping out of the conference room with Pete and Jin, who barely takes a second to register what the hell's going on before she's plucking Sarah out of Eduardo's arms and asking:
"What the hell was that about?"
"Here," Eduardo says, and snatches the card off his desk. He doesn't look at it. He hands it straight to Jin. "Here — he wants to hire us to consult on their mobile strategy."
"What mobile strategy," Jin says, automatic. She takes the card with the arm not carrying her daughter and frowns at the back of it, and Eduardo forces himself not to think about what Mark could have written there. His private cell number? An apology? A confession. He both does and doesn't want to know, but he does know he shouldn't know, that it'll just open Pandora's box. "Are you sure — ?"
"I'm leaving it up to you guys," he tells her.
Jin smiles at him, patient, and Eduardo feels something grateful and warm well up from the toes when she says, "All right. We'll have a meeting about it tomorrow, okay?"
"Okay," Eduardo agrees, and then the Portfolio writer is popping his head in the opened door, looking perplexed and aroused with curiosity, saying:
"I'm sorry to interrupt, but, was that Mark Zuckerberg?"
"We can't really comment on that," Eduardo says, which is bullshit and won't work anyway, but before he can worry about it, Jin is yelling:
"Oh my God, Eduardo she's got tape in her hair, why do you keep letting her play with this stuff!"
"She likes it," Eduardo says feebly, because he and Sumeet are in close competition to see which of them is going to be the most problematic uncle who spoils her.
Then Pete knocks on the glass wall of Eduardo's office, looking constipated. "I'm going to regret asking about this: but did you seriously agree to take on an island as an asset under management?"
Eduardo grins, feeling steadier, feeling better, noises filtering through after Mark left a vacuum in his wake, the accusing stillness melting away because it's Wednesday and Eduardo still has to get that island valued and Pete and Jin's nanny is sick and they promised the TechCrunch guys they'd give a talk at the Disrupt convention this year. There's just a lot going on. He doesn't need to dwell on this. He can't.
Jin huffs and tells the reporter, "That's off the record, by the way."
Portfolio Reporter just looks smug. "I could be convinced if you make it worth my while."
In October, Mark Zuckerberg was at Desenrascanço's New York headquarters, seen exiting stage left from Saverin's office in a Gap hoodie and fraying jeans. Facebook spokesman Ed Lively said Zuckerberg was in New York for some executive meetings, and that the company can't comment on their CEO's movements beyond his official scheduling. Saverin is almost as close-mouthed. He can't confirm that Facebook is a client of their consultancy business, if Zuckerberg is buying into their fund, or even if he's trying to make amends for long-ago wrongs. It's all very mysterious.
"All I can say that Mr. Zuckerberg had a question about our consulting business," Saverin admits, after a lot of impolite needling. "As for anything beyond that — we'll have to wait and see."
— Eduardo Saverin Is Making This Up as He Goes Along, Portfolio, December 2013