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Morning Coffee: The interesting upbringing of the man who runs Google. The aggressively recruiting hedge fund

Chennai, India

Goldman Sachs' former CEO Lloyd Blankfein was well known for embodying a kind of rags to riches version of success. Having grown up in the Bronx and gone on to make a billion 'doing God's work,' Blankfein looked like an all-American success story. However, set alongside Google CEO Sundar Pichai's global success story, Blankfein's evolution looks sort of parochial. 

Pichai, who earned nearly $200m as Google CEO last year, told the New York Times he grew up in a "modest" house in India's Chennai that was shared with tenants. There was no refrigerator. There were no bedrooms. There was a "draft" and they slept on the living room floor. Pichai said the family had, "anxiety."

In Pichai's childhood there was also no computer. He said he read a lot of books: "I was processing a lot. I read whatever I could get my hands on. I read Dickens." He was also out with friends, playing cricket in the street.

As with most tales of childhood impoverishment turned into adult achievement, Pichai's break came through elite universities. Blankfein went to Harvard and Pichai attended the Indian Institute of Techology (from which Goldman Sachs likes to hire its strats) and then he went to Stanford University in California. It was only at Stanford that Pichai gained unfettered access to computers - before that, he'd only been on one three or four times in his life.

The result of this computer-absence is that Pichai has a strong sense he could do without them for long periods, but is battling along with everyone else to make this a reality. He tells the NYT: "When I come home on a Friday evening, I really do want to let go of my devices for a couple days. I haven’t quite succeeded in doing that." For anyone else trying to limit screen-time, Pichai introduces an interesting concept in the battle for technology self-deprivation: "activation energy," or making sure devices aren't easily available. In his home, for example, the TV requires activation energy because it's out of reach and is therefore used less than would otherwise be the case. The computer seems more readily available.-  Pinchai says his 11 year-old son is already "mining ethereum and earning money." Presumably he's also sleeping on a bed and drinking refrigerated soda. Meanwhile, Llloyd Blankfein's grown up sons seem to be working in private equity. That's inter-generational social mobility for you.

Separately, hedge fund Citadel - which has been losing people in London, seems to be avidly hiring them too. The Wall Street Journal reports that Citadel has been picking people out of D.E. Shaw, whose long-short equities group has made losses this year. Citadel has reportedly been luring D.E. Shaw staff with 'lucrative offers' amidst an 'aggressive recruiting effort.'


"When I first joined Google I was struck by the fact that it was a very idealistic, optimistic’s always been a strong streak of idealism in the company, and you still see it today." (New York Times)

Here's how Google is meeting employees' demands after the staff walkout. (Recode) 

Facebook will no longer force employees to settle sexual harassment claims in private arbitration. (NY Times) 

Data provider IHS Markit is providing a fleet of electric bikes for its employees to ride to meetings. (Financial News) 

UBS is using Brexit to levy for weaker regulation. - It's indicating that it might not go to France because it's being fined $1.8bn there for allegedly helping French clients to dodge taxes. (Bloomberg)

Brexit-supporting hedge fund Marshall Wace is bulking up in Dublin. (Financial Times) 

The European Securities and Markets Authority has removed the danger of disruption to uncleared derivatives contracts if the UK crashes out of the EU. EMSA says it will offer a year long reprieve for some kinds of interest rate and credit derivatives if there's a hard Brexit. (Financial Times) 

U.S. investment banks are planning to shift about 250 billion euros ($283 billion) of balance sheet assets to Frankfurt because of Brexit. (Bloomberg) 

IT is the most in-demand skills set in the UK this year across multiple industries. C++ and C# programming languages and cyber security skills are key. (Financial Times) 

Goldman Sachs promoted Barry O'Brien and Ward Waltemath, two bankers behind some of the biggest tech deals of the year, to partner. (Yahoo)

The Myers Briggs test cannot be validated. Over 50% of people who take it get a different result when they take it a second time. (Wharton) 

.@DaddyDaughterHF offers free classes for fathers to learn how to do their daughter's hair👨‍👧

— INSIDER (@thisisinsider) November 9, 2018

New York traders are paying for their dogs to be taken for three hour hikes in the New Jersey countryside. (NY Times) 

When you meet your Harvard graduation class years later: 'Nearly every single banker or fund manager wanted to find a way to use accrued wealth to give back (some had concrete plans, some didn’t), and many, at this point, seemed to want to leave Wall Street as soon as possible to take up some sort of art.' (The Atlantic) 

Why a broker who left to run a wine company decided to go back into finance to help launch his company: "I’d write eight salary cheques a month using my own salary.” (The Times) 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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