From Wall Street to Google: Takeaways from Ruth Porats Big Move
By poaching Ruth Porat from Morgan Stanley, it's clear Google wants to forge closer relationships with banks. That's because banks hold the key to helping Google expand its Google Wallet mobile-payments product.March 24
WIB PHLong known as one of the most powerful women on Wall Street, Ruth Porat has shown leadership lately on issues facing women in corporate America.September 22
People take jobs in new fields every day. But rarely do career changes set off the fevered analysis and speculation that greeted Morgan Stanley chief financial officer Ruth Porat's decision to ditch Wall Street for Silicon Valley.
Porat's new role as Google CFO resonated across the business industry for a number of reasons. Some commenters took her move as definitive proof of the tech sector's triumph over banking in the war for top talent. Others pointed out that Porat's move further thins the ranks of powerful women on Wall Street. Still others wondered whether Google poached Porat in order to bolster its relationships with banks as the tech giant makes forays into the world of financial services or if it wanted Porat in order to better compete with them.
Here's a roundup of smart, skeptical and sly observations raised by the Twitterati.
Financial advisor and CNBC host Josh Brown suggested that Wall Street can't hold a candle to the appeal of Silicon Valley:
You can't blame them for the exodus. In tech, there are no regulations and everything you invest in is automatically worth $9 billion.
Downtown Josh Brown (@ReformedBroker) March 24, 2015
Bloomberg View columnist Matt Levine compared the responsibilities of a CFO at Google and Morgan Stanley and discovered a clear winner:
Being CFO of Google seems like it would be fun. Being CFO of an investment bank seems basically terrifying.
Matt Levine (@matt_levine) March 24, 2015
That opinion was shared by Stone Street Advisors founder Jordan S. Terry:
@matt_levine CFO of an investment bank is up there on my list of worst jobs. Mike Rowe could do a whole episode of Dirty Jobs on it.
Jordan S. Terry (@The_Analyst) March 24, 2015
Pundits are already weighing in on how Porat's presence will influence Google. Analyst Colin Gillis told Bloomberg that Google needs her to keep a close eye on expenses, since the company is full of "people who want to pursue big ideas" by dipping into the company's large pocketbook. But risk analyst and The Black Swan author Nassim Nicholas Taleb suggested that the last thing Google needs is more corporate restraint:
The job of Wall Street is to replace the staff of every company that goes public with "professional" MBA-BSvending empty suits. @matt_levine
Nassim Nichol?Taleb (@nntaleb) March 24, 2015
Reuters' Peter Thal Larsen suggested that Google's dreams of usurping banks may have played a part in the company's choice of CFO. (Indeed, industry experts tell American Banker's Andy Peters that her experience in banking and finance was likely part of the draw.)
Let the speculation about Google's financial services ambitions begin. http://t.co/DHfyodvBoo
Peter Thal Larsen (@peter_tl) March 24, 2015
Meanwhile, Fusion's Kevin Roose considered the dearth of high-ranking women in banking and finance in the wake of Porat's departure.
Now that Ruth Porat is gone, who's the highest-ranking woman on Wall Street?
Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) March 24, 2015
Commenters named JPMorgan Chase CFO Marianne Lake and JPMorgan asset management chief Mary Callahan Erdoes as the powerful women now on Wall Street, prompting this observation from Bloomberg columnist Katie Benner:
katie benner (@ktbenner) March 24, 2015
And Reuters' Lauren Tara LaCapra suggested that sexism may have limited Porat's ability to rise further at Morgan Stanley.
Morgan Stanley insiders pooh-poohed the idea of Ruth Porat being CEO w/no real reason. Always suspected it was gender, given qualifications.
Lauren Tara LaCapra (@LaurenLaCapra) March 24, 2015