Major Wall Street Journal article about Mark Gerson ’94.

At some point, we need to create a collection of all the WSJ “dot” portraits of Ephs. The article opens with:

Marlin Kilgore’s day job is purchasing parts for Penske Truck Leasing Co. in Memphis, Tenn. His second job, which pays $100 an hour, is to answer questions from hedge funds and other big investors about the truck-parts makers he buys from.

The investors interrogate the 36-year-old maintenance manager about the pricing and availability of parts, about how long they last, about how the warranties work and how often they are used. What they are after is intelligence about publicly traded parts makers such as Federal-Mogul Corp., ArvinMeritor Inc. and Exide Technologies.

Mr. Kilgore’s moonlighting job is the creation of Mark Gerson, a New York networking wizard who has done for professional investors something akin to what has done for the nation’s singles. He hooks up current and former middle managers from hundreds of companies with professional investors desperate for an investing edge. Mr. Gerson has assembled an army of 180,000 “consultants” from companies ranging from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. to New York Times Co., and he sells their time for top dollar.

Two things have made Mr. Gerson’s network both successful and controversial: Some of his consultants dish to investors without the knowledge of their bosses, sometimes in violation of their employers’ policies. And they are doing so at a time when federal regulators have made executives at public companies gun-shy about talking shop privately with big investors

Whole article is a fun read. See here for my take on Gerson’s company, Gerson Lehrman Group. I claim that GLG serves an important function.

Investors want information. They are willing to pay for it. Doctors (and other technical experts) have information. They are willing to sell it. GLG and other firms bring the two together. Now, obviously, if a doctor has signed a contract promising not to reveal information about X, then she had better uphold the contract. Otherwise, she could be in a world of trouble. But doctors (and nurses and even the patients themselves) who have not signed such contracts have useful information.

The markets appetite for such information is insatiable. Kudos to Gerson and others for providing such an important service. The more information available, the more efficiently our capital markets will operate. The more efficiently our capital markets operate, the more quickly we will all grow rich.

I liked this part of the article.

Mr. Gerson, who has never married, seems unsuited to the business of matchmaking. His friends describe him as socially awkward. “He’s intensely serious,” says Roger Hertog, vice chairman of AllianceBernstein Corp., who has served with Mr. Gerson on the board of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. Newark’s Democratic mayor, Cory Booker, became a fast friend of Mr. Gerson at Yale Law School. While praising Mr. Gerson’s philanthropic and professional accomplishments, he says: “He’s a little peculiar, but I relish his strangeness.”

Mr. Gerson approaches the activity of meeting people and introducing them to one another methodically and indefatigably. “Mark is the most successful networker I’ve ever met in my life,” says Ed Nicoll, the chief executive of broker Instinet and an early Gerson investor.

“The Internet has changed connectedness,” Mr. Gerson observes, enabling “people like me to become connected at young ages.”

Indeed. I just got an e-mail from a member of the class of 2011 (deferred from 2009) looking for information about summer internships. All Ephs should follow Gerson’s lead. The more networking you do, the better off you will be. Heading to Cambridge anytime soon? Drop by. Lunch is on me. We socially awkward types make for fun mealtime conversation. Really!

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