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San José Spotlight
Silicon Valley Bank CEO leaves powerful board
By Joseph Geha,
Silicon Valley Bank President and CEO Greg Becker, who led the financial institution for more than a decade before its collapse on Friday, has resigned from the board of directors of Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
Laura Wilkinson, spokesperson for Silicon Valley Leadership Group, an influential advocacy organization for tech businesses, told San José Spotlight on Monday that Becker resigned from the board. She did not respond to questions about why he resigned and whether it was voluntary or at the request of the board. Becker was listed as a board member on the group’s website as recently as the weekend, and the website was updated to remove his profile on Monday following his resignation, Wilkinson said.
Ahmad Thomas, CEO of Silicon Valley Leadership Group, did not respond to requests for comment. Thomas issued a statement on the organization’s website Monday, applauding federal officials for “moving swiftly” to ensure that all depositors at Silicon Valley Bank would be able to access their funds.
Jed York, CEO of the San Francisco 49ers and current chair of Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s board, did not respond to requests for comment about Becker’s departure.
Becker, who could not be reached for comment, previously served as chair of the leadership group board from 2014 to 2017, according to his biography on the Silicon Valley Bank website.
The bank was facing a run late last week, as uncertainty about its solvency led depositors to pull money out faster than the bank could keep up.
Federal officials shut down the bank Friday, firing its leadership and putting it in the hands of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which created Silicon Valley Bridge Bank N.A. to replace Silicon Valley Bank and manage all commitments and obligations to serve customers.
Carl Guardino, the longtime former CEO of Silicon Valley Leadership Group, said Becker’s resignation from the board makes sense under bylaws that require board members to be an active head of a company or a leadership officer at a company.
“I’ve known, liked and respected Greg for at least the last 15 years. He is personally and professionally a wonderful human being and that makes this all the more devastating on a human level,” Guardino told San José Spotlight.
Guardino said the past several days have felt like a roller coaster, and the bank’s seizure by the government was a “gut punch” to the innovation and wine industries, as well as the hundreds of thousands of people employed in those sectors.
Becker is being scrutinized for selling roughly $3.6 million worth of Silicon Valley Bank stock through a trust in late February, just days before the bank disclosed it was trying to raise cash to offset major losses that led to the run. The stock sale had been put in motion about a month beforehand, however, according to CNBC .
Rep. Ro Khanna, who represents the region where the bank is headquartered and has spoken highly of the bank’s outsize role in supporting the tech sector, said “there should be a clawback” of the proceeds from that sale. San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan has also called for pulling back any stock sales by bank executives in the lead up to the collapse.
“Whatever his motives, and we should find out, that $3.6 million should go to depositors,” Khanna tweeted.
Becker has also been sued, along with Silicon Valley Bank itself, over allegations it hid critical information from shareholders about how the bank would be affected by rising interest rates, Reuters reports.
Guardino said while he couldn’t comment directly on the stock sale, he said the “buck stops” with the head of any company.
“When I was at the leadership group, I served as a CEO for probably 24 years. And my point of view as a CEO was always that when something went well, or when something went wrong, it was ultimately my responsibility,” Guardino said.
The Federal Reserve Board said Sunday it would protect all depositors of Silicon Valley Bank, and New York-based Signature Bank, which was shut down Sunday, allowing customers to access all their funds beyond the $250,000 insured by the FDIC.
Dozens of customers headed to the bank’s headquarters in Santa Clara Monday to pull their businesses’ money out, trying to circumvent long online wait times to wire money to other accounts and ensure they could make payroll.
Becker’s image and information is also missing this week from the executive council website for TechNet , a national advocacy organization for tech companies and other businesses in the “innovation economy.”
Becker’s biography said he served on TechNet’s executive council since 2016, and chaired it from 2020 through 2022. The organization did not respond to a request for comment.
Contact Joseph Geha at firstname.lastname@example.org or @josephgeha16 on Twitter.