You’ve just been laid off from your job at a once mighty startup that was going to change the world. The New York Times has exposed your CEO’s fraudulent business model. Investors have freaked. The stock market is hemorrhaging. Your office keycard doesn’t work. What you do next is very important: go raid the merch closet.
By now, we’ve all seen enough rise-and-fall documentaries to know how this sort of thing plays out. First come layoffs, then lawsuits, and perhaps a prison sentence for bosses like Theranos’s Elizabeth Holmes or Enron’s Jeffrey Skilling. One thing we hear less about: the killer resale market that comes with an era-defining financial disaster.
Corny brand merch like T-shirts and mugs suddenly become hot collectibles. It’s all profit for disgruntled employees who acquired the office swag for free, or those in the industry who picked up complimentary items at conferences.
This happens fairly quickly: as the Wall Street journal reported, Silicon Valley Bank items hit eBay just a few days after the bank’s collapse. Coffee tumblers, blankets and cheese boards were all up for sale. The cheese board alone cost $200.
It’s a niche, but dedicated, market. One investor named Ted Aronson told the publication he had probably spent about $25,000 on financial memorabilia during his time in the field. Items like a Bernie Madoff portrait and an Enron code of ethics booklet decorate his Pennsylvania office.
Anna Sorokin, the so-called SoHo grifter, said she “ironically” purchased an FTX sweater to wear to a Christmas party last year. This week she also purchased an SVB hoodie for, as the Journal put it, her “growing collection of financial-disaster swag”.
Ready to make the great American tradition of failing upwards – until it all comes crashing down – a part of your brand? Here are our favorite items that honor fiascos the business world would rather forget. And yes, these prices are for real.
10) HQ T-shirt, $49.99
At its peak, the game-show-on-your-phone app had $100m and 2.3 million players. Fans had the chance to win anywhere between $11 and $25,000 if they answered the right question, with the cash supplies coming from the huge amount of VC funding poured into the company. The only question HQ couldn’t answer was how that business model was ever supposed to work.
9) WeWork mug, $499.99
“Always do what you love,” says the slogan from a company with a CEO who preached the solution to millennial burnout as in-office shuffleboard tables and kombucha on tap. For anyone missing the feeling of being imprisoned in a windowless office building where Foster the People is pumped into the toilets: these once ubiquitous mugs are now going for hundreds of dollars.
8) CNN+ notepad, $40
So it’s a news streaming service that has no live news but Jake Tapper’s getting a book club? I’ll pass, Mom.
7) Liz Truss letter, $1,200
The eBay notes for this say “selling on elderly gentleman’s behalf”, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the elderly gentleman in question is one Eli Truss, fallen on hard times after the becoming-prime-minister-for-six-weeks long con didn’t work out.
6) MoviePass card, $1,400
The seller of this $1,400 debit card makes clear in their listing that it “NO LONGER WORKS” but anyone who used MoviePass knows that it never did.
5) Lehman Brothers MTV baseball hat, $75
OK, sorry, this one we actually want. Why Lehman Brothers collaborated with MTV on a baseball hat is a mystery lost to the ages but the green-and-white pinstripe design is preppy Nolita dirtbag.
4) Gawker Media list T-shirt, $250
Gawker’s take on the once ubiquitous American Apparel Helvetica shopping bag lists the now defunct media company’s former brands. The eBay listing calls the T-shirt “rare”, as it was originally “only available to employees”, although considering how often the group fired all its employees only to rehire new ones a year later, that could be thousands of people.
3) Silicon Valley Bank box, $203.50
As the eBay seller wrote in their listing, they received their initial job offer letter in this box, a mere “one month before the bank blew up”. Presumably their pink slip came in a branded trash bag. Serious inquiries only, please: the seller “has to pay rent this month”.
2) FTX fortune cookie, $19.99
In a delicious bit of irony, the crypto giant FTX once paired with an ad agency to deliver branded fortune cookies to Chinese restaurants across the country. This one costs $20 and ominously reads, “You’re about to change your life forever.” Buyers, beware: you may be able to find one of your own for less. CoinDesk reported in December that many FTX fortune cookies were still being served by actual restaurant owners after the collapse.
1) $100 Theranos gift card, $10,000
This eBay seller received a $100 gift card to the phony blood-testing company Theranos during a tour of the company’s lab facility in Redwood City, California. Thankfully, they did not use it.
( Information from politico.com was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )