Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Naughty, Naughty

DealBreaker is atwitter today about a 13-D letter filed recently by activist hedge fund Chapman Capital in its ongoing battle with Embarcadero Technologies, which Chapman wants to sell itself. In it, Chapman recounts a heated exchange with the company CFO in which the latter responded to certain aspersions cast by the former with a familiar idiomatic expression for an anatomically impossible feat (letter quoted via DealBreaker.com):
Furthermore, in response to certain comments made by Mr. Shahbazian during a conversation later that day, Mr. Chapman conveyed to Mr. Shahbazian Chapman Capital’s concern that, according to background checks directed by Chapman Capital, Mr. Shahbazian had been viewed negatively by various shareholders of Niku Corporation, ANDA Networks, Inc. and Walker Interactive, all of which in the past had employed Mr. Shahbazian in the capacity of Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Shahbazian reacted temperamentally to Mr. Chapman with the eloquent response, “Fuck you!” Mr. Chapman then forcefully informed Mr. Shahbazian that it was inappropriate and inadvisable for the Chief Financial Officer of a public company to utter such blasphemy to the advisor of a 9.3% ownership stakeholder in the Issuer.

DealBreaker gleefully notes that, to the best of its knowledge, this is the first time the "f-bomb" has been intentionally used in a filing with the SEC.

Reading the excerpt from Mr. Chapman's letter, we were shocked too, but not by the same phrase that caught DealBreaker's attention. What made us cringe was Mr. Chapman's use of the word "blasphemy" to describe Mr. Shahbazian's outburst. We turned, as is often our wont, to Merriam Webster to verify our gut reaction:

\[pronunciation stuff]\ noun pl -mies (13c)
1 a : the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God b : the act of claiming the attributes of deity
2 : irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable

Exactly who or what is Mr. Chapman implying requires reverence here? Is God the otherwise unnamed 9.3% stakeholder in Embarcadero? (Now there's a Limited Partner!) Or—heaven forfend—is Mr. Chapman suggesting that he himself is the victim of Mr. Shahbazian's blasphemy?

I am personally unfamiliar with Mr. Chapman's purportedly prodigious output of 13-D letters, which DealBreaker describes as "witty" and "literary," but I certainly hope that this one at least has been penned either (a) in great haste or (b) with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Otherwise, I think we need to notify the Booby Hatch men that they have another inmate for the Delusions of Grandeur Ward at Bellevue.

That Mr. Chapman might have a God complex should not necessarily surprise us. What with the explosion in the hedge fund industry to well over $1 trillion in assets under management and the reverse migration of hundreds of mediocre Wall Street traders to the leafy confines of Hedge Fund Central (Greenwich, CT), earning "2-and-20" is now considered among the hedgie set as prima facie evidence of your own Godhead. Should the oft-mentioned Liquidity Bubble ever burst, I am certain that Mr. Chapman would enjoy plenty of convivial company in the loony bin.

But perhaps I am being too hard on Mr. Chapman, and his malaprop was unintentional. In that case, I would diplomatically refer him to one of the earliest posts on this blog, "Mistakes." After all, I am sure a talented man like him does not want to be confused with one of those horrid investment bankers who does not know how to write good English.

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