Silicon Valley Bank Merchandise Pops Up on eBay Following Collapse
Silicon Valley Bank, a favorite bank for tech startups and Bay Area venture capitalists, closed down last week after startup founders pulled their money out of the bank and its stock price dropped 60% the previous day.
The story here isn't about big tech or finance, though. It's a familiar story about the morbid curiosity and collector's spirit that comes with a big business going under or making the news. Because, like clockwork, after SVB went down, people started selling branded products like cardboard boxes meant for new employee kits, wine tumblers, hats, and apparel on eBay for marked up prices, trying to capitalize on the meme-worthy moment and exclusivity.
Right now, there are listings for wine tumblers for $42, a cardboard box for $201 (that's with bids, mind you. That's not an asking price.), and a hat/tumbler combo currently listed at $70.69 (and climbing). There are also T-shirts being sold that were obviously designed for this exact moment, such as one that says "Silicon Valley Bank SVB Bank Run 2023" to look like a company charity run, but playing off the "Bank Run" motif; or a T-shirt supposedly from the bank's risk management department.
The box, which is the most expensive item available right now, supposedly comes from an offer-letter promotion sent to the recipient a month ago.
"Need to pay rent this month, please bid," the listing says.
So, why would people pay more than $200 for a cardboard box?
Well, for starters, no one else is going to have these items soon.
We've seen this happen before with FTX, Lehman Brothers, and Theranos. As soon as a company starts making the news or goes under, people want to own these products ironically. And, clearly, they're willing to spend money on them.
It's not the best way for a promotional product to retain value over time, but it's also better than ending up in a landfill, right?
There are lessons that distributors can take from this, too. People want to cash in on pop culture moments. It's in our modern, 21st Century, extremely-online DNA. We want to signify to others that we're up on all of the latest action and news, and that we have a sense of humor.
So, you can work with clients to create products that capture this idea. It's especially doable in the sports world, where soundbites or particularly epic moments can end up on T-shirts or other merchandise right away. Just be careful, though. Internet culture moves fast, and what's cool one day is old and boring the next. So, if you aren't fast enough, you could come off as trying too hard to connect with the youth.