Last week, we wrote about a damning example of regulatory capture that occurred at a conference at Stanford Law School on March 5. In the Q&A session, the SEC’s head of examinations, Andrew Bowden, threw a big bouquet at an industry he oversees, private equity, repeatedly calling it “the greatest,” praising its returns, and saying that he’s told his son that he’d really do well to get a job in private equity.
Less than 36 hours after we’d published the video clip, Stanford had removed the conference video from its site. As the person who alerted me remarked, “Very unacademic conduct–as soon as criticism is received, to hide.”
We wrote about how the full video had disappeared and posted our copy on YouTube within 12 hours. We also asked readers to contact Stanford for an explanation. Reader Balaji sent us the e-mail reply he received Friday from Sabrina Johnson at Stanford Law:
Dean Magill forwarded your email to me. Thanks for checking in with us about this. This video was temporarily taken down due to the fact that it was a raw, live-stream version that hadn’t been cleaned up. The updated version will not edit out any of the conversation; it will simply include our title card and description as we do with all of our event videos. We are happy to send you the link when it’s posted early next week.
This response nevertheless fails to answer why the video was removed at all, since the original version had been up for two weeks and was therefore apparently acceptable as an interim record.
To its credit, Stanford did follow up with Balaji on Monday afternoon:
As promised, here are the links to the three video segments of the event The Silicon Valley Initiative: Emerging Regulatory Issues in Private Equity, Venture Capital, and Capital Formation. The video with Andrew Bowden was Private Equity and Venture Capital Regulation Since Dodd-Frank: A Dialogue on How It’s Working and Lessons Learned.
Discussion | Keynote Remarks from SEC Commissioner Kara Stein
Discussion | The New Frontier in Raising Capital After the JOBS Act
Discussion | Private Equity and Venture Capital Regulation Since Dodd-Frank
Note that the three videos together come in at only a bit more than half the time of the raw version, which you can see here. That’s because the original contained a lot of non-presentation milling time. For instance, if you look at our unedited copy, you’ll see it starts with an empty conference room and records the 46-47 minutes while the room fills up. It also records the room between sessions, when the panelists were still near the mikes engaged in discussion. I only listened to the first 7 minutes or so of the break after the panel with Andrew Bowden, and due to the din in the room, you could only hear the occasional phrase by a panelist whose voice you remembered from the session proper. I intend to play the entire section, since the crowd in the room did appear to be thinning out as more went to the reception outside the conference room, so it is remotely possible something of interest was in the excised part. However, the Bowden clip we flagged is in the Stanford segment, at at around 1:09:15. And the overall time of that segment is the same as the length of the original absent the pre-panel portion. So Stanford looks to be as good as their word in terms of not removing any content from the panels.
Now it may well be that Stanford Law School would have released the prettied-up videos whether or not we had republished the raw feed that they had removed; we’ll never know. But as Bill Black pointed out by e-mail, we left them with no option: “You’ve embarrassed them so badly that they’re in full scale retreat.”