When the regulators who took control of Silicon Valley Bank on Friday had to quickly find someone to run what remained of its businesses, they chose Tim Mayopoulos, a lawyer who had steered several banking and financial technology organizations through tough times.
Mr. Mayopoulous was Bank of America’s general counsel during the 2008 financial crisis. He left the bank that December and later became the chief executive of Fannie Mae, the government-controlled mortgage insurer. In 2019, he became president of Blend, a technology start-up that provides cloud computing services to banks. He also helped to untangle a mess at an online lending platform, Lending Club, by joining its board weeks after its chief executive was ousted.
“He is cool as a cucumber,” said Brian Brooks, a lawyer who has worked with Mr. Mayopoulos throughout his career, including as Fannie’s general counsel when Mr. Mayopoulos was its chief executive.
“Going through the financial crisis at Bank of America during all the crazy stuff that happened, he was the guy whose demeanor never changed,” Mr. Brooks said.
Many believe that Mr. Mayopoulos’s connections to venture capitalists will help him deal with whatever cleanup is necessary inside the bank, known as Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, which was created when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation took control of Silicon Valley Bank. But he may not hold the job for long — most likely just until the F.D.I.C. can sell it, whole or in pieces, or liquidate it. Regulators are still talking to interested buyers.
Mr. Mayopoulos will have to run the bank’s businesses, including its depository functions, while sifting through what’s left of the failed entity, looking for investments and loans that still have value, all under the watchful eyes of a board of directors appointed by the F.D.I.C.
“At this point, he just needs to run the normal operations of the bank until it’s going to be clear what’s going to happen with it,” said Roberto Robatto, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business.
“He probably has to make very conservative choices whenever issues arise,” Mr. Robatto said. “He needs to try to minimize risks going forward and make sure to protect the value of what’s left.”
The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, which had nearly $209 billion in assets at the end of last year, is the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history, and the largest since Washington Mutual imploded amid the 2008 financial crisis.
Silicon Valley Bank’s case resembles another bank that failed in 2008: IndyMac Bank, which was under the control of the F.D.I.C. for nine months, from July 2008 to March 2009, when a group of investors bought it and transformed it into OneWest Bank. Mr. Mayopoulos will most likely try to keep Silicon Valley Bank’s businesses in good enough shape that they appeal to buyers no matter how long a sale takes.
An F.D.I.C. spokesman said Mr. Mayopoulos’s name had been on a list, created as early as 2017, of “seasoned financial services professionals” who could be called on in circumstances when the agency needed to take over a bank and replace its management team.
Mr. Mayopoulos’s experience with tech start-ups and venture capital interests started in 2016, when he was still Fannie Mae’s chief executive; that year, he joined the board of Lending Club after its founder was caught lying to the company’s board and forced out.
Mr. Mayopoulos gained a deep understanding of the world of venture capital when he became president of Blend, said Hans Morris, a managing partner of the venture capital firm Nyca Partners and the board chairman of Lending Club.
“He bridges those three worlds — the political world, the financial world and the venture ecosystem,” Mr. Morris said. “He’s very good at taking a complex set of variables and facts and different interests, and sorting them into a solution.”