As the downturn begins to bite, several Wall Street firms are pulling in their horns by taking advantage of a radical new design in office furniture and IT software recently brought to the market by a former investment banker who was laid-off last year (see pictures to the right).
Nigel Thorne lost his job on Wall Street last September, and was so hard-up he was forced to live for a while in a cardboard box close to the Brooklyn Bridge. He came up with the idea that has captured the imagination of Wall Street executives during a period when he was literally forced to live hand-to-mouth, often scavenging for food with some of New York's most disadvantaged. 'I really learned a lot about myself during the few weeks I was homeless', Thorne said. 'I met some wonderful people, folks who, through no fault of their own, had fallen on hard times. They took me in and became my friends'.
The former banker says that he actually came up with his new office design concept after seeing how the homeless adapted to their new circumstances and used their wits to make the best of their difficult situations. 'It suddenly came to me after a busy day picking the pockets of tourists near where I used to work on the Street', he says. 'Why wait until things get really bad before you get the cardboard out ? Things have become really tough on Wall Street recently. My new design will help keep costs down, and hopefully will enable some people to keep their jobs. But, if bankers are still unfortunate enough to lose their jobs, at least it won't be so much of a culture shock if they end up living in a cardboard box. I have learned recently that every cloud has a silver lining'.
Thorne successfully floated his company on NASDAQ last month, and is now a multi-billionaire. 'It's a great story, isn't it ?', he says. 'It just goes to show that, no matter how tough times become, you can always overcome adversity if you apply yourself and seize opportunities as they present themselves'. And what about his new-found friends ? Has Thorne been able to do something to alleviate their problems ? 'Oh no', he says. 'They're losers. People like that have to drag themselves up by their own bootstraps. It wouldn't do them any good just freeloading off me'.
But all is not rosy in the new Thorne world, however, as a group of down-and-outs filed a lawsuit Tuesday in the US District Court in Manhattan, alleging that the banker ruthlessly befriended them, claimed that he would make them rich beyond their wildest dreams and then ripped off all their ideas. When asked to comment on the lawsuit, Thorne smiled and retorted: 'See, I told you they were losers!'.
Please note that this article does not mean to imply that all homeless people are pick-pockets. This statement does not apply, however, to homeless ex-investment bankers.