Money Men Book Summary - Money Men Book explained in key points
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Money Men summary

Dan McCrum

A Hot Startup, A Billion Dollar Fraud, A Fight for the Truth

4.4 (53 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

Money Men by Dan McCrum is an investigative journalism book that exposes how often financial fraud occurs and the power dynamics that allow it to continue, using the Wirecard scandal as a case study.

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    Money Men
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    Chapter 1: Wirecard’s shady origins offer a glimpse into what is to come.

    If anything, Wirecard was always a company with an outsized opinion of itself. And every “great” company has an even greater origin story. Wirecard’s humble beginnings center around three men with big ambitions and mammoth egos. And they give us a glimpse into the road ahead.

    It all begins on a flight between Munich and Berlin. The year is 1997, and a 40-year-old Paul Bauer-Schlichtegroll, with his perma-tan and designer jeans, strikes up a conversation with a photographer for the American porn magazine, Hustler. And just like that, the connection is made. Bauer-Schlichtegroll is soon off to Beverly Hills to acquire the magazine’s German publishing rights.

    But it doesn’t take him long to realize the real future is online porn – if there was only a way to charge for it. So, he switches gears, establishing a new company that can take direct debit payments over dial-up internet. Soon after, a competitor goes bust. He buys it for parts but keeps the name: Wirecard.

    In no time, Wirecard moves into another shady internet business: online gambling. In the early 2000s, many countries were still drafting regulations for the industry, while others had already banned it. Banks preferred to avoid this gray area, refusing any payments that used the online gambling code 7995.

    Not to be discouraged, Wirecard finds a way around this 4-digit problem, first by creating a third-party wallet that’s used to load funds at digital casinos. Then later, by simply swapping the 4-digit code for a different one whenever the payment is rejected.

    At this point, Paul Bauer-Schlichtegroll is itching to cash out. Maybe he can see the writing on the wall. Preferring to cut corners, he avoids an expensive and scrutinizing Initial Public Offering process, or IPO, by orchestrating what’s known as a reverse takeover. Wirecard buys a defunct company for peanuts that already went through an IPO, et voilà! In 2004, Wirecard goes public, and Bauer-Schlichtegroll bows out.

    Two other men become instrumental in taking this now public company into its bright future. Dr. Markus Braun is hired as CEO, a self-serious Austrian with a penchant for wearing black turtlenecks in the style of his contemporary, Steve Jobs.

    The other is one of Wirecard’s earliest employees, Jan Marsalek, hired in his teens as Chief Technology Officer. Also Austrian, Marsalek is a confident go-getter who runs the IT department in the basement. The only problem is that the electronic payments system he spent years coding never worked. It was junk.

    The two Austrians have to work together to find a solution and save their company.

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    What is Money Men about?

    Money Men (2022) is the astonishing story of the rise and fall of Wirecard. Once described as the PayPal of Europe, it took a small group of analysts, whistleblowers, and the tenacity of one journalist to finally bring this house of cards down.

    Money Men Review

    Money Men (2022) is an eye-opening exploration of the deceptive practices within the financial industry that will leave readers questioning the system. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It uncovers real-life stories of financial misconduct, exposing the greed and corruption that permeates the industry.
    • With its meticulous research and in-depth analysis, the book offers a comprehensive understanding of the inner workings of the financial world.
    • Demystifying complex concepts in an accessible manner, it empowers readers to make informed decisions and protect their financial well-being.

    Who should read Money Men?

    • Financial crime die-hards
    • Lovers of all things stranger-than-fiction
    • Cautious investors

    About the Author

    Dan McCrum is a British journalist with the Financial Times. He has been recognized with numerous awards and prizes for his reporting on Wirecard. He was named Journalist of the Year in 2020 by the British Journalism Awards.

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    Money Men FAQs 

    What is the main message of Money Men?

    The main message of Money Men is the dangerous influence of the financial industry on society.

    How long does it take to read Money Men?

    The reading time for Money Men varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Money Men a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Money Men is worth reading as it reveals the hidden workings of the finance sector and its impact on our lives.

    Who is the author of Money Men?

    The author of Money Men is Dan McCrum.

    What to read after Money Men?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Money Men, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • 7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness by Jim Rohn
    • Israel by Daniel Gordis
    • Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker
    • American Prometheus by Kai Bird & Martin J Sherwin