Former Trump advisor Gary Cohn, who jjoined the board of Machine Zone Inc., is seen during an event. (Bloomberg: Peter Foley/Pool via Bloomberg)

Gary Cohn Joins Silicon Valley But Keeps His Wall Street Suit On

(Bloomberg) -- Gary Cohn may have quit Wall Street and the White House for Silicon Valley, but it seems his fashion sense remains unchanged.

Cohn, who joined the board of mobile-gaming company Machine Zone Inc., still wears his Wall Street and White House-style suits when he’s at the company, despite the industry’s hoodie-centric lifestyle, Chief Executive Officer Kristen Garcia Dumont said in a phone interview.

“He didn’t try to fake it,” she said.

Dumont met Cohn five years ago, she said, when he was president at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. They became friends, even though her company, the maker of “Game of War” and “Mobile Strike” -- which are pitched by Kate Upton and Arnold Schwarzenegger -- ultimately raised money through JPMorgan Chase & Co.

In 2015, Machine Zone was said to be gauging interest from investors in a new round of funding that would value the company at $6 billion. In December, Machine Zone said it hired Wells Fargo head of internet investment banking Dan Nash as chief financial officer. Cohn joined the board of blockchain startup Spring Labs in October.

When Dumont met Cohn, he was “a big player in Silicon Valley,” and now pays attention to high-growth industries, she said. He’s looking for opportunities with companies at the top of their game, and was drawn to MZ because it’s positioned at the intersection of tech and gaming, she said. Cohn didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Though MZ is based in left-leaning Northern California, the company hasn’t gotten any blow-back for hiring a former Trump administration official, Dumont said. Cohn quit the White House in March amid a dispute over tariffs, though he’d appeared on the verge of leaving in August 2017, in the aftermath of violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, between white supremacists and counter-protesters.

“We work hard to make Machine Zone a no-politics zone,” Dumont said, and the company encourages global and political civility and collaboration among those who play its games.

Asked if the company is contemplating going public, Dumont said “a path to the capital markets would be exciting,” but is “premature.”

While MZ may be considered a Silicon Valley “unicorn,” Dumont herself may be an even more rare creature: a woman heading a gaming-focused tech company, which she compares to “trying to find a spotted unicorn.” She suggests being “intentional” about adding more women as a way to boost participation -- and offers another tip for women: “Man, you’ve got to develop a thick skin.”

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