JPMorgan Adapts Steve Jobs' Playbook in Silicon Valley Expansion

Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 2.

Creativity is just connecting things, the visionary behind the Macintosh computer and the iPhone once observed.

It's true on several levels, not the least of which is practical: Bringing the creator's stroke of genius to the retail shelf usually requires connection with a financier.

That particular link is the motivation for JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) decision to open its first commercial banking office in Silicon Valley as CEO Jamie Dimon moves specialized middle-market bankers closer to growing client bases in industries from technology to energy and entertainment.

"The Bay area represents a growing and dynamic market and by investing in new locations and talent, we are reinforcing our dedication to the area," said Scott Geller, the managing director for the lender's specialized industries business. "We want our clients to have easy access to experienced local bankers with deep industry expertise." 

Middle-market lending, catering to companies with revenue from $20 million to $500 million a year, is an expanding business for Chase, which has added 30 service regions in the past seven years. In the third quarter alone, sales in the sector climbed 7.2% to $716 million, and Chase added 600 new clients.

Overall, revenue in regional markets where largest U.S. lender plans to expand has grown at an average 46% a year, reaching $351 million, since JPMorgan acquired Washington Mutual during the 2008 financial crisis. Executives have a long-term target of $1 billion.

By the end of this year, Chase will have added four commercial offices -- including the Palo Alto site -- just in California, for a total of 13. In 2015, the company ranked among the top 10 lenders in its share of the middle market in two of the state's biggest metro areas, San Francisco and San Diego.

"The technology industry is growing faster than the overall economy, and it is our firm's intent to be closer to more clients," Tim Sandel, who leads the middle-market technology business from Palo Alto, said in a statement. 

"As tech firms tackle the challenges of growing very quickly and expanding globally, they need access to experts" in fields from debt financing to investment banking and asset management, he added.

That need jibes with the assessment of the tech industry and the development of the Internet that Apple (AAPL) co-founder Steve Jobs gave Wired magazine in 1996, more than a decade after his ouster, and about a year before his return.

During that interview, the same one in which he suggested that creativity was a matter of connection, he predicted that the future of the Web -- which was still in its infancy and viewed largely as a medium for publishing and communications -- was in commerce.

"The best way to think of the Web is as a direct-to-customer distribution channel, whether it's for information or commerce," he said. "It bypasses all middlemen."

The past two decades of history, which saw the rise of Silicon Valley giants like Facebook (FB) and Google parent Alphabet (GOOG) , have proven him right.

EXCLUSIVE LOOK INSIDE: Apple and Facebook are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS charitable trust portfolio. Want to be alerted before he buys or sells the stocks? Learn more now.

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