Reactions to Greg Smith’s censure of the “new” Goldman Sachs have fallen into a few categories. Some went the funny route, like The Borowitz Report, which joked that only the “finest sociopaths” work at the firm and “announced” that LRA leader Joesph Kony would be replacing Smith. Darth Vader announced he was leaving the Empire. And Don Draper explained why he’s quitting cigarettes.
Some tried to show a little sympathy for Richard Siewert Jr., who only just started his job as the head of comms at Goldman and is already up to his eyeballs. A lengthy memo went out from Goldman execs Lloyd Blankfein and Gary Cohen (we wouldn’t be surprised if Siewert had a look at it), that gets credit from Dukas PR CEO Richard Dukas for being a measure better than the initial statement.
We wondered whether this would have a big impact on the financial powerhouse’s reputation. Certainly, it’s bad to be known as a group of client-bashing, self-serving, unscrupulous money hoarders. Seriously, they need to work on that.
But, the fact is, Goldman, in many ways, didn’t have far to fall. For many, the Goldman Sachs described in Smith’s article is the one that they expected. Of course, they’re greedy! Yeah, they trash talk clients! Sure, they’ll cut corners with everyone’s money as long as their bank accounts are getting fatter! And what?
The interesting part is how many people turned to Smith wondering why it took him 12 years with the firm to figure all of this out. How bright is he that he didn’t see this from a long way back?
Business Insider jumped to Smith’s defense. The Wall Street Journal calls Smith’s claims “too neat” and expresses deep skepticism. People are correct for digging a little deeper into the credibility of the source of this piece. But it’s kind of crazy that someone would put it all on the line to say what we’d all been thinking and his good sense gets questioned so vigorously.
At this point, Goldman got a lot of free crisis and reputation advice from this little episode, including an entire live chat in The Wall Street Journal on crisis comms with Robert Dilenschneider, founder of The Dilenschneider Group. The company would be well-advised to put it to good use. Goldman lost more than $2 billion in market value as of this morning.