Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith publicly resigned from his position at the company last week with a blistering diatribe published as a New York Times Op-Ed piece. The piece quickly went viral as it was posted across the various social networks.
Goldman Sachs, being one of the world’s largest and most recognized investment-banking firms, was openly criticized in the letter as becoming a toxic, immoral workplace that mistreats its clients and is concerned only with its own interests. Smith explains how he feels the culture has changed for the worse at Goldman Sachs:
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the junior analyst sitting quietly in the corner of the room hearing about ‘muppets,’ ‘ripping eyeballs out’ and ‘getting paid’ doesn’t exactly turn into a model citizen”
With an executive from a company that so many have a financial tie to (in a suffering economy mind you) quits in such a public, vehement manner; it isn’t surprising that it would cause a commotion among the people. In the past, this Op-Ed may not have made it past the educated elite working in finance. However, we are in a digital age now and information is not only more accessible, it can have a life of its own, spreading virally from person to person until it becomes rather difficult to miss. Needless to say, the resignation letter was a PR disaster for Goldman Sachs.
Why it Went Viral
- $$$: It concerns the people. Goldman Sachs is well-recognized firm which many people can tie their finances to. With the world economy under duress, awareness of issues about economics and finance are ever more prevalent. The integrity of such a firm can really impact the people, and in this case they were accused of weaseling money from them.
- Language of Goldman Sachs: Goldman Sachs is represented as a bad guy of the letter and the people as helpless victims. Smith claims the employees go on “elephant hunts” against the clients who are merely “muppets” in their eyes. It isn’t surprising that Big Corporations Don’t Care About You, but I’m sure people were still taken aback by it just the same.
- Emotion and Empathy: Many people can relate to a bad experience with work that makes them want to quit. Quitting in the way that Smith did is an emotionally driven act that people can empathize with.
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The Effect of Viral
Perhaps the most astounding part of the Greg Smith resignation letter was what occurred as a result of it going viral. As a direct result of the Op-Ed’s circulation, Goldman Sachs dropped 3.4 percent resulting in a loss of $2.2 billion for the company. Although, Goldman Sachs seems to be handling the incident well and the effects of it are likely “short-lived”, it is still unbelievable to consider what an effect it did have.