Corporate arrogance datapoints of the day

By Felix Salmon
June 8, 2010
John Carney notes that Goldman Sachs is being much quieter in response to the FCIC's subpoena than it was in April:

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John Carney notes that Goldman Sachs is being much quieter in response to the FCIC’s subpoena than it was in April:

The same afternoon that the SEC lawsuit became public, Goldman vowed to “vigorously” contest the SEC’s claims and described the lawsuit as “completely unfounded in law and fact.”

Back in April, this kind of combativeness was new for Goldman. It was followed shortly by chief executive Lloyd Blankfein saying that the firm’s longstanding strategy of not engaging with the public or responding to criticism was “probably a mistake.”

Has Goldman had second—or third—thoughts about its PR strategy?

Goldman’s response to the SEC’s suit was so blunt that it is believed to have angered regulators, pushing the two sides further apart and perhaps delaying a settlement. It was a gamble for Goldman and one that may have backfired.

The main difference between now and April, from a PR perspective, is that Goldman Sachs is now being advised by the so-called “master of disaster”, Mark Fabiani. And the fact is that if Goldman does nothing to extend the FCIC-subpoena into a second news cycle, this brief burst of bad publicity is likely to go away.

Still, as I said after the Fabiani news came out, the problem here is much deeper than public relations: it’s that arrogance and secrecy are in Goldman’s institutional bloodstream. Fabiani can’t control Goldman’s relations with the FCIC, any more than Brad Stone can control silly nastygrams from the NYT’s lawyers. But here’s some $3.99 reporting for you: Pulse is back on the iPad app store, and it still features the NYT news feed, and it still frames NYT web pages. Score this Apple 1-0 NYT. As Jonah Bloom has it:

The whole idea of trying to force people into certain media consumption habits seems futile in an era when technology has enabled people to consume whatever they want, however they want it.

Most of the strategy people at the NYT appreciate this. But lawyers are always a bit slow on the uptake.

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