If there were a more visual element (perhaps a honey badger or LOLcat) attached to the “Why I Left Company X” genre, the meme would already be cresting to the top of BuzzFeed. Former TechCrunch employees may have thought they had the art of the bomb-throwing exit letter on lockdown, but over the last couple days, they’ve been bested by the their more corporate brethren.
Yesterday, Google’s former engineering director James Whittaker accused the once-great innovation lab of devolving into an advertising machine. And today Goldman Sachs former executive director Greg Smith issued the most damning sayonara since Jerry McGuire. He started by decrying the toxic, profit-hungry culture, then revealed Goldman’s pet name for clients (“muppets”), before going on to level charges of widespread “moral bankruptcy.”
Those missives quickly spawned a parody (“Why I Am Leaving the Empire, by Darth Vader“) and a spin-off (Mr. Smith’s former intern at Goldman tried to jump into the fray.) Both “Greg Smith” and “Goldman Sachs” are already trending topics on Twitter.
The startup world—which never shies away from the world-changing rhetoric, even when it’s being used to shill for American Express—couldn’t have dreamed up a better recruiting strategy than Mr. Smith’s 2,500-word explosion of righteous indignation.
Tumblr President John Maloney wasted no time tweeting it out to potential new hires:
Wall Street engineers – if that GS resignation letter speaks to you then just quit and join this booming magical NYC tech startup community
— John Maloney (@JohnMaloney) March 14, 2012
One new Tumblr engineer let him know that he’d already gotten the memo:
Buzzfeed’s own Ben Smith noticed how quickly startups were glomming on to coopt the rage to their advantage:
Dan Frommer wondered how quickly the VCs would pull their checkbooks:
“Why I Quit Google/Goldman” form letter generator startup raises seed round in 3, 2…
— Dan Frommer (@fromedome) March 14, 2012
To be fair, New York startups have been using the finance sector’s moral decline as a recruiting tactic since well before Occupy Wall Street. This just codifies it—and gives them a URL to point to during an interview. In the end, Betabeat is more inclined to take Anthony De Rosa’s view on things:
Goldman made insane profits while the economy melted down, but a resignation letter got your attention?
— Anthony De Rosa (@AntDeRosa) March 14, 2012
Of course, we’d hasten to add an asterisk about Goldman’s role in ushering in that meltdown in the first place.