As ‘Why I Left’ Letters Reach Meme Proportions, Startups Hope Goldman’s Moral Loss Is Their Gain

Letter make Lloyd sad.

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. Read More