Is Goldman Sachs Exit Letter a Boon to Startups?

Susan Hall

The "Why I Left" letter by the Goldman Sachs exec that's creating such a stir also is spawning its share of comedy - this Darth Vader spoof being my personal favorite:

The Empire today has become too much about shortcuts and not enough about remote strangulation. It just doesn't feel right to me anymore.

Though letter writer Greg Smith says that the culture over time grew more "toxic," calling out top leadership for allowing a moral decline, Fred Destin of Open Source Venture Capital seems incredulous that it took Smith 13 years to figure out what investment banks do. (Destin left after seven years.)


Also citing former Google engineering director James Whittaker's exit letter, decrying the company's change of focus from innovation to advertising, and BetaBeat declares the exit-letter genre has reached "meme proportions." It suggests that Smith's 2,500-word explosion of righteous indignation could feed right into the recruiting strategy for New York City tech startups, a transition that's already well under way.


The Psychology Today article "How to Lead the Millennial Generation" suggests how startups might use this to their advantage, words of wisdom for any employer, for employees of any age really:

Importantly, Millennials are idealistic and have a strong sense of what they want their leaders to be. In short, they want their leaders to be heroes (superhero movies are box-office winners with Millennials), who have integrity, and a sense of fairness and concern for employees.

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