Dear Goldman Sachs: Don’t Kill a Fly with a Sledgehammer

rumorsJust when you think that public relations-related stupidity has finally abated on Wall Street, you can count on one of the remaining investment houses (or are they “banks?”) to do something REALLY stupid.

First, AIG had their executive retreat even, which I blogged about long before all of Congress got itself all worked up about bonuses paid.  But now, here what the former Wall Street giant is doing:

They are suing a blogger because he says nasty things about them.  Yep.  I know you’ll read it again, so I’ll wait.

I used to counsel clients all the time to calibrate their responses to the threat or situation at hand, so let’s look at the facts.

According to the U.K.-based Telegraph:

The bank has instructed Wall Street law firm Chadbourne & Parke to pursue blogger Mike Morgan, warning him in a recent cease-and-desist letter that he may face legal action if he does not close down his website.

Florida-based Mr Morgan began a blog entitled “Facts about Goldman Sachs” – the web address for which is goldmansachs666.com – just a few weeks ago.

But this blogger is not stupid.  At the VERY top of his Web site, he lists the following disclaimer:

This website has NOT been approved by Goldman Sachs, nor does this website have any affiliation with Goldman Sachs. This website was designed to provide information about Goldman Sachs direct from the public, and NOT from Goldman Sachs’s marketing and public relations departments. You may find the Goldman Sachs website at www.goldmansachs.com.


Sure, the guy is honked off at Goldman.  So is everyone else who has seen their portfolios dwindle away.  And at Bear Stearns.  And at Lehman.  And at Morgan Stanley.  You would think that they are used to it.

When people all over the world have roundly criticized Wall Street for a variety of reasons, some valid and some not, why in hell would Goldman sue a blogger?  Isn’t there someone either insider Goldman or inside the law firm with an ounce of sense?  The talk should go something like this:

Goldman: We want this to stop!!! A blogger is saying unkind things about us.  Fiddlesticks!

Legal counsel: [insert Goldman name] – Bubbleleh, this guy is just some blogger.  But if he’s smart, he’ll leak our cease-and-desist letter to the outside and go from a nothing to Sampson fighting Goliath.

It took me about five minutes to do the research that the law firm should have done.  Here are the “influencer” facts on the anti-Goldman Web site:

  1. Technorati has not even indexed it yet.
  2. It’s Google page rank is 0/10.
  3. Quantcast?  “Not enough data to profile.”
  4. Alexa traffic rank?  2,651,391.  Just for a point of comparison, the traffic rank of THIS blog is two times better: 1,474,312.  Goldman’s is 36,323.

While this guy is clearly entitled to his opinion, he is the Web equivalent of a fly on an elephant’s rear end.

I’ve charted above what usually happens when an online rumor or attack Web site hits, but the most important part of all is the last part – you have to decide IF OR WHEN TO REACT. And hiring legal counsel to try to shut down a blog is about the stupidest thing you can do.  It’s killing a fly with a sledgehammer.

I guess the unanswered question of all of this, when Goldman is undergoing intense scrutiny and criticism from many more influential circles, why are they going after some little guy?  And thanks to Chadbourne & Parke, he is about to become a lot bigger.

Mark

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Comments

  1. Raquel Fuentes Says: April 12, 2009 at 6:28 am

    So of course, I had to go to Mike Morgan’s blog and read it. He’s not being kind, that’s for sure, but for Goldman to file a lawsuit is out of line. They got some bad PR advice. Maybe they’re trying to follow the music industry model, sue the heck out of all those “rogue” sites. But this is totally different because we’re talking freedom of speech, so I don’t think it’ll work. If anything it’ll bring more attention to the issue. And I hope they’re not using my taxpayer money to pay the law firm.

  2. Tarun Reddy Says: April 15, 2009 at 4:36 am

    Hey Mark,

    Mike Morgan has filed a lawsuit against Goldman Sachs regarding his website.

    Here’s a story about the lawsuit.

    https://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=104125

    My hunch is that Morgan will be allowed to keep his website.

    Tarun Reddy

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