Friday, April 2, 2010

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd "Doing God's Work" Blankfein

Here's what they should teach in CEO-101, a course every CEO should be required to take before starting the job: 

When you're CEO of a PUBLIC corporation, you are the PUBLIC face of that corporation and are required to speak with the PUBLIC. There's even a whole profession built around helping you to do that. It's called PUBLIC Relations.

Now, what should the PR pros at Goldman Sachs be preaching to Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd "Doing God's Work" Blankfein? Consider:

The PUBLIC widely blames Goldman for much of the financial meltdown that's knocking them out of their homes. The tax-paying PUBLIC bailed it out of a crisis. The PUBLIC widely believes it set up deals with trading partner AIG, then bet on AIG failing, then helped AIG fail, then worked out a back-door deal with lawmakers to use taxpayer money to keep AIG from dying so it could collect 100% of the money AIG owed it. 

That's a PUBLIC RELATIONS problem. You get where I'm going here?

Bloomberg Business Week's (Gawd, BBW; as a former BW reporter, I hate the overly detailed name) Roben Farzad wrote a nice cover article analyzing Goldman's position. Here's the short summary of that position:

Clients love the company. It reported a record profit last year. Every Stanford MBA student wants to work there. And among the PUBLIC, "the perception is that Goldman is the toxic epicenter of everything wrong with Wall Street. The firm's 32,000 employees are seen as an army of Gordon Gekkos."  And the PUBLIC tends to agree with U of Missouri law and economics professor William Black, who says, "Every game has a sucker, and in this case, the sucker was not so much AIG as it was the U.S. government and taxpayer." Because of PUBLIC perception, Goldman has become a Pariah in Washington D.C. The U.S. Justice Department keeps asking it for information about its actions. 

How did Goldman deal with all this? "For the past year, as its name was sullied, Goldman maintained a bunker strategy, largely fending off media inquiries," writes Farzad.

Farzad talked to a lot of executives at Goldman, who did a pretty good job of clearing up some misconceptions. But, gee, guess who turned down multiple requests for interviews with BBW?

Now, it's true that Blankfein needs a little PR aerobics training in order to keep his Italian leathers out of his mouth. The one time he did talk to the press, the London Times last November, he came out with the infamous quip about just being an evangelist for that great Capitalist in the sky, not realizing that the reporters might quote him.

You'd think that the CEO of a corporation that's too big to fail would be at least as trainable as a local TV news anchor. 

A CEO in hiding looks like a CEO with something to hide. If you really believe that Goldman did nothing wrong, Mr. Blankfein, take a lesson from John Kerry, who thought ignoring the Swift Boaters was the best way to deal false accusations.

Nine on the stupid meter.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Men who pee on power lines ... shouldn't

OK, this is the kind of thing that goes on Darwin lists of people who benefit the world by taking their genes out of the gene pool.

In Washington State, a man crashed his car into a power pole, wasn't seriously hurt, called relatives to help him get out of the ditch, then decides to relieve himself, and found out that water conducts electricity. The downed power line was in the ditch. Man Died.

Ouch. It shows the value of electronics shop in high school.

I'm surprised I have to explain this to you people.

Still, you gotta feel sorry for the guy. It was night. It was dark. It was in a ditch. Maybe he didn't see it. Still, I would've checked.

Is this for real? An AP reporter thinks so.

So I wondered how rare this is. Google has plenty of examples.

In 2008 a Polish tourist in London peed on an electric railway track. He died.

In a chat forum, someone recalls his or her father's story of three boys peeing off a bridge onto electric streetcars in L.A. in the 1930s. All died. A couple guys recall whizzing on electric fences when they were young. They didn't die.

Sorry, but this is a 10 on the stupid meter.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Judge Oscar Magi: No Internet in MY country!

Some people just don't get it. They want to treat Google as a "traditional" media company, because it publishes things made by non-media professionals. So it's supposed to edit and censor everything people put on its sites. Like this here column.

Italian Judge Oscar Magi says Google executives didn't take down an offensive posting fast enough. It was up for two months, but Google says it took it down two hours after being informed it was there.

The New York Times implies that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi may influence such attitudes because he's also Italy's biggest media mogul and does not want the competition.

Poor Italians.

So we're supposed to treat Google like any other media company? Let's see, traditional media companies may have a staff of a couple hundred professionals, all of whose work goes through editors and, if there's any question, the lawyers.

The stuff on Google's sites are produced by a couple billion non-professionals without sending it through any editing steps. These days, Google gets ONE BILLION YouTube postings a day.

Monitoring THAT will keep Sergey pretty busy!

I know! Maybe Judge Magi is counting on the AI supercomputer Google is hiding under the Slice cafe in building 40 on its Mountain View campus! It could fast-forward through all those videos and pull the offensive ones off immediately.

After a day of going through one billion amateur videos, the GoogleAISupercomputer, named Cal, was asked what he thought of that job. His response was, "Huh? Wha- ? Sorry, must've dozed off."

Judge Magi gets a seven on the stupid meter.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

San Francisco's Chris Daly: Save prisoners, not police!

San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly is worried about at least one of his constituencies: imprisoned criminals.

According to the SF Chronicle, he voted against an earthquake-safety bond measure because it will relocate the police from a seismically unsafe structure, but not prisoners.

"I care more about the people at the jail, the people who are there involuntarily, ... than I do about the rest of the people" at the police station, he said. And, added, "These are San Franciscans, my constituents..."

Sure, the prisons need to be upgraded as well, but when money is tight, can't we at least get started on the upgrades? And let's see, which part should we start with? Oh, yeah, let's save those prisoners who, after all, are there "involuntarily," as opposed to police and court workers, who are only there because they voluntarily choose to have a job there.

That's a four on the dumb meter.