March 14, 2012
Two Lost Giants

Two mid-level executives recently left market- and sector-leading publicly traded companies and wrote controversial editorials about their decisions to leave.

Each editorial told a story of a blossoming career followed by a negative change in the corporate atmosphere. Each detailed the disenchantment that ensued and his attempts to reignite the passion for his career.

One made national headlines*, the other did not. One cost his former company, Goldman Sachs, about a billion dollars in valuation, the other barely made a ripple.

Nonetheless, James Whitaker’s revelations about Google represent a much greater long-term threat to his former company’s corporate fabric. Goldman’s corporate greed is reprehensible only because it is misdirected and at the expense of the firm’s clients. Otherwise, it would be tolerated (if not lauded). Although troubling, Smith’s editorial represents a leadership challenge rather than an existential threat. Goldman Sachs is no less proficient at making money than they were 10 years ago.

Google’s sacrifice of innovation at the altar of social (and Larry Page’s ego), however, puts in question it’s ability to compete with the scores of disruptive young companies challenging the search and social spaces (and Facebook) in the future.

Check out both and let me know what you think.

*sorry, topping Hacker News doesn’t qualify as ‘national headlines’ yet.

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