Vampire Squid tweets from the shallows
Stephen Foley is a former Associate Business Editor of The Independent, based in New York. He left in August 2012. In a decade at the paper, he covered personal finance, the UK stock market and the pharmaceuticals industry, and had also been the Business section's share tipster. Between arriving with three suitcases in Manhattan in January 2006 and his departure, he witnessed and reported on a great economic boom turning spectacularly to bust. In March 2009, he was named Business and Finance Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards.
Thursday 07 June 2012
Breaking news on Goldman Sachs: a space shuttle is floating past the bank's Manhattan headquarters.
The fact that employees rushed to the windows of their lavish Financial District offices to see the Enterprise travelling to its new home may not be the sort of insight into the bank's inner workings that people expected when they signed up to follow Goldman Sachs on Twitter.
But it is typical of the nuggets served up so far, two weeks and 24 tweets after Goldman joined the social media revolution. The arrival of the Vampire Squid on Twitter created a Bieberesque frenzy in the financial world, and more than 13,000 people signed up as followers, most of those within the first few days.
What they have learned so far is that it is very interesting round the headquarters building. As well as the sighting of the Enterprise on its way to the Intrepid Museum, Goldman has tweeted that "the area around our headquarters in Battery Park continues to thrive", and advising followers to check out the luxury Conrad Hotel. The New York Times architecture critic also gets a re-tweet for his review of a glass canopy over a nearby street.
Not a word, so far, on credit default swaps or structured finance or CDOs, MBSs, CDSs or any of the other acronymic weapons of mass destruction that have been manufactured inside Goldman, just a happy ship of window-gawping employees, delighted neighbours and "overwhelmingly supportive" shareholders.
Meanwhile, people arriving from Mars and stumbling across the bank's Twitter stream could be forgiven for thinking that Goldman is a non-profit organisation in the mould of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
"Business in the Community in the UK recognises GS for the impact and innovation of its 10K Women program," reads one tweet about its work to promote women's equality in the developing world and female-run businesses in the West. There are 140-character blasts on Goldman's investment in green technology and advice to small businesses, and also a re-tweet for the organisation God's Love We Deliver, which brings meals and gifts to the seriously ill. "Another fantastic day with the volunteers from @GoldmanSachs," it reads.
On Twitter at least, Goldman seems to be doing precisely what its chief executive Lloyd Blankfein said it was: God's work.
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