Founded in 1869, Goldman Sachs is one of the largest financial services companies in the world. It employs 30,000 people in a global machine designed to make boatloads of money for its clients, or failing that, itself. Even though Goldman's own collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) helped create the global financial crisis, the investment giant received billions in taxpayer bailout funds [source: Taibbi].
Greg Smith worked for Goldman Sachs from 2000 to 2012 and witnessed the transformation of the venerable firm from a client-centered company to a profit-obsessed moral vacuum. Instead of quitting quietly, Smith chose to announce his resignation in a scorching opinion piece in The New York Times. In it, Smith called the environment at Goldman "as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it" and put the blame squarely on the top-rung leadership [source: Smith].
"Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence," Smith wrote.
Smith's public takedown of Goldman Sachs made a big splash, leading to a high-profile TV interview on "60 Minutes" and a book deal for "Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story." The book triggered a backlash against Smith, however, who critics labeled as a "disgruntled one-percenter" who was turned down by Goldman for a $1 million bonus [source: Rushe].