Goldman Sachs found 4,000 “muppet” references in staff email—almost all of them about the movie

A wayward Goldman Sachs customer
A wayward Goldman Sachs customer
Image: Getty Images / Andrew Burton
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The Financial Times is reporting that Goldman Sachs has wrapped up its internal investigation into claims made by Greg Smith, who quit the firm in a bridge-burning New York Times op-ed. You’ll recall Smith’s most memorable claim: “Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as ‘muppets,’ sometimes over internal e-mail.”

Well, Goldman would like you to know that, yes, its employees email about muppets, but it’s not what it looks like! Per the FT:

Goldman responded by launching an investigation into what was nicknamed internally “the muppet hunt”. The investigators interviewed dozens of staff and sifted through millions of emails, finding about 4,000 “muppet” references. But they said 99 per cent of those referred to last year’s movie of the same name.

The investigation did apparently turn up one unequivocally disparaging “muppets” reference in an email by a Goldman salesperson: “The muppets don’t understand they can trade the futures through a block with other liquidity providers.” To me, that casual reference pretty much confirms the term was commonly known and used at the firm. Of course, the specific vernacular is a side show: Smith’s book is due out later this month, and obviously Goldman is attempting to get out ahead of other potentially damaging accusations.

Four thousand emails about the Muppets may seem like a lot, but remember that Goldman has about 35,000 employees, many of whom were clearly fans of last year’s movie. And in fairness, a search of my inbox alone turns up 171 mentions of “muppets”—oh, and five references to “shitty deal.”

What’s your Muppet Number? Let us know here.