The Economist last week recalled a vivid description by Rolling Stone of Goldman Sachs: "a great vampire squid" that likes to stick its "blood funnel" into anything that can make it money. So given all of the advantages that Facebook has, why would a smart guy like Mark Zuckerberg subject himself to a bleeding by the many tentacled machine of Wall Street?
Maybe Zuckerberg knows that there are bad guys in the world and bringing in the firm that is the best at aggressively pursuing its own self interest will equip Facebook to fend off the other bad guys. In essence, a deal with the devil. Who are the these bad guys? One of Facebook's biggest shareholders is Digital Sky Technologies (DST), the firm of Alisher Usmanov, a Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. Even executives with ten times Zuckerberg's experience would be worried when considering how to control DST. With Goldman at the table could the dynamics of the relationship between Zuck and the Russians be improved?
If that is not enough incentive, there could be a bigger one right here in the USA. Goldman Sachs may be good at the things it talks about on its web site, but they really shine when it comes to manipulating our government. And Facebook needs all the help they can get controlling the US government. Twitter disclosed last week that the government had requested access to data on Julian Assange and people associated with him. To Twitter's credit they chose to disclose this request to the public. We can be sure that similar letters were sent to Facebook, Google, and other service providers. But we did not hear a word about those.
It is a little spooky thinking about government agencies combing through Facebook data, but we can be pretty sure that Facebook's nearly 600 million users, their relationships with other users, and all of the interactions between them must be irresistible to our many law enforcement and counter terrorism groups. I know that if I had to figure out how to deal with the FBI or CIA, not to mention the SEC, having Goldman's muscle to back me up would be quite welcome.
Could Blackwater or Halliburton be next?