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What Is It With Goldman Sachs and Voicemail?

Goldman Sachs
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Goldman Sachs

The disclosure by Lloyd Blankfein that he rarely uses email, preferring to check the daily profits and losses at Goldman Sachs over voicemail, is a reminder that at the highest levels, Goldman is still a “voicemail” shop.

Former CEO Hank Paulson once told Fortune that he had never used email. Instead, he sent and received hundreds of voicemails a day. He was famous for returning almost every call that came through to his office.

As almost anyone who has worked in an office knows, voicemail is a seriously time-consuming way to communicate. It takes far more time to review voicemails than read emails, and the response time is slower as well.

But voicemails do have one advantage: They're much harder for regulators, historians or outsiders to track. Many voicemail systems automatically delete messages after a set period of time. It’s also far harder to forward voicemails to outsiders than it is to forward an email.

I find something almost creepy about the way Goldman Sachs CEOs avoid emails. Is it just that they're a bunch of Luddites trapped in 1992? Or is it that they they worry too much—naturally raising the question, what are they worried about other people discovering?

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