Goldman's Jim O'Neill Basically Laughs About Facebook Deal And Transparency

Jim O'Neill

Goldman Sachs’ Asset Management chief Jim O’Neill had a chat with the BBC about Facebook and mused over whether he was going to get in on the deal.

“That’s a very good question I’m asking that myself today,” O’Neill said about why the firm is investing half almost half a billion dollars of its own money and up to $1.5 billion of investors cash in Zuckerberg’s baby. “We individually have a chance of participating so I’m trying to decide whether I want to or not.”

By now he would have had to decide. On the one hand he is clearly still thinking about the days of 2000; on the other hand he, like everyone else, can see Facebook juggernaut exploding ever higher.

When interviewer Stephen Sackur said the deal reminded him of the days of the tech bubble, O’Neill said, “Half of me thinks exactly the same.”

But then he got back to the positive party line and explained that obviously the bank thinks Facebook is a very “attractive long term proposition… because advertising revenue growth is so strong and if you look at it and some other names in that space that are very popular, that has been the case.”

But perhaps the best part of the interview came at about 1 minute and 39 seconds in, when Sackur began to prod about whether this deal undermines the whole we’re-going-to-be-so-much-more-transparent-now jig in the wake of the Abacus scandal, to which O’Neill basically said: Evs.

Sackur: You’re supposed to now be committed to transparency, to accountability…

O’Neill: Big inhale and then, Pfffffttt…

He literally blew out his mouth like a horse – you know, when they breath out and their nostrils flare and their lips vibrate against each other? That noise.

Then he said,

What’s happening here with Facebook is similar to what our firm has done throughout its history… In terms of helping growth companies in the United States, going back to Ford; it was the case with Microsoft; it was the case with Apple. On that level it’s no different.

We are quite a paranoid crowd and given what we’ve gone through I would put it to you that we’ve made sure we’re doing all the right things before we approach the situation.

For more background on Jim O’Neill, see here >

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