Last week, RBS's Stamford trading floor lost power for about ten minutes. Many wondered what was going on, and with no official word from the bank, imaginations ran wild. Had someone kicked over some crucial cords? Was RBS going out of business? As is our wont, we printed a rumor from the inside about what had happened, a rumor which, in fact, turned out to be true. Someone had clogged a toilet on 7th floor and it leaked into a communications closet on 6th floor (trading). Before I get into what senior management's reaction was to that story, let's take a few moments to backtrack and offer a little color on how we got to this place.
Last April (of '09), we wrote about a food eating challenge taken up by a RBS Greenwich Capital analyst, who endeavored to consume 40 vending machine items in less than an hour, with $400 at stake. He ended up puking with moments to go, and couldn't find it in himself to rally. This event was attended by employees from top to bottom, including those much more senior than the analyst in question. We chronicled the contest, as we often do. About 10 minutes after our story went up, we were informed, "That kid just left the head of North America global banking's office (hi Mike!) and was told to go home." To that end, we were also told that RBS was fairly bent out of shape about the story appearing in the press, and while "there have always been plenty of those challenges here before, that was the first time it got out like that, and it never mattered when times were good. They're not happy with you." At this point I'd like to throw out some questions-- did we organize the event? Did we hold a gun to this kid's head and say 'shove these vending machine items in your mouth as quickly as possible or I shoot'? Don't answer yet, just marinate on those points and and we'll revisit them in a bit.
In December, we mentioned the firm's holiday party, which, given its manifold success, essentially consisted of rationed bags of generic-brand chips (one per group). The information was passed on to us by a fairly level-headed individual, one not prone to exaggeration, simply interested in sharing the truth. People were upset about it-- needed to laugh to cope with the pain!
In February, we wrote about a MD who'd been fired on account of the fact that he was embezzling money from the company, which left a bad taste in many a staff member's mouth. Because we occasionally like to exercise caution, we got this story confirmed, by RBS, before printing it. Still, there were some people who were not happy about the new shit coming to light. RBS had had enough. The aggression would not stand! A thinking man might reflect on the situation and realize that the anger at Dealbreaker was a tad misdirected, but please! We are talking about RBS here, where there is no place for rationale thought.
Later that month, we waxed poetic on the firm's kick-ass new building. Were we the ones who sanctimoniously wondered if anyone inhabiting the palace on I-95 should feel guilty about the fact that despite having 84 percent of its ass owned by the British government and being the recipient of a massive taxpayer bailout, the bank had shelled out the money to build one of the most enormous trading floor in the world, where employees needn’t leave headquarters to grab a massage, because they're provided on-site? Were we the ones who asked if the company ever consider “canceling the move in light of the bank’s problems,"? Were we the ones who compared RBS TO AIG? No, those honors go to the Gray Lady.
And over the course of the entire year, we've written a fair amount about the bank's method of compensating its employees (which at RBSGC includes base salaries for over two years, no bonus since March 2008 (for calendar 2007) and the next bonus coming...this June. It's unclear at this time if those will involve any cash, or simply a bunch of that sweet RBS debt). This information has been confirmed by many other outlets by this point, which some of whom are helpfully pointing out will lead to a "mini exodus" from the bank, as people have been planning to get the hell out of there once they get paid. I believe we've also mentioned the rampant ship-jumping of employees to another shop down the road, where every day isn't a trip to idiot island, and it's not necessary to fantasize about life that doesn't so closely resemble Hell.
And finally, we come back to the toilet clogging incident! I've been informed by many an irate employee this morning that the reaction by management to the leaking (you like that?) of the story was to officially ban Dealbreaker. Which, in the minds of the the Queen's bitches, is genius! We can't turn a profit to save our lives, the Queen's got a shiv up our asses, we haven't paid our employees jack in years, which has resulted in at least one of them simply helping himself to a bonus, we make Citi look good, and at this point we're literally up to our ears in shit. So, what then? Oh, oh wait, we've got it! We'll ban our people from reading a completely non-threatening website that merely tells the truth (most of the time). We don't want to, of course, because that place does have its charms. Pretty nifty with the Photoshop. Tells a great dick joke, and you know we love those. Etc. But it's got to be done. Because, other than the stories appearing on this corner of the internet, things have been going swimmingly for us. Yes, THIS is the thing that will ruin our reputation, not the incredibly impressive ass-bleeding, or the "damaging losses," or the amateur hour embezzlement, or the headlines like, "RBS Alone Among U.K. Rivals in Posting Quarterly Loss." No, no, it's THIS, this insidious Dealbreaker and that awful Bess Levin.
Okay. Now that I've regained my composure I'm going to give you an opportunity to think about how ridiculous this makes you look. Who do you want to emulate? The institutions that know how to make money and by no coincidence allow their employees to get on this shit, like Goldman and JPMorgan and the hedge funds down the road? Or do you want to proudly join the school of thought employed by the dearly departed Bear Stearns and the cat food eaters at Wachovia? We're taking care of your employees in ways you can't. Unblock us now and it'll be water off a duck's back.
If you don't I'll have no choice but to state the obvious, which is: two can play at this game. And to tell my darlings with whom a select few have attempted to cut off our communication: send us everything; all of the great RBS dirt you can. And do it with the kind of intelligence that is not rewarded at said firm, i.e., make sure it doesn't get your ass fired or hanged-drawn-and-quartered. The good (and not so good) people of RBS won't be able to read it all from their desks in the Pleasuredome, but everyone else will. Best story wins an extra-large bag of name-brand chips (your choice) for this year's Christmas extravaganza, courtesy of your friends right here at DealBreaker.