Goldman Employees Blocked From Facebook Said to Get Tutorial

Now that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has invested $450 million in social-networking company Facebook Inc. it wants to make sure employees know how the website works.

They got a lesson yesterday from David Ebersman, Facebook’s chief financial officer, who walked members of the bank’s private wealth-management group through the basics during a presentation at Goldman Sachs’s San Francisco office, according to a person who listened in and asked not to be identified because the meeting was private.

Goldman Sachs, which discourages its employees from using social-networking sites at work, invested $450 million in Palo Alto, California-based Facebook, according to three people familiar with the matter. The private-wealth unit is planning to create a special-purpose vehicle for its clients to make additional investments worth as much as $1.5 billion.

The bank’s investment in a company whose product it disfavors is “amusing,” though it makes sense, said Steven Neil Kaplan, a professor of entrepreneurship and finance at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. “When you work, you work,” he said.

At the session, which was transmitted to other Goldman Sachs offices by video and phone, employees learned how to explain Facebook to their older clients, or to understand it themselves, according to the person who listened in. Ebersman, who became CFO in June 2009, used a mock-up of the site during the presentation, not a live version, the person said.

‘Logged and Audited’

Goldman Sachs employees receive a warning when they try to log onto Facebook at work. The message says that “access to this site is logged and audited” and that usage at the New York-based firm is restricted to “legitimate business.”

Ebersman told his Goldman Sachs audience that he became convinced Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, 26, was onto something when he watched his own daughters look through their yearbooks and tell him how much they enjoyed seeing photos of their friends, the person said. He also joked about seeing targeted hair-loss ads on the site.

Stephen Cohen, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, declined to comment. Ebersman didn’t immediately return two e-mail messages.

On his Facebook page, Ebersman says he was a member of the Class of 1991 at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He lists Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” as two of his favorite books.

To contact the reporter on this story: Max Abelson in New York at mabelson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net

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