Photograph by Colin Anderson/Brand X Images/Getty Images

Big Exit: Burning Bridges Through History

  1. Quitting in Style
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    Quitting in Style

    For some who are on the way out the door, there's no holding back. Ex-Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith's eye-opening column in the New York Times on March 14 is just the latest example. Smith claimed the bank no longer puts customer interests first: "Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence," Smith wrote. (The bank later responded.) What follows are some other famous examples of people who went out with a bang.

    Photograph by Colin Anderson/Brand X Images/Getty Images
  2. Greg Smith, Goldman Sachs
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    Greg Smith, Goldman Sachs

    “I truly believe that this decline in the firm’s moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival.” — The former Goldman executive director in an opinion piece in the New York Times.

    Photograph by Jin Lee/Bloomberg
  3. Carol Bartz, Yahoo
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    Carol Bartz, Yahoo

    "These people f----- me over." "Now they’re trying to show that they’re not the doofuses that they are." — The former chief executive officer speaking about Yahoo!’s board in an interview with Fortune.

    Photograph by Tony Avelar/Bloomberg
  4. Brad Garlinghouse, Yahoo
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    Brad Garlinghouse, Yahoo

    "I've heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular. I hate peanut butter. We all should." — This was not a resignation letter, but the Yahoo! senior vice president expounding in 2006 on Yahoo’s problems in this strange internal document. He left two years later.

    Photograph by Neal Hamberg/Bloomberg
  5. Olympia Snowe, U.S. Senate
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    Olympia Snowe, U.S. Senate

    "It's a reflection of the political dynamic in America, where we don't look at America as a whole. We look at it through the red and blue prism…. And so it becomes more divisive and I think ultimately has manifested itself in the Senate and an overall process that lends itself to dysfunction and political paralysis that doesn't allow problems to be solved." — The Maine senator on her frustration with American politics, as she announces she'll step down when her term ends.

    Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  6. Stephen Slater, JetBlue
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    Stephen Slater, JetBlue

    "To the passenger who just called me a motherf-----: F--- you. I've been in this business 28 years and I've had it." — The frustrated flight attendant has his say over the PA system on an airplane at JFK Airport before opening the plane door and exiting via the escape chute.

    Photograph by Andrew Theodorakis/NY Daily News via Getty Images
  7. Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Wikileaks
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    Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Wikileaks

    "[…] Julian Assange reacted to any criticism with the allegation that I was disobedient to him and disloyal to the project. Four weeks ago, he suspended me—acting as the prosecutor, judge and hangman in one person." — The former spokesman in an interview with Spiegel.

    Photograph by Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images
  8. Michael Woodford, Olympus
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    Michael Woodford, Olympus

    "The honorable way forward would be for you and Mori-san to face the consequences of what has taken place, which is a shameful saga by any stretch of the imagination. It is clear that the current situation is now untenable and to move forward positively the necessary course of action is for you both to tender your resignations from the Board." — The chief executive officer in a letter to then-Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, regarding questionable acquisitions and advisory fees. Woodford was fired, and the scandal broke into public view shortly afterward.

    Photograph by Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg
  9. Richard Nixon, after losing the California governor's race
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    Richard Nixon, after losing the California governor's race

    "You don't have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference, and I hope that what I have said today will at least make television, radio, the press recognize that they have a right and a responsibility, if they're against a candidate, give him the shaft; but also recognize if they give him the shaft, put one lonely reporter on the campaign who'll report what the candidate says now and then." — The 1962 press conference was, alas, not his last.

    Photograph by Ralph Crane//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
  10. Rosie O’Donnell, 'The View'
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    Rosie O’Donnell, 'The View'

    "I never tried harder to be friends with someone than I did with her. But I don't think we ever got there, or anywhere close." — O’Donnell, after an on-air feud with co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck prompted her to resign.

    Photograph by Ben Rose/WireImage/Getty Images