Beyond 007: Goldman Sachs Automates Code Name Generation For Camouflaging Deals

Beyond 007: Goldman Sachs Automates Code Name Generation For Camouflaging Deals
Corporate intelligence meets artificial intelligence or so it would seem if the latest move by Goldman Sachs is to be believed. A Wall Street Journal report has revealed more about Project Funway or how the international banking firm is automating the process to generate code names for deals. To give just a small taste for what the sleuths in Goldman Sachs are up to, consider the title Project Swift given to a corporate buyout which must remain in wraps because of a private equity associate's none too secret passion for the American singer Taylor Swift.

But associates at Goldman Sachs will no longer have to come up with interesting code names to protect deals from becoming deal breakers. As with any other field, this area too has been invaded by the machines. When it comes to the battle between man and machine, one cannot hope to be Neo against the Matrix. What it all boils down to is how secure the code name is.

The use of code names to hide deals from becoming public before they are even finalised is nothing new. What is new is the lengths that enterprising traders and journalists will go to, in order to acquire information prior to its release pertaining to the deals. Both groups value data which signals a possible deal as this can play an important role in corporate comings and goings, not to mention the profit stakes.

When stakes are so high, the banking industry has understandably been taking precautions as well. Cited in the WSJ report is how Apollo Global Management used the code name Project Token to camouflage the buyout of famed kid's restaurant Chuck E. Cheese and Kinder Morgan used Project Fusion to hide details of its consolidation of oil and gas holding into a single firm. Companies are not being extra enterprising when it comes to hiding details from prying (or is it private?) eyes.

What the companies are also hoping to do is hide the deal from the rivals. If Apple or Samsung want to keep details private from each other, code names would be just what the doctor ordered. But large companies tend to keep the information secret from each other rather than broadcasting it by trusting the details to leading financial and banking institutions such as Goldman Sachs.

Rather than risk being caught out by equally enterprising code breakers, deal making giant Goldman Sachs is now automating the process to make sure nothing can be revealed before its intended date of disclosure.

Goldman Sachs is now using name generating software that gives the associates a total of 10 random options for a code name for any deal. While the naysayers point to the difficulty of remembering the complicated automatically generated code names, they should also note that code breakers will encounter similar difficulties when they try to crack the code.

No doubt getting the news before others do has its advantages. But ethics should form the cornerstone of any business and this holds true for corporate deals. With disclosure becoming optional, many companies are even preferring to keep the financial details permanently under wraps. This is a classic case of hiding the light under the bushel. With enterprising code name breakers on the prowl, the benefits of automating the naming process cannot be underscored. What's in a name, one might be tempted to ask, if one were not aware of the complex processes that precede any and every corporate deal. Code names can make the deal, rather than breaking it.
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