KPMG is a gigantic accounting and "professional services" company, by some measures the largest of the Big 5 (the others being Arthur Andersen, Deloitte and Touche, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers). With offices in most countries around the globe, KPMG provides assurance, tax, legal and financial advisory services to companies. It also has a theoretically independent consulting arm, KPMG Consulting.

The entity known as "KPMG Peat Marwick" was formed in 1987 with the merger of Peat Marwick International (PMI) and Klynveld Main Goerdeler (KMG), and on January 1st, 2000 the name was officially shortened to just "KPMG". The oldest of its constituent companies go back over three hundred years, and some still remain in the acronym:

K is for Klynveld

Piet Klynveld founded the accounting firm Klynveld Kraayenhof & Co. in Amsterdam in 1917.
P is for Peat
William Barclay Peat founded the accounting firm William Barclay Peat & Co. in London in 1870.
M is for Marwick
James Marwick founded the accounting firm Marwick, Mitchell & Co. with Roger Mitchell in New York City in 1897.
G is for Gördeler
Dr. Reinhard Gördeler was for many years chairman of Deutsche Treuhand-Gesellschaft and one of the masterminds behind the merger.
Like the others in the Big 5, KPMG jumped aboard the e-business bandwagon in a big way, touting its know-how and innovative solutions. Their true acumen has been called into question though, as within half a year KPMG have managed to pull two stunts that have gained them a rather bad reputation in the hacker community.

The first flap came in April 2001, when the KPMG corporate anthem leaked out onto the Net and turned into an Internet meme. To their credit, KPMG did not attempt to enforce their copyright to stop its propagation, although this may have been primarily because the official KPMG line was that they had nothing to do with it. But in December, KPMG started to enforce their "Web Link Policy" (, which states:

KPMG is obligated to protect its reputation and trademarks and KPMG reserves the right to request removal of any link to our website.

The following web link activities are explicitly prohibited by KPMG and may present trademark and copyright infringement issues:

And while the paragraph saying so seems to have disappeared from the online copy, KPMG's legal nastygrams said that all links, even those to KPMG's homepage, require a formal "Web Link Agreement" with KPMG. One of "hundreds" of these letters was, coincidentally, sent to, host of the KPMG corporate anthem. The hacker community's response was obvious: everybody and their dog Flippy started to link to, which within days shot up to the top of Blogdex.

At time of writing, KPMG's response is unclear -- if they have any sense, they'll forget about the whole thing and hope everybody follows suit. Then again, if they had any sense, they wouldn't have gotten into this mess in the first place...

References (which, incidentally, was designed by Razorfish and looks hideous unless you're using IE)

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