No, goodwill is the premium paid over the value of the assets in the context of M&A. The point is, you suggest it is tied to the market value of the shares - it's not. It's certainly not related to an abstraction like the company's "reputation". Tech companies are especially prone to accumulating goodwill and intangibles. I am not arguing WSTL's write down of intangibles wasn't concerning - it is. But your assertion that WSTL is doing something shady or unique is completely off base.