After 12 years at the helm of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein is finally parting ways with the Vampire Squid.
In a press release, Goldman said that Blankfein - who has been CEO and Chairman since 2006 - will step down as Chief Executive Officer on September 30, 2018, and will retire from the firm and as Chairman of the Board at the end of the year. Blankfein will accept the title of Senior Chairman after his retirement. Solomon will join the firm’s Board on October 1, 2018.
Solomon was appointed President and Co-Chief Operating Officer in 2016, shortly after Gary Cohn exited the firm for a brief stint in the Trump administration. Before that, he was Co-Head of Goldman's Investment Banking Division from 2006.
In his official statement in the press release, Blankfein said the following:
“I want to express my deep appreciation for the opportunity to work with and benefit from so many talented and dedicated colleagues,. My job has also allowed me to engage with many of the most impressive business leaders around the world and I thank them for allowing me to help support their goals and priorities.”
“Our firm has demonstrated great resiliency and strength over the last 12 years. I’ve never been more optimistic about our ability to serve our clients effectively and generate industry-leading returns.”
“David is the right person to lead Goldman Sachs. He has demonstrated a proven ability to build and grow businesses, identified creative ways to enhance our culture and has put clients at the center of our strategy. Through the talent of our people and the quality of our client franchise, Goldman Sachs is poised to realize the next stage of growth.”
Perhaps more interesting is what Blankfein told the NYT in an interview on Monday night alongside Solomon:
“When things are going badly, you can’t leave. And when things are going well, you don’t want to leave. So if you’re going out on your own steam, it’s always going to be at a moment when you don’t want to leave. And by the way, that’s why people sometimes stay too long.”
“this is a period of time when I’m feeling quite optimistic about our positioning,” Mr. Blankfein said. “I’m also feeling quite good about the external environment.”
“Could it have been earlier? Could it be later? I’m not tired. I’m well. I’m not out of gas. David is ripe and ready and the right guy.”
And as Blankfein departs to his comfortable confines at 15 CPW, he will be replaced by David Solomon.
Who is he?
Solomon is an investment banker rather than a trader: an odd fit for the Goldman culture that has been dominated by trading for much of the past decade. Ironically, Solomon did not get an interview at Goldman when he graduated from Hamilton College in 1984, ending up at Bear Stearns instead.
As the NYT notes, unlike many of his peers who grew up within Goldman, Solomon was hired as a partner after a swift rise at Bear. In a sharp contrast to the typical Wall Street chief executive, Solomon is known for having a variety of outside interests, including collecting rare wine and practicing yoga. According to Bloomberg, he is an avid foodie, and while he wouldn't say if he's a Yankees or a Mets fan, but he does prefer the food at Citi Field (where the Mets play).
Earlier this year, Solomon faced a legal drama when his former personal assistant allegedly admitted that he stole $1.2 million worth of rare wine from Solomon's collection. The assistant had promised to meet with Solomon and his wife the next day to repay them but instead prosecutors say he fled to Italy.
But the most notable side hobby of Solomon is that he is an electronic dance music DJ, playing as a D.J. once a month under the stage name DJ D-Sol. Solomon’s biography on Spotify — where he recently released his first single, a remix of the Fleetwood Mac tune “Don’t Stop” — says, "His personal mantra is to never lose sight of what you are passionate about."
His Spotify album can be found below:
Most recently, D-Sol played at Libation on April 7.
And here he is in action:
And while we expect Goldman's future conference calls to have DJ-Sol's tunes as wait music, we doubt there will be much if any other changes between the Blankfein regime and that of his successor, especially once volatility returns to the market.