Lloyd Blankfein is leaving Goldman Sachs and will be replaced as CEO by David Solomon, the current Goldman co-head of investment banking who was once head of the high yield division at Bear Stearns. We knew this already, but now it's official: an announcement is expected later today. It will be a change in more than just name.
Solomon's strategic plans for Goldman sound remarkably similar to those of Blankfein, with both men following the strategy laid out by Harvey Schwartz - who also wanted to be CEO, but left the firm after failing in his quest and is now presumably on a beach somewhere sharpening his kitchen knives. Nonetheless, Solomon is a very different personality, and those differences can be expected to permeate the Goldman Sachs cultural miasma.
Lloyd Blankfein, for example, is a relaxed and wry type of person, who likes nothing more than to spend rainy Sundays lying on a couch eating chocolate cookies. He's also endowed with a strong sense of irony, as reflected in the (ill-judged) "doing God's work comment" in 2009 when he still had some dark hair.
David Solomon, by comparison, is all kinetic energy. When he's not working and wearing Lulemon Athletica clothing to Lulemon IPO, he has a monthly gig as DJ D-Sol. When he's not DJ-ing he's running, biking, spinning, or kite-surfing. Writing in Vanity Fair, William Cohan, the ex-Lazard MD turned writer and journalist, says Solomon is an, "inveterate adrenaline junkie."
It is here, then, that the difference between the outgoing and incoming Goldman Sachs CEOs is likely to be most conspicuous. While Solomon is a weekend thrill-seeker, Blankfein is all about lying down and mitigating risk. One of Blankfein's mantras is that, he spends, "98 percent of my time worrying about things with a 2 percent probability.” It was Blankfein - who was a risk manager before he became a trader - who led Goldman through the financial crisis. - “He leaned against the conventional wisdom, both within the firm and more broadly. In 2005-6-7, when the numbers were great and there was a lot of ‘this time is different’ going around, Lloyd would get up and say ‘Plenty of time to have our worst year ever’,” a senior Goldman partner told the Financial Times.
Will Solomon have the same wry perspicacity? It's too early to say. The indications are that he won't. He's widely credited with being a "nice guy." But he's not Lloyd. And that's going to be apparent in the years to come.
Separately, if you're wondering how senior and ex-Wall Streeters spend their weekends, Bloomberg has a few insights. The newswire recently attended the weekend Hamptons charity gala of Chad Leat, a former Citi vice chairman who spent almost 30 years in corporate credit and acquisition financing. Described as "really rich" and one of the "wealthiest" people about, when he's not holding charity galas, Leat reportedly spends time cruising in his, "new yacht with a cherry red interior." Attendees at Leat's event included Tom Maheras, the former co-head of Citi's markets division, who had also been on a boat all day and was suffering from sunburn.
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