Who is David Solomon? Goldman banker moves closer to top role

The announced retirement of Harvey Schwartz leaves David Solomon as the sole heir apparent at Goldman Sachs. REUTERS

David Solomon, now heir apparent at Goldman Sachs to CEO Lloyd Blankfein, is known for boosting the investment banking division’s revenue, spearheading a move to ease the workload of junior bankers and working as an occasional disc jockey with the stage name D.J. D-Sol.

Blankfein had good news for Solomon and bad news for his rival Harvey Schwartz when he told the two bankers last week that Solomon was likely to be the firm’s next CEO, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. That disclosure led Schwartz to announce that he would retire.

More than a year ago, Solomon and Schwartz were both elevated to the role of co-president and co-chief operating officer, setting off a competition for the role of CEO. Those promotions came as Gary Cohn left to join the Trump administration as director of the Council of Economic Advisers, a role he said last week he was giving up.

Solomon, 56, started his Wall Street career in the 1980s selling commercial paper at Drexel Burnham Lambert, the firm of the disgraced bond financier Michael Milken. After a stint at Bear Stearns, he joined Goldman as a partner in 1999, the year Goldman went public.

Solomon is credited with building up a high-yield debt business and ran the firm’s investment banking division from 2006 to 2016. During that span, according to the Journal, the unit’s revenue increased 70% and its share of profits more than doubled. He set up a task force to ease the workload of toiling junior bankers and, as The New York Times reported, is known for moonlighting as a DJ at venues in New York, Miami and the Bahamas.

While Solomon embodies Goldman’s investment banking side, Schwartz, like Blankfein, hails from the trading division, which Schwartz, now 54, was running by 2008. The following year, according to the Journal, the firm’s traders made $33 billion in 2009, the most profitable year on record for a Wall Street broker-dealer.

The Journal reported Friday that Blankfein is approaching the end of a 12-year run at the helm of Goldman, which is one of the world’s most profitable investment banks, though Blankfein said in a tweet that it’s “the @WSJ's announcement ... not mine. I feel like Huck Finn listening to his own eulogy.”

In the years ahead, a priority for Solomon, if he indeed succeeds Blankfein as CEO, will be the rivalry between the U.S. and China. In an address at his alma mater, Hamilton College, Solomon said China’s economy would surpass that of the U.S. “within 20 or 25 years.”