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Song of Solomon

These days, some critics are out for David Solomon, the 61-year-old Goldman C.E.O., who is now into his fifth year leading the 154-year-old firm.
These days, some critics are out for David Solomon, the 61-year-old Goldman C.E.O., who is now into his fifth year leading the 154-year-old firm. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images
William D. Cohan
February 15, 2023

Running Goldman Sachs is a bit like managing the New York Yankees or being the president of Harvard—it’s a job draped in prestige and riches and accomplishment and yet everyone pretty much thinks he or she can do it, or has an opinion about how to do it better. And heaven help you if you make a gaffe, as the garrulous Lloyd Blankfein did in November 2009 when he referred, in an off-the-cuff, tone-deaf remark, to his job as “doing God’s work.” Or when the venerable economy-rescuing Hank Paulson, Blankfein’s predecessor, claimed, in January 2003, that about 20 percent of Goldman’s employees were generating 80 percent of the value for the firm. “I think we can cut a fair amount and not get into muscle and still be very well positioned for the upturn,” he said at an investment conference. The chattering classes had a field day in both instances. 

These days, some critics are out for David Solomon, the 61-year-old C.E.O., who is now into his fifth year leading the 154-year-old firm. Plenty of the gripes trend toward the superficial. His extracurricular DJ-ing was the subject of yet another ridiculous New York Times article, this one on the front page, no less. Solomon has also been criticized for cutting 3,200 jobs, and lamenting that he hadn’t accomplished the task sooner. The bonus pool for 2022 was reduced by half from the fulsome 2021 levels, while the Goldman board of directors reduced Solomon’s compensation by only 29 percent, to $25 million. He’s also been blamed, fairly or not, for a smattering of partners exiting the firm.