A little while later, Marty Chavez, who is about to become the bank’s chief financial officer, received an unexpected email.
“Hey Marty, I’d like to come over to your office to introduce myself,” it said. It was from Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
“We’ve been talking ever since about the similarities in the businesses,” Chavez told a group of computer scientists earlier this year about the message. “Some of the similarities are aspirational, I have to emphasize that, and some are there right now.”
The comments shine a light on how Goldman Sachs’ leadership see its future. It’s possibly the future of all of Wall Street — because where Goldman Sachs goes, the Street often follows.
It goes beyond the automation that has been creeping across trading floors for years and is now being applied to investment banking, a business that had been considered much less vulnerable to automation.
Instead, Chavez’s comments establish a more radical vision for Goldman Sachs and set out how Silicon Valley giants are inspiring that change. And yes, people will lose their jobs if this is how it goes.
‘THE FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH OF GOLDMAN SACHS’
Chavez was speaking at the Harvard Institute for Applied Computational Science in January. About a month ago, a video of the talk was made public on YouTube, and it has since been viewed only about 200 times. In it, Chavez said, “Goldman is for risk what Google is for search.”
Here’s how Chavez described Google in his presentation:
“Google produces software services, and those software services aggregate the attention of billions of people, and then Google sells the attention of billions of people to advertisers.”
And here’s how he described Goldman Sachs:
“A client has a risk they don’t want or wants a risk they don’t have, and we make it happen for them. This is the fundamental truth of Goldman Sachs. If the clients stop calling and talking to us about risks they have but don’t want or want but don’t have, then we have no business whatsoever.”
With that in mind, Goldman Sachs has built what it calls Data Lake, pulling in information on transactions, markets, and investment research, as well as insights from emails, voice calls, and instant messages. The bank is putting all that data in the same place and applying machine learning.
The idea is to guide employees on who to call and when.