Goldman Succession Battle: Tame, Placid, Bald

Cupcakes and pleasantries.

Bloomberg / Contributor

This post originally appeared in Money Stuff.

"If I come over to your house at Thanksgiving and I sharpen your knife, you will definitively know the difference right away," Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Co-President Harvey Schwartz told the New York Times in November, and while he was talking about his early job working in a butcher shop, there was at least the hint of a metaphor. Schwartz, a karate black belt and expert knife-sharpener, was locked in a succession battle with his co-president David Solomon, whose extracurricular activities run toward electronic music DJ'ing, eating at fancy restaurants and drinking expensive wine. While Solomon was partying, Schwartz studied the blade.

But yesterday Solomon was declared the winner in the succession battle, and all of the accounts of that battle so far are … frankly a little tame? The story is basically that Solomon impressed the board — and current Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein — and so they declared him the winner, and Schwartz announced that he was leaving with gratitude for "an incredible 21 years." "Behind the Goldman Sachs Race to the Top Was a Quiet Battle for Blankfein's Favor," is the Bloomberg News headline, and I hope they baked him cupcakes on alternating days. ("How Solomon won cage match to become Goldman heir apparent" is the Financial Times's more dramatic headline, but nothing in the story is inconsistent with cupcakes.) I would like to assume there was at least a little dirty dealing, desperate lobbying, midnight intrigues, but so far none of that has really come out. On the surface everything seems pretty placid.