Fortune’s Nelson Schwartz has a helpful (if not entirely presumptuous) profile on the Man o’ the Hour today. It details several of the pillars of Blackstone's gargantuan success, and doesn’t shy away from making harsh (though clearly spot-on) interior design judgments.
Pillar #1: The Monday Morning Meeting. This is where—at the “long, slightly scuffed conference table in a windowless boardroom high above Park Avenue”—the magic happens. Everyone’s there—Blackstone Wingman Tony James; “real estate prodigy” Jonathan Gray; the new guy from the copy room.** This is where it all goes down.
The meeting always starts with private equity before moving quickly to Blackstone's newer divisions - real estate at 10:30, followed by hedge funds at 2 P.M. in another conference room, and finishing up with Blackstone's debt business at 4.
It was in this boardroom that Schwarzman and his team plotted to buy EOP, twice raising their bids before hitting the winning number of $39 billion. It's also here where the firm has often carved out niches in alternative investing, a nontraditional corner of Wall Street where newfangled investments, such as hedge funds specializing in distressed debt, can bring both greater risks and greater rewards.
"We go over every client situation, every deal," says Schwarzman. And what about lunch? "You must be kidding. We don't have time for lunch," he jokes, echoing the fictional avatar of 1980s Wall Street, Gordon Gekko.
Pillar #2: Hilarity (see above).
Pillar #3: Use of safe words, indoor voices.
Schwarzman doesn't raise his voice.
Pillar #4 Realization that, despite appearances (the Arts and Crafts building, camp songs, Color War, and so on and so forth), Blackstone is not, in fact, Camp Weequahic (or wherever you learned to French kiss and water ski (that’s a euphemism)).
The hard part about working at Blackstone isn't that it's bare knuckles, like Bear Stearns, but that there's the relentless pressure to succeed. "Each time they suit up, they expect to win," says Gallogly. "That's what's Steve's been able to maintain."
J.P. Morgan's Lee is blunter. "You need to bring your A-game every day," he says. "It's not summer camp."
Pillar #5: Homosexuality? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Several weeks before his birthday extravaganza, and in the thick of the bidding for Equity Office, Steve Schwarzman attended a different kind of party at the World Economic Forum in Davos, one where the guest of honor was Claudia Schiffer. While the leaders of European business genuflected before the German supermodel and posed for pictures, Schwarzman was demonstrating his legendary discipline as he told this reporter about the advantages that private buyers like Blackstone bring when they acquire public companies, such as bulk purchasing to gain economies of scale.
The ability to ignore a supermodel in order to talk shop is typical of Schwarzman's single-mindedness. It's also the kind of focus he'll need to keep Blackstone out of harm's way as the stakes get higher and higher.
(Alternative to Pillar #5, that so-called “investigative journalist” Nelson Schwartz failed to discover: The fact that Gisele, Heidi, some furry handcuffs and a pair of die were waiting for Schwarzman back in his room, and that Claudia Schiffer hasn’t done it for him “in years. Single-mindedness my ass.")
**Okay no, but that would be rather generous of them, wouldn’t it? If we let Carney attend our Thursday editorial meetings, surely Blackstone can allow the new guy from the copy room the chance to feel the rays of glory on his skin and sit quietly without talking. He’s probably better behaved than Carney, too. Hardly any tantrums, we’re guessing.
Wall Street's man of the moment [Fortune]