One of the more unexpected side effects of the long recuperation from the financial crisis has been Goldman Sachs' weird rebranding as a hip, startup-liketech company. Whether the 138-year-old bank has indeed undergone a transformation or just invested in more PR fluff, there's something to be said for Goldman's continued ability to attract masses of aspiring millennials otherwise bound for the Googles and Facebooks of the world. As Lloyd Blankfein is fond of saying, “we're a technology firm,” which, if that wasn't convincing enough, is still more believable than his insistence that “we're a platform.”
Now the House of Lloyd is taking another step in its slow journey toward Silicon Valley: Cramming hundreds of employees together in a big open space and calling it “collaboration.” Bloomberg has the story:
The Goldman Sachs Asset Management unit is poised to move about 500 employees from desks scattered across three floors to one with a new layout, seating them shoulder-to-shoulder so they can more easily interact, according to Andrew Williams, a spokesman. The move at the firm’s 200 West St. headquarters will be completed by the end of April.
It marks the most ambitious renovation of trading floors within the base of the skyscraper since it opened in 2009. The plans were unveiled to staff Thursday at a town-hall meeting run by managers including Jonathan Beinner, chief investment officer for GSAM’s global fixed-income strategies.
Of course, it's not unusual for hundreds of stock-jobbers to congregate on massive trading floors. Goldman's own online lender, the totally with-it Marcus, currently operates in much the same way. What's distinctive here is Goldman's insistence on deploying the lingo and perks that have proven so disruptive out on the West coast:
“This floor is designed to encourage greater collaboration amongst our investment teams by increasing the opportunity for, and quality of, their interactions with one another and with our clients,” Williams said. [...] The new space will feature a coffee bar, two pantries and a bank of phone booths for holding private conversations, the presentation shows.
That's a change of pace for the teams being reassigned to the floor, including equity and fixed-income fundamental strategies teams and Goldman's in-house hedge fund, which had previously worked on separate floors. Now, crammed together on the third floor, the teams will work cheek-by-jowl, collectively staring up at a twenty-foot screen that will continuously broadcast the performance of the funds operating there.
Sounds like a blast!