Partnership: A History of Goldman Sachs

Partnership: A History of Goldman Sachs

by Charles D. Ellis
     
 

With unparalleled access to the firm's enigmatic leadership, The Partnership chronicles the brilliant, men who built one of the world's largest investment banks.

Goldman Sachs is the most profitable and powerful investment bank in the world today. Fifty years ago it was a marginal family firm with limited prospects. How did it ascend toSee more details below

Overview

With unparalleled access to the firm's enigmatic leadership, The Partnership chronicles the brilliant, men who built one of the world's largest investment banks.

Goldman Sachs is the most profitable and powerful investment bank in the world today. Fifty years ago it was a marginal family firm with limited prospects. How did it ascend to leadership in Europe, Asia, North and South America; make many, many partners fabulous fortunes; and become the leader in IPOs, M&A, FX, bond dealing, stockbrokerage, derivatives, hedge funds, private equity, and real estate?

As a strategy consultant to Goldman Sachs for more than thirty years, Charles D. Ellis developed close relationships with many of the firm's past and present leaders around the world. In The Partnership he probes deeply into the most important chapters in the firm's history, revealing the key events and decisions that tell the colorful, character-driven story of how Goldman Sachs became what it is today.

Ellis tells the illuminating stories of the great personalities who sowed the seeds of Goldman Sachs's success: from Sidney Weinberg, a junior high school drop out with a flair for markets; to Gus Levy, who brought a ferocious intensity to every minute of every workday; to John Whitehead, who wrote the core values that defined a culture of teamwork in serving clients; to the unpretentious John Weinberg, who was the quintessential relationship banker of his era; to Robert Rubin and Hank Paulson, who both became secretary of the treasury; to Governor Jon Corzine; and finally to current CEO and chairman of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein.

Starting as a sole proprietorship dealingin commercial paper in the mid-nineteenth century, Goldman Sachs became an innovative underwriter; struggled to survive the crash and Depression, and came out of World War II to complete what was then the single most important transaction in Wall Street's history: Ford Motor Company's IPO. Goldman Sachs overcame a full set of dramatic perils: Penn Central's bankruptcy, Robert Maxwell's abusive frauds, and insider trading scandals. Ellis demonstrates how the firm's core values, intensive recruiting, entrepreneurial creativity, and disciplined risk taking-incorporating technology and hard work-laid the foundations, multiplied the firm's resources and profits, and magnified its power until it became today's Goldman Sachs: one of the most successful business organizations in the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this history of investment bank Goldman Sachs, Ellis (Winning the Loser's Game) covers the same ground as Lisa Endlich's Goldman Sachs: The Culture of Success-with notable stylistic differences. From Marcus Goldman's purchase of his first commercial paper in 1869 to the firm's current success, Ellis's account is lively and engaging where Endlich's is accurate but dry. Ellis sheds light on events through dialogue and detailed descriptions of people's thoughts and feelings, embellishments that the author terms "recreations" in his epilogue. The effect of infusing such narrative techniques into the history of Goldman Sachs is entertaining, but it pushes the envelope of nonfiction, especially since the author appears to have interviewed only former partners of the firm. More damagingly, Ellis fails to report much about actual business, and attempts to do so-such as a chapter on Rockefeller Center financing-require lengthy digressions and are incomprehensible due to the complexities of the transactions. Without links to business, boardroom conflicts take on the air of petty squabbles. More a composite memoir of senior Goldman partners than a traditional history, this book will satisfy readers curious about the philosophies and personalities of the firm. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Ellis, an author and former financial consultant, tells the story of how Goldman Sachs evolved from a sole proprietorship in the 1870s to today's global financial juggernaut. He works in profiles of dozens of the company's leaders, humorous anecdotes, and riveting details of financial crises. He tells how the firm has managed to meld teamwork with competition, a caring culture with high work standards, and making a profit with upholding its reputation. Always focused on recruiting the best people, Goldman Sachs, he explains, has used its intellectual capital to find and exploit widely divergent financial opportunities. From investment banking to arbitrage, from asset management to proprietary trading, it has cultivated success. While Ellis does not ignore some of the firm's unsavory episodes (e.g., insider trading accusations or its dalliance with the late master manipulator Robert Maxwell), he presents the accomplishments of Goldman Sachs as generally praiseworthy. His work is both an insightful company history and an enlightening view of the financial services industry. It is essential for all academic and larger public library business collections.
—Lawrence Maxted

Kirkus Reviews
Investment-strategy consultant Ellis (Capital, 2004, etc.) gives the financial powerhouse a largely bullish evaluation. His expansive appraisal does, however, report the bad times along with the good at Goldman Sachs. Ellis devotes a few conscientious pages to the firm's early years. Beginning in 1869, founder Marcus Goldman pioneered the resale of commercial paper and catered mainly to fellow Jews. After the arrival of son-in-law Samuel Sachs as a junior partner in 1882, the company expanded its reach and consolidated its prestige, moving into investment banking with the first public stock offerings of Sears Roebuck (1906) and F.W. Woolworth. & Co. (1912). The main focus of Ellis's illuminating text, however, is the preternaturally aggressive partnership's latter-day adventures as Goldman Sachs grew to be an international force in the last half of the 20th century. With only minor lapses into jargon, the author explicates with clarity and verve the fundamentals of risk arbitrage and block trading, mergers and acquisitions, retail sales, initial public offerings, equity underwriting, derivatives, arbitrage investment management, hostile takeovers and credit default swaps. He provides intriguing, specific descriptions of notable events like the collapses of tired old Penn Central and cocky hedge fund Long Term Capital Management. He chronicles the doings of swashbuckling brigand Robert Maxwell. He offers astute character sketches of the principal players, many of whom were sources: tough Gus Levy; "the two Johns" (Whitehead and Weinberg); Secretaries of the Treasury Bob Rubin and Hank Paulson; and Jon Corzine, who tried too soon to go public and ultimately departed for the U.S. Senate andthe New Jersey statehouse. Mapping the firm's tangled loyalties and fiefdoms, Ellis paints a Darwinian portrait of fierce competitors who played people along with the markets. Informed and accessible.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780141035246
Publisher:
Viking Penguin
Publication date:
10/28/2009

Meet the Author

Charles D. Ellis is a consultant to large institutional investors and government agencies. For thirty years he was managing partner of Greenwich Associates, an international business strategy consulting firm he founded that serves virtually all the leading financial service organizations around the world. Ellis earned his M.B.A. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. from New York University. He has taught investment management courses at Harvard and Yale, and is the author of twelve books. Ellis has served on the boards of Harvard Business School and Phillips Exeter Academy and is currently chairman of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, a trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a director of Vanguard, and a trustee and chair of the investment committee at Yale University.

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