Biography Philanthropists

Lloyd Blankfein

Lloyd Blankfein
lloyd Blankfein
Born Lloyd Craig Blankfein
September 20, 1954 (age 64)
New York CityNew York, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Harvard University
Occupation Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs
Years active 1982–present
Salary $22.3 million (2016)
Net worth US$1.1 billion[1] (July 2017)
Political party Democratic
Laura Jacobs (m. 1983)
Children 3

Lloyd Craig Blankfein (born September 20, 1954) is an American investment banker who has served as chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs since 2006.[2] He assumed the office after former chief executive, Henry Paulson, was asked to serve as the 74th United States Secretary of the Treasury. Previous to leading Goldman Sachs, he was the company’s president and chief operating officer (COO) from 2004 to 2006, serving under Paulson.

Born and raised in New York City, Blankfein attended Harvard University for his undergraduate and law school studies before briefly entering private law practice. In 1982, he became a precious metals salesman at J. Aron & Co., a small commodities trading firm which was acquired by Goldman in 1994. After leading Goldman’s currency and commodities divisions from 1994 to 1997 he was named heir apparent despite ranking third in the corporate hierarchy. He served as the president and chief operating officer from 2004 to his ascension to chief executive. Almost immediately after assuming the company, the financial crisis of 2007-08 hit the banking industry. His role and handling of the crisis was widely praised and criticized by media outlets making him a public figure.

After the Federal Reserve implemented dovish monetary policies and the U.S. Treasury bailed out the company, Blankfein took advantage of low interest rates to undercut competition from other investment banks and established Goldman Sachs as the second largest investment bank in the U.S. as others either went bankrupt or fell to acquisition. Blankfein was twice named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine and won the Financial Times Person of the Year award in 2009.[3][4] According to Forbes magazine, his net worth is estimated to be US$1.1 billion as of July 2017.[5][6] His total compensation package for fiscal year 2016 was estimated to be $22.3 million.[7]

Early life and career[edit]

Lloyd Craig Blankfein was born in The Bronx borough of New York City, New York on September 20, 1954.[8] His father, Seymour Blankfein, was a clerk with the U.S. Postal Service branch in the Manhattan borough of New York City and his mother was a receptionist.[9] Born to a Jewish family, he was raised in the Linden Houses, a housing project in the East New York section of Brooklyn.[10] As a boy, he worked as a concession vendor at Yankee Stadium.[11] He received primary and secondary education in New York City’s public schools graduating valedictorian at Thomas Jefferson High School in 1971. He went on to attend Harvard College where he lived in Winthrop House and graduated with a A.B. in history in 1975.[12][13] After graduating college, he attended Harvard Law School where he received a J.D. degree in 1978.[13]

Blankfein first worked for the law firms Proskauer Rose and then Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine.[14] In 1982, he joined the commodities trading firm J. Aron & Co. as a precious metalssalesman in its London office. The firm was later acquired by the investment bank, Goldman Sachs.[15]

Goldman Sachs[edit]

The acquisition of J. Aron & Co. was one of the last acts of outgoing chief executive Stephen Friedman who retired in January 1994.[16] Friedman appointed Henry Paulson as his successor who in turn tasked Blankfein with managing or co-managing the company’s currency and commodities divisions from 1994 to 1997.[17] After Paulson consolidated control of Goldman, he identified Blankfein as his heir apparent in response to a hypothetical question despite him ranking third in the corporate hierarchy behind two co-presidents.[18] In 2004, Blankfein was promoted to president and chief operating officer, a position he served in until June 2006.[19] As president, he oversaw the 2000s commodities boom and positioned Goldman to take advantage of rising commodity prices.[20] On May 30, 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush nominated Paulson to serve as the 74th United States Secretary of the Treasury which prompted Paulson to establish a succession plan. Shortly after Paulson was sworn in, Blankfein was asked to serve the company as chairman and chief executive officer in July 2006.[21]

2007-08 financial crisis[edit]

“To begin with an obvious point, much of (2007-08) has been deeply humbling for my industry. We held ourselves up as the experts, and the loss of public confidence from failing to live up to the expectations that we created will take years to rebuild. Worse, decisions on compensation and other actions taken and not taken, particularly at banks that rapidly lost a lot of shareholder value, look self-serving and greedy in hindsight.”

— Blankfein (in 2009) on the loss of confidence in the financial industry.[22]

During the 2007-08 financial crisis, many financial institutions that had dealings in subprime mortgages received a high level of public attention. Goldman Sachs served as a primary market maker which indirectly dealt with financial products which in turn held subprime mortgages. During late 2008, the crisis led the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates and the U.S. Treasury to increase public spending in private banks.[23] Following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and the government bailout of Goldman, Blankfien used the low interest rates and government assistance to undercut competition from other investment banks and established Goldman Sachs as the second largest investment bank in the U.S. as others either went bankrupt or fell to acquisition.[24] In 2009, he was named Financial Times Person of the Year. His citation noted that “his bank stuck to its strengths, unashamedly [took] advantage of the low interest rates and diminished competition resulting from the crisis to make big trading profits.”[9][25]

On January 13, 2010, Blankfein voluntarily testified before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission that he considered Goldman Sachs’s role as primarily market maker, not a creator of the product (i.e., subprime mortgage-related securities).[26] Blankfein testified once more before Congress in April 2010 at a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He said that Goldman Sachs had no moral or legal obligation to inform its clients it was betting against the products which they were buying from Goldman Sachs because it was not acting in a fiduciary role.[27] Senator Carl Levinaccused Blankfein of misleading Congress, however no perjury charges were brought against Blankfein.[28][29] Despite no perjury charges being presented, Blankfein hired Reid Weingarten, a high-profile defense lawyer who represented former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers and former Enronaccounting officer Richard Causey as a precaution.[30] Two months later, after the publicity of the testimony increased his public status, he was listed as #43 on Forbes Magazine’s List of The World’s Most Powerful People in November 2011.[31]

Firm employment[edit]

In March 14, 2012, Greg Smith, a former Goldman executive, wrote a widely circulated op-ed for The New York Times titled “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs”, in which he heavily criticized the firm’s top leadership and Blankfein in particular.[32] Smith’s op-ed was criticized by many, particularly because he worked at Goldman for 12 years before deciding to quit due to moral objections.[32][33] In February 2018, in order to counter low sales and trading profits Blankfein instituted new hiring priorities. He instructed human resource managers at the firm to particularly focus on employment candidates who were “strategists” or “strats” i.e. highly quantitative and technologically proficient.[34] On March 15, 2018, Blankfein issued an internal memo advocating for complete gender parity among its workforce. He stated: “At Goldman Sachs we pay women and men in similar roles with similar performance equally. However, the real issue for our firm and many corporations is the under-representation of women and diverse professionals both in magnitude and levels of seniority. We have made some progress, but we have significant work to do, and we, as leaders of our firm, are committed to doing this critical work.”[35][36]

Leadership style[edit]

Research published at the University of Oxford characterizes Blankfein’s leadership style as paradigmatic of “founder centrism” – which is a founder’s mindset, an ethical disposition towards the shareholder collective, and an intense focus on exponential value creation.[37]


Blankfein’s compensation at Goldman Sachs has been at the center of controversy and interest to financial reporters and the general public. He was paid a base salary of $600,000 with a total compensation package of $54.4 million in 2006 as the highest-paid executive on Wall Street.[38] His bonus reflected the performance of Goldman Sachs, which reported record net earnings of $9.5 billion. The compensation included a cash bonus of $27.3 million, with the rest paid in stock and options.[39] A year later, he received total compensation of $53.9 million, which included a base salary of $600,000, a cash bonus of $26.9 million, stocks granted of $15.5 million and options granted of $10.4 million.[40] On April 7, 2009, he recommended guidelines to overhaul executive compensation. According to The New York Times, he said that lessons from the global financial crisis included the need to “apply basic standards to how we compensate people in our industry”.[41]He received US$23 million in salary and bonuses in 2015, which was slightly down from the US$24 million he earned in 2014 from Goldman Sachs.[42][43] According to the Financial Times, Blankfein earned an estimated $22.3 million in 2016.[7]


On March 9, 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported that Blankfein would step down from leading Goldman Sachs by the end of the year.[44] Later that day, Blankfein tweeted “It’s the @WSJ’s announcement…not mine. I feel like Huck Finn listening to his own eulogy.”[45] On March 12, Goldman announced that Harvey Schwartz, the company’s co-chief operating officer and president would be resigning, leaving David Solomon as the second-in-command.[46] Hours after the announcement, media outlets–both domestic and international–informally designated Solomon as Blankfein’s heir apparent.[47][48][49] It was announced in July 2018 that Solomon would assume the chairmanship and CEO position on October 1, 2018.[50]

Political positions[edit]

Blankfein has self-identified as “a registered Democrat, and a Rockefeller Republican … conservative on fiscal issues and more liberal on social issues“.[51] Blankfein contributes to mostly Democratic party candidates.[52] He donated $4,600 to Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton in 2007, and to the Senate re-election campaigns for the Republicans Rob Portman and Roy Blunt in 2015.[53] During the Obama administration, he visited the White House a total of 14 times.[54] On July 18, 2012 after meeting with Barack Obama‘s chief of staff, Jack Lew, he was asked whether he had any aspiration to go into government like predecessors Hank Paulson and Robert Rubin. “I have aspirations to be desired,” he replied.[55]

During the 2016 presidential election, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders named Blankfein as an example of corporate greed in January 2016. Blankfein responded that Sanders’ campaign had “the potential to be a dangerous moment.”[56]

Social issues[edit]

He was an early supporter of gay marriage and has been a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for LGBTQ civil rights.[57] In May 2012, Blankfein stated that his stance led Goldman Sachs to lose some high net worth clients.[58]

British libor rates[edit]

At the start of 2012, an international inquiry into the average of interest rates of London known as the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), found that there was systemic manipulation by various bulge bracket banks for profit.[59] The ensuing July 2012 Libor scandal prompted Blankfein to note that the general distrust of the financial world was worsened: “There was this huge hole to dig out of in terms of getting trust back and now it’s just that much deeper.”[60]


On June 1, 2017, Blankfein posted his first ever tweet, despite joining Twitter in 2011. He condemned President Donald Trump‘s withdrawal from the Paris Accord, saying “Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.’s leadership position in the world. #ParisAgreement“.[61]


Blankfein’s total compensation from 2000 to 2009 was estimated to be around $240 million. During this time period he personally donated $11 million (4.58% of his total compensation) to charitable organizations.[62] His joint charity foundation, the Lloyd and Laura Blankfein Foundation, donated $620,000 to Harvard Law School, $500,000 to the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, $50,000 to Barnard College, $46,500 to the Robin Hood Foundation, and $10,000 to Carnegie Hall in fiscal year 2010.[63]

He serves on the board of directors of the Partnership for New York City,[64] and on the board of overseers of the Weill Cornell Medical College.[65][66]

Personal life[edit]

Blankfein is married to Laura Jacobs, an attorney and the daughter of Norman S. Jacobs, the editor-in-chief of the Foreign Policy Association publications.[67] The couple have two sons, Alexander and Jonathan, and a daughter, Rachel.[68] Blankfein and his wife reside primarily in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, but they also maintain a home in Bridgehampton, New York, as well as another house, set on 2.65 acres, in Sagaponack, New York.[11]

On September 22, 2015, Blankfein was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma.[69] He received multiple rounds of treatment of chemotherapy and by October 2016 was in remission.[70][71]

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up^ Moore, Michael; Roux, Pamela (17 July 2017). “Lloyd Blankfein Is Now a Billionaire”. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  2. Jump up^ Moyer, Liz (2017-11-30). “Blankfein isn’t planning to die at his desk at Goldman, after all”. CNBC. Retrieved 2017-12-29.
  3. Jump up^ “Person of the Year 2009 – TIME”Time. 2009-12-16. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  4. Jump up^ “Subscribe to read”Financial Times. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  5. Jump up^ “Here’s what the CEOs of the world’s biggest banks earn” Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  6. Jump up^ “Meet Goldman Sachs’s Newest Billionaire: the CEO”Fortune. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  7. Jump up to:a b Egan, Matt. “Lloyd Blankfein takes pay cut at Goldman Sachs”CNNMoney. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  8. Jump up^ Moore, James (April 24, 2010). “Lloyd Blankfein: The prince of casino capitalism”The Independent. London. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
  9. Jump up to:a b Gapper, John “Master of risk who did God’s work for Goldman Sachs but won it little love” Financial Times. Retrieved December 25, 2009.
  10. Jump up^ Jacobson, Mark (September 9, 2012). “The Land That Time and Money Forgot”New York. Retrieved September 11,2012.
  11. Jump up to:a b James Nye, Inside Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s new $32.5 million Hamptons estate…bought even though he still hasn’t sold his other $14 million Long Island homeThe Daily Mail, December 6, 2012
  12. Jump up^ “Lloyd Blankfein Was a History Major. Just Sayin'”Bloomberg. January 22, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  13. Jump up to:a b “The World’s Most Powerful People: #26 Lloyd Blankfein”Forbes. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  14. Jump up^ “Blankfein Offers Billionaire NBA Owners Advice as Stern Exits”. Bloomberg.
  15. Jump up^ Cohan, William D. “Goldman’s Alpha War”The Hive. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  16. Jump up^ Cohan, William D. “Goldman’s Alpha War”The Hive. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  17. Jump up^ “Lloyd C. Blankfein Chairman and Chief Executive Officer”Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  18. Jump up^ “Where Blankfein came from”Fortune. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  19. Jump up^ “Where Blankfein came from”Fortune. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  20. Jump up^ “Wall Street’s Succession Moment Marks End of the Lloyd & Jamie Show” 2018-03-15. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  21. Jump up^ “Wall Street’s Succession Moment Marks End of the Lloyd & Jamie Show” 2018-03-15. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  22. Jump up^ News, A. B. C. (2010-01-12). “Choice Banker Quotes: ‘Tell Tim Geithner to Get F**ked'”ABC News. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  23. Jump up^ Wearden, Graeme (2009-11-18). “Goldman Sachs boss says sorry over financial crisis”the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  24. Jump up^ Labaton, Stephen (2008-10-02). “Agency’s ’04 Rule Let Banks Pile Up New Debt”The New York TimesISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  25. Jump up^ “Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein Named Financial Times Person Of The Year”The Huffington Post. Retrieved December 25, 2009.
  26. Jump up^ Kenney, Caitlin (January 13, 2010). “Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Day One”. NPR.
  27. Jump up^ Quinn, James (April 28, 2010). “Goldman boss Lloyd Blankfein denies moral obligation towards clients”The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved April 29, 2010.
  28. Jump up^ “Blankfein Hires Lawyer Weingarten for Justice Investigation”Bloomberg Businessweek. August 22, 2011. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  29. Jump up^ Schmidt, Robert (April 14, 2011). “Goldman Sachs Misled Congress After Duping Clients Over CDOs, Levin Says”Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  30. Jump up^ Witkowski, Wallace,“Goldman Sachs says Blankfein hires Weingarten: WSJ”MarketWatch, August 22, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  31. Jump up^ “The World’s Most Powerful People 2011 – Forbes”Forbes. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  32. Jump up to:a b Smith, Greg (March 14, 2012). “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs”The New York Times.
  33. Jump up^ Stewart, James B. (2012-10-19). “‘Why I Left Goldman Sachs,’ by Greg Smith, Falls Short”The New York TimesISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  34. Jump up^ “Lloyd Blankfein just confirmed Goldman Sachs’ hiring priorities for 2018”eFinancialCareers. 2018-02-13. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  35. Jump up^ “Goldman Says It Aims to Eventually Have a 50% Female Workforce” 2018-03-15. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  36. Jump up^ “Goldman Sachs | Press Releases – Email to Goldman Sachs Employees from Lloyd Blankfein and David Solomon”Goldman Sachs. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  37. Jump up^ Rojas, Claudio. “Eclipse of the Public Corporation Revisited: Concentrated Equity Ownership Theory”. The University of Oxford. Retrieved June 27, 2017. (“Founder centrism, an inclusive concept within Concentrated Equity Ownership (CEO) theory, integrates the capacity of both founder and non-founder senior leadership to adopt an owner’s mindset in traditionally structured corporations, such as Thomas J. Watson Sr. and Thomas Watson Jr. with IBM, Steve Jobs and Tim Cook with Apple, Jamie Dimon with JPMorgan Chase, Lloyd Blankfein with Goldman Sachs… and many others. In substance, all fall within the ambit of founder centrism”.)
  38. Jump up^ Anderson, Jenny (2006-12-20). “Goldman Chairman Gets a Bonus of $53.4 Million”The New York TimesISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  39. Jump up^ Anderson, Jenny (2006-12-20). “Goldman Chairman Gets a Bonus of $53.4 Million”The New York TimesISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  40. Jump up^ CEO Compensation for Lloyd C. Blankfein ArchivedFebruary 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.,
  41. Jump up^ “Goldman Chief Proposes Revamping Wall St. Pay”New York Times. April 7, 2009.
  42. Jump up^ Oran, Olivia. “Goldman awards CEO Blankfein $23 million in pay for 2015”. Reuters. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  43. Jump up^ Cohan, William D. (April 2015). “Wall Street Executives from the Financial Crisis of 2008: Where Are They Now?”Vanity Fair. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
  44. Jump up^ Hoffman, Liz; Lublin, Joann S. (March 9, 2018). “Lloyd Blankfein Prepares to Exit Goldman Sachs as Soon as Year’s End”. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  45. Jump up^ Lloyd Blankfein [@lloydblankfein] (9 March 2017). “It’s the @WSJ’s announcement…not mine. I feel like Huck Finn listening to his own eulogy” (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  46. Jump up^ “Wall Street’s Succession Moment Marks End of the Lloyd & Jamie Show” 2018-03-15. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  47. Jump up^ Hoffman, Liz (2018-03-15). “The Gamble That Put David Solomon on Top at Goldman Sachs”Wall Street JournalISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  48. Jump up^ Siegel, Rachel (2018-03-15). “Meet DJ D-Sol: the electronic music artist who might soon lead Goldman Sachs”Washington PostISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  49. Jump up^ “Goldman Says It Aims to Eventually Have a 50% Female Workforce” 2018-03-15. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  50. Jump up^ “Goldman Sachs Ushers In New Era as Solomon Takes CEO Reins” July 20, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  51. Jump up^ Blankfein, Lloyd (April 25, 2012). “Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein on Internal Review”Squawk on the Street(Interview). Interviewed by Gary Kaminsky. New York: CNBC. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  52. Jump up^ “Goldman Sachs Awards Executives”Washington Free Beacon. 2013-01-03. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  53. Jump up^ “NEWSMEAT ▷ Lloyd Blankfein’s Federal Campaign Contribution Report”. August 5, 2010. Archived from the original on February 5, 2010. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  54. Jump up^ “Goldman Sachs Awards Executives”Washington Free Beacon. 2013-01-03. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  55. Jump up^ “Goldman CEO Blankfein Said to Meet With Obama Adviser Lew”Bloomberg Businessweek. July 18, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  56. Jump up^ Eliza Collins (February 3, 2016) Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein: Sanders candidacy a ‘dangerous moment’ Politico
  57. Jump up^ Craig, Susanne (February 5, 2012). “Blankfein to Speak Out for Same-Sex Marriage”New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  58. Jump up^ Braithwaite, Tom (May 2, 2012). “Pro-gay stance cost Goldman, says Blankfein”Financial Times. London. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  59. Jump up^ “Libor ‘cannot continue unchanged'”BBC News. 2012-08-10. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  60. Jump up^ “Goldman Sach’s Blankfein Says Libor Scandal Undermines Trust”Bloomberg Businessweek. July 18, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  61. Jump up^ Lloyd Blankfein [@lloydblankfein] (1 June 2017). “Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.’s leadership position in the world. #ParisAgreement” (Tweet). Archived from the original on 26 November 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2017 – via Twitter.
  62. Jump up^ “Head of Goldman Sachs Gave $11-Million in Past Decade”The Chronicle of Philanthropy. 2010-03-25. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  63. Jump up^ Center, Foundation. “Blankfein Foundation Gave More Than $1.7 Million in 2009”Philanthropy News Digest (PND). Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  64. Jump up^ “Board of Directors”Partnership for New York City. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  65. Jump up^ “Board of Overseers”Weill Cornell Medical College. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  66. Jump up^ Rivard (December 12, 2014). “All in the Family”Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  67. Jump up^ “Laura Jacobs Engaged To Lloyd C. Blankfein”The New York Times. May 15, 1983. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
  68. Jump up^ Julia La Roche, Hey Look, Lloyd Blankfein’s Kids Are On InstagramBusiness Insider, July 27, 2012
  69. Jump up^ de la Merced, Michael J. (September 22, 2015). “Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs C.E.O., Has Lymphoma”The New York Times. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  70. Jump up^ Belvedere, Matthew J. (February 3, 2016). “Goldman’s Blankfein: US economy not off rails”CNBC. Retrieved October 18, 2016Bald and without his beard, the 61-year-old Blankfein also talked about battling cancer. He said he’s feeling “pretty good” after undergoing “like 600 hours of chemo” over the last few months.
  71. Jump up^ “How Goldman Sachs’ CEO Beat Cancer”Fortune. October 18, 2016. Retrieved October 18, 2016.