David Solomon is set to become CEO of Goldman Sachs. While Solomon may spend his days negotiating deals and spearheading one of the world’s most powerful investment banks, he has a surprising second gig. He is also a part-time EDM DJ. He spins at various New York and Miami nightclubs under the nickname DJ D-Sol.
David Solomon states that he began his DJ career as a hobby. Previously, he was interested in EDM music and the nightlife industry and saw it as a growing business. Now he just does it for fun.
The New York Times first reported on his DJ career. He has played at the Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles. DJ D-Sol dressed in all black and wore thick white headphones and white sneakers. He taps his right leg to the beat of his EDM remix as his right hand gently manipulates a board of sound dials and cables. Orange strobe lights reflect off his head.
In a post on Instagram, DJ D-Sol sports a pink hat and a gray t-shirt, focusing intently on the screens and dials churning out the beat. He seems wholly unfazed by the scene right below him: a glistening Bahamas beach and a patio filled with tan, bikini-clad tourists hoisting drinks and selfie-sticks.
Last September, the financer joined a roster of DJs performing at the MTV Europe Music Awards hosted in London. He described the event as a “Great night and a great show,” on Instagram.
Relatively speaking, Solomon has a small following. Currently, his DJ D-Sol Instagram account has about 4,212 followers. But some who haven’t seen him perform seemed to need proof of his other persona.
In March, he teamed up with SiriusXM DJ and producer Liquid Todd to perform at an outdoor pool party at the ritzy W Hotel in downtown Miami.
He recently performed at a New Year’s Eve party in the Bahamas. He also played at the Manhattan nightclub Up&Down, where he came on stage at 11 p.m.
To show just how seriously he takes his craft, Solomon posted a photo on his Instagram with the caption: “Starting to play around with vinyl. Old school and lots to learn but very cool.” These days, most DJs use either laptops or digital turntables.
Sebastian Norena, director of special events at the Butter Group, which owns Up&Down, said Solomon doesn’t just stick to one music format like hip-hop, top 40, or EDM. Instead, he uniquely mixes songs across many forms.
“David has the ability to bring people together and make them have a good time with his music, no matter who they are or how old they are,” Norena said.
Although it’s unclear whether Solomon receives payment for his musical performances, he is probably not in it for the money. According to career site Payscale, the average DJ makes roughly $40 an hour. In comparison, Solomon currently receives an annual salary of $1.85 million and yearly variable pay at Goldman Sachs. Additionally, filings show he received $10 million worth of restricted stock in early January.
Path to CEO
Solomon joined Goldman Sachs as a partner in 1999. Afte co-COO and co-president, Harvey Schwartz announced his retirement, Solomon became the firm’s sole president and chief operating officer. As a result, Solomon’s path to CEO is almost inevitable.
David Solomon took a winding route during his career. He majored in political science at Hamilton College. One of his first jobs out of school in the mid-1980s was selling commercial paper and junk bonds at Drexel Burnham Lambert. This firm went bankrupt in 1990 for its involvement in Milken’s criminal junk bonds trading scheme.
After Drexel collapsed, Solomon moved to now-defunct Bear Stearns. There, he rose to become head of the firm’s investment banking division. In 1999, Solomon took a risk by jumping to Goldman. David Solomon describes this move as, “a step back”. He states, “I was running a division of a firm and I went and I took a job running a department.”
Solomon came to Goldman right after a moment of palace intrigue. Hank Paulson, then Goldman’s co-chairman, had helped stage a coup against fellow co-chair Jon Corzine in 1999. He pushed him out of the company. Corzine was later elected U.S. senator and then governor of New Jersey. Paulson ran Goldman for eight years before leaving to become Treasury secretary under George W. Bush.
David Solomon’s Career at Goldman Sachs
Although Solomon was an outsider and Goldman Sachs had a reputation for promoting internally, he climbed up the ranks at Goldman. Eventually, beginning in 2006, he headed up its investment banking unit. He remained in this position for over a decade. During this time, the division’s sales rose 70%.
David Solomon has been described as Goldman Sachs “culture guy”. He has promoted gender diversity at the firm. He also pushed to improve working hours for young employees and emphasized work-life balance.
Jake Siewert, the global head of corporate communications at Goldman Sachs made the following statement about David Solomon:
David’s always believed that having a wide range of outside interests leads to a balanced life and makes for a better career. He’s preached that regularly to younger employees in the firm and tries to lead by example.
Gary Cohn left Goldman to become President Trump’s chief economic adviser. Then, along with Harvey Schwartz, Solomon was promoted to president. The two were competing internally for the top job until Schwartz resigned on Monday, clearing the way for Solomon.
Solomon was the “better choice out of the two,” said William Cohan, a financial reporter and author of the 2011 book “Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World”. “He was more politic [and] gregarious. He was more statesmanlike.”
Future for Goldman Sachs
Since the financial crisis a decade ago, Goldman Sachs significantly recovered under Blankfein. Still, the company will face challenges.
Blankfein was Goldman’s former trading chief and the bank has relied heavily on client fees from its trading desk. This includes buying and selling bonds, commodities, and currencies. This unit made up more than half of revenue in 2012. However, it shrunk to a little over a third last year. The combination of market calm, low-interest rates, and tighter financial regulations have pushed investors to shift money into a low-fee index and passive funds. Goldman Sachs financials suffered as a result.
Goldman unveiled a $5 billion revenue growth plan last year. This included expanding its online consumer lending business and bolstering ties with corporate clients. KBW analyst Brian Kleinhanzl noted that Solomon was more aligned with those initiatives than Schwartz.
Wells Fargo analyst Mike Mayo said the following:
The challenge and opportunity is for Goldman to better leverage the strong CEO relationships cultivated and maintained by David Solomon.
Solomon also thinks the market will swing back in Goldman Sachs favor as well. Last September, he made the following statement:
Some of this is a cycle that in a different environment with higher volatility, higher rates, you’ll see a shift back where active managers can find ways to add value.