David Solomon, the current president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs, will take over from Lloyd Blankfein in the role of CEO in October 2018.
Blankfein has presided as CEO since 2006, before bitcoin existed. Over a decade later, in October 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that Goldman Sachs was considering setting up a bitcoin trading operation. But the day after the WSJ report, Blankfein tweeted:
A month later, he was quite a bit more negative about the currency, saying, "Something that moves 20% [overnight] does not feel like a currency. It is a vehicle to perpetrate fraud."
That negativity appears to have settled back into equanimity. Last month, during a talk at the Economic Club of New York, he stated that although he does not own bitcoin, "if it does work out, I could give you the historical path why that could have happened."
And although he declared then that "Goldman Sachs as far as I know … has no bitcoin," early in 2018, a Goldman-backed payments startup, Circle, acquired cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex. The involvement was interpreted as a potential step toward cryptocurrency acceptance by the investment giant.
The appointment of David Solomon, who currently serves as president and chief operating officer, may signal that Goldman Sachs intends to more seriously pursue cryptocurrency trading, given his relatively positive – though circumspect – public statements on cryptocurrencies.
"We are clearing some futures around bitcoin, talking about doing some other activities there, but it's going very cautiously," Solomon told Bloomberg this June. "We're listening to our clients and trying to help our clients as they're exploring those things too."
When questioned, he said the company must "evolve its business and adapt to the environment."
Solomon is not a stereotypical Wall Street figure. He is also an electronic DJ who uses the stage name D-Sol and has over 10,000 Instagram followers as "djdsolmusic." On Spotify he boasts over 500,000 monthly listeners.
"I don't know whether seeing a president of Goldman Sachs spinning tunes at a club is going to change the perception of the industry," he said in a Goldman Sachs podcast in 2017. "We have got a lot of work to do on that front."
One thing that could change the perception of the industry is if Goldman Sachs were to actively pursue cryptocurrency trading. Since the US Securities and Exchange Commission approved a framework last month for potential bitcoin-based exchange traded funds, any Goldman action on this front could generate new investment in cryptocurrency. Despite his relatively mild statements on crypto, perhaps Solomon's appointment is the market signal institutional investors have been waiting for.