Goldman’s Spate of Senior Tech Exits Widens With Blum Departure

(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. marked a new era for its technology team late last year by bringing in a pair of top outside executives to take the place of longtime veterans. The firm probably didn’t expect the change to be quite so rapid.

Three top tech leaders in the bank’s biggest division have informed the firm in the past week that they’re leaving, according to people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be named discussing personnel matters. They headed some of the firm’s biggest growth efforts, as Goldman Sachs wagered that getting ahead of rivals on technology it could offer trading clients would reverse a years-long slide in revenue.

Goldman’s Spate of Senior Tech Exits Widens With Blum Departure

That effort was a major focus of Chief Executive Officer David Solomon’s strategy laid out at the firm’s first investor day just a week ago. Solomon, who took the helm in October 2018 after largely rising through the investment banking unit, has seen a number of senior exits in the trading division as he elevated dealmakers to new roles. But even amid that backdrop, the string of departures from a strategically important area is unusual for the elite firm.

Mike Blum, the former tech chief at high-frequency trading specialist KCG Holdings Inc., informed Goldman Sachs of his decision to step down as chief technology officer for electronic trading, the people said. He follows Ezra Nahum, Goldman’s chief of engineering and operations, and Adam Korn, head of engineering. This week the bank also lost Rana Yared, who invested the firm’s own money in several fledgling tech ventures.

The departures will add to the pressure on the firm’s co-chief information officers, Marco Argenti and George Lee, and its chief technology officer, Atte Lahtiranta, to build a team capable of delivering on those goals. Two of them are new themselves, with Argenti joining the bank from Inc. and Lahtiranta from Verizon Media Group, both last year. They helped fill the void of the exits of technology chief Elisha Wiesel and Marty Chavez, the original tech evangelist inside the trading division, who left after more than a combined 40 years at the bank.

Goldman “certainly made more visible moves to be a more modern tech-oriented firm. The question is will it work?” Mike Mayo, a bank analyst at Wells Fargo & Co., said in an interview. “The bear case would be the cultural integration of these Silicon Valley types isn’t as easy as it’s made out to be. But they also stressed the need for patience.”

This is the time of year when bonus payouts unleash a wave of personnel moves across Wall Street. Goldman Sachs hasn’t publicly announced replacements for any of the three executives leaving.

Blum has been closely involved with efforts to reshape the firm’s electronic-trading platform to serve large quant hedge funds. The aim is to then deploy those advancements across a larger set of business partners. Reducing trading time, processing more requests and spitting out faster responses to queries would help generate more trades and more business.

When Blum joined Goldman Sachs, an internal memo said he would help build “an optimized large-scale electronic-trading platform.”

At KCG, Blum oversaw the design and build-out of a trading and research platform. Earlier in his career, he was CTO at high-speed trading firm Teza Technologies. He also worked at Getco, a company that pioneered high-speed trading, and formed KCG in a merger with struggling Knight Capital Group Inc. in 2013. He previously was at UBS Group AG.

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