The Rapid Ascent of Goldman Sachs & Co.

By Phin Upham

Marcus Goldman founded the firm we know today as Goldman Sachs in 1869. Goldman began the firm with his son-in law, Samuel Sachs. The present name, which added “& Co.” came in 1885 when Goldman’s son and other son-in-law joined the firm. When it hit the New York Stock exchange in 1898, the firm’s capital was almost $2 million, a sign that rapid growth was imminent.

Goldman formally entered the market of IPOs in the year 1906, signaled by a few big time deals. Sears, Roebuck and Company went public under Goldman, as did Woolworths and Continental Can. This first deal was all thanks to connections. Henry Goldman was good friends with Julius Rosenwald, so Rosenwald hired Goldman Sachs, & Co to take Sears public.

43 years after the firm’s inception, the company accepted its first non-family member and non-Jewish member into its ranks. His name was Henry S. Bowers.

Tensions forced Henry Goldman to resign a short time later. War time was brewing, and politics threatened to split the family. Henry Goldman took a pro-German stance to the first World War, a move that frustrated the rest of the partners. He was forced out to make way for the Sachs family to take control.

Goldman is no stranger to controversy. It almost flopped during the Great Depression because it was allegedly engaged in insider trading, a practice some still accuse the firm of today.

Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Twitter page.