Sidney Weinberg, Goldman Sachs Senior Director, Dies at 87
Weinberg, known as Jim, died on Oct. 4 of prostate cancer, according to a memo sent to Goldman Sachs employees by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein and President and Chief Operating Officer Gary D. Cohn. He “maintained his office at the firm and his influence upon our people until his death,” the memo said.
Although Weinberg was affiliated with Goldman Sachs for 45 years, he played a less prominent role at the firm than his late father, Sidney J. Weinberg, who was chief executive officer from 1939 to 1969, or his late brother, John L. Weinberg, who ran the company from 1976 until 1990.
Weinberg treasured privacy and argued successfully at a 1986 partners’ meeting against taking the firm public, according to the book “Goldman Sachs: The Culture of Success” by Lisa Endlich (Knopf, 1999).
“Jimmy told the group that the proposal made no sense. Goldman Sachs had a heritage, and he was on the side of preserving it,” Endlich wrote. “He would feel uncomfortable reading about partners in the newspapers, of having the details of their financial situation made available for public consumption.”
Goldman Sachs went public in 1999, later than many of its U.S. competitors, and 11 years after Weinberg retired from a full-time role at the company.
Joins Goldman Sachs
Sidney James Weinberg Jr. was born in Scarsdale, New York, on March 27, 1923. He served in the Philippines as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War II. Weinberg received a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and then a master’s in business administration from Harvard University in 1949. He worked as a vice president of the textile division at Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp., now Owens Corning Inc., before joining Goldman Sachs’s investment-banking department in 1965.
For a decade beginning in 1978, Weinberg ran the firm’s investment-banking services department, a unit created by former Goldman Sachs Co-Chairman John C. Whitehead to help manage client relationships and win business. Weinberg retired from the general partnership in 1988 when he turned 65. He remained a limited partner until the firm went public and then became a senior director.
“Jim was one of the most important culture carriers” at Goldman Sachs, Whitehead said in a telephone interview. “He was an advocate of team play, no internal ugly competition, service to customers, putting the customers’ interests before the firm’s interests and all of those good things that make a partnership.”
He was also the “model” banker for winning new business from clients, said Whitehead. “We had a lot of good ones, but I can’t say that anyone was his equal,” he said. “He had personality, judgment, knowledge of the products, and a good sales ability. His clients were his friends.”
Thomas S. Murphy, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Capital Cities/ABC Inc., was a close friend of Weinberg since they attended Harvard Business School together.
“His whole reputation in the business world was as a person of honesty and integrity,” said Murphy. “We had to sell a lot of things when we bought ABC, and he did a great job. You could really count on Jim.”
In his book on the history of Goldman Sachs, “The Partnership” (Penguin Press, 2008), author Charles D. Ellis described Weinberg as his younger brother’s “closest and most objective confidant and adviser on policy and strategy.”
“Jim Weinberg was consistently unpretentious, congenial, and insightful,” Ellis wrote. “He took subways and once, at a fabulous Los Angeles restaurant, asked the captain, ‘Don’t you have anything less expensive?’”
Stephen Friedman, a Goldman Sachs board member and a former chairman of the firm, remembered working with Weinberg when Friedman was a junior mergers and acquisitions banker.
“I’d watch Jim pace things, giving the client a chance to think and adjust to what he was saying,” Friedman said in a telephone interview. “He was quite good at the strategic pause.”
Weinberg’s success with clients was “no magic potion,” Friedman said. “He just had a great demeanor, and people would develop confidence in him because he wasn’t pandering to them, he would tell them what he thought.”
Identified With Clients
Robert E. Rubin, a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs who later became U.S. Treasury secretary and chairman of Citigroup Inc., also singled out Weinberg’s skill with customers.
“I watched Jim as he dealt with clients and I learned a lot about how to deal with people more generally,” Rubin said in a telephone interview. “He was very effective at relating to what they cared about and what their issues were and then really identifying with them and helping them solve their problems.”
For the last five years, Weinberg served on the board of directors of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm that was created in 1999. He was also a senior trustee of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, a life trustee of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and a trustee emeritus and former chairman of the board of trustees of Scripps College in Claremont, California.
Weinberg was also the founding chairman of the board of the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences in Claremont, California, and an honorary trustee and honorary member of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. In 2005, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Weinberg, who died at his home in Marion, Massachusetts, is survived by his wife of 59 years, Elizabeth “Betty” Houghton Weinberg; six children, Jay, Alan, Laurie, Betsy, Sydney and Peter, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.