A Look Inside Wall Street's Innovation Labs

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein once quipped that his bank is a "technology firm." With the launch of Marcus, Goldman's online retail lender, the sell-side stalwart is one step closer to Silicon Valley. It's not alone. Across Wall Street, banks are pushing into technology, either by directly investing in startups such as internet lender OnDeck Capital, robo-advisor SigFig, and online financial planner LearnVest, or by boosting their in-house technology expertise. To do so, a number of firms are dedicating space both inside and outside of their main offices with the aim of fostering new ideas in a rapidly changing financial landscape. Here's a look at what the new generation of Wall Street’s "innovation labs" looks like.
Exposed brick at BNP Paribas
Exposed brick at BNP Paribas

BNP Paribas SA's innovation hub opened up on the 30th floor of the bank's Manhattan offices in early September. However, stepping off onto this floor proves unlike any other. Complete with brick walls, ample natural lighting and exposed ceilings, there it's a sharp contrast to the glass offices and cubicles more common on Wall Street.

Photographer: Christopher Goodney

Plus free drinks and snacks
Plus free drinks and snacks

BNP says they have been working on the design of the space since early 2016, visiting other innovation labs and startups to get ideas. The location includes lots of seating space, free drinks and vending machines full of snacks. Bruno d'Illiers, COO of BNP Paribas North America, says that while right now the new area is only used by the bank's own staff, letting startups come in is an option for the future.

 

Photographer: Christopher Goodney

Barclays space in Silicon Alley
Barclays space in Silicon Alley

Barclays Plc opened its "Rise" office in New York in July of 2015, describing it as "a physical space and virtual global community." Housed in Manhattan's Flatiron district, Rise is dedicated to fintech and happens to be just a few doors down from robo-advisor Betterment LLC. Rise members, whom are not directly employed by the bank, pay a monthly fee to use the office, much like a co-working location. There are about 30 to 40 companies that call Rise New York their home, according to Arian Lewis, Barclays' head of open innovation. There are 300 companies based in Rise locations globally, including London, Mumbai and Cape Town. Lewis adds that there is currently a waiting list for the New York hub. 

Photographer: Christopher Goodney

Open innovation
Open innovation

While Barclays employees are not based in this space, which is separate from the firm's New York hub, Matt Hooper, VP of Open Innovation at the bank said that its staff from both the tech and business side often visit. "We have over 100 employees that will come through this space over the course of roughly six weeks," Hooper said.

Photographer: Christopher Goodney

Techstars
Techstars

Rise will also house the Barclays Accelerator, a 13-week program for fintech startups, run in partnership with Techstars, as well as a number of other related events. "We bring 2,00 to 4,000 people here every month," Lewis added.

Photographer: Christopher Goodney

JPMorgan's neighborhoods
JPMorgan's neighborhoods

JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s. new technology hub is a 125,000-square-foot space that opened on Manhattan's West Side in December of 2015. As a way to make that large space easier to navigate, the firm divided it into five 'neighborhoods' for the more than 700 employees that call it their office. 

Photographer: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg

Foosball and fridges
Foosball and fridges

JPMorgan's innovation space looks like an upgraded startup in many ways. It's replete with foosball tables, a game room and fridges stocked with sodas and snacks (although they aren't free of charge) and it comes with an industrial yet modern vibe.

Photographer: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg

BNY Mellon in Jersey City
BNY Mellon in Jersey City

Bank of New York Mellon Corp.'s innovation space in Jersey City recently celebrated its two-year anniversary. Now housing upwards of 200 people on a given day, all of whom are BNY Mellon employees, it is a popular hub for the bank's digital transformation strategy. "We have a wait list for people wanting to sit in the space," said Matt Joseph, Head of the Jersey City Innovation Center. The firm also has labs set up in Silicon Valley, Pittsburgh, London and Pune and Chennai in India. 

Photographer: Christopher Goodney

Color-coding
Color-coding

BNY Mellon says they learn more with each additional location they open, experimenting with new ideas such as different-sized rooms and color coding offices for group collaboration. They also have various seating options including exercise balls and standing desks. 

Photographer: Christopher Goodney

Marcus by Goldman Sachs
Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Goldman's new consumer lending arm, known as Marcus, is housed on the 26th floor of the bank's headquarters at 200 West Street, near the Hudson River in Manhattan. Goldman's new fintech arm offers fixed-rate, no-fee personal loans of up to $30,000. The name is a nod to the firm's founder, Marcus Goldman. 

Photographer: Christopher Goodney

Livingroom
Livingroom

Marcus was originally based on the 28th floor but had to move to the 26th as it outgrew the space (It currently has about 100 employees in the New York office and 50 in Goldman's Salt Lake City call center). About 40 percent of its staff are internal hires, while 60 percent were poached from places like LendingClub Corp., Alphabet Inc. and PayPal Holdings Inc., according to Dustin Cohn, the head of brand management for Marcus (who himself came from PepsiCo Inc.). Team meetings and impromptu brainstorming sessions are said to be held in what's called the Marcus Livingroom.

Photographer: Christopher Goodney