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Bankers leave Goldman Sachs for Uber

Three bankers have left their positions in the technology investment banking group of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in San Francisco in favor of positions at UberTechnologies Inc.

According to reports, the mid-level bankers, Ian Kleinfield, Prabir Adarkar and Chris Lapointe, are three of many to leave Wall Street for opportunities in successful startups launched in Silicon Valley.

Ian Kleinfeld, one of the three bankers listed in the report, listed on his Linkedin profile that in his new position in Uber’s corporate development division he is currently “focusing on strategic M&A and corporate capital raising,” a position distinct from his mid-level banking at Goldman Sachs.

Although spokespeople for both Uber and Goldman Sachs have yet to comment, there is grand speculation supporting the three bankers’ departures from the leading global investment bank.  Smaller startup companies offer more enticing schedules, stock options, share grants and more opportunity for promising positions.

Career moves from large banks to tech startups are exemplified by bankers such as Chelsea Cooper, who was also a mid-level banker at Goldman Sachs for four years before her hire at Uber in 2012. Once involved with Uber, she launched the application in the United Kingdom and became general manager of the company’s operations there.

Recruiters have pointed out that although mid-level corporate development employees may earn significantly less than a vice president at an investment, there are many incentives with startups. Tech startups often grow quickly in size, so getting a position at such a company early promises quick career growth. Working at a new tech company also boasts a balanced lifestyle for employees when contrasted with working for in the banking industry.

Uber Technologies Inc. is valued at approximately $51 billion, making it one of the largest privately owned tech startups. The company provides an international smartphone application designed to match people in need of a ride with Uber drivers. Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp founded the company in 2009. The ride service giant often hires bankers for corporate development. The company seeks bankers who can concoct various strategies, handle financial transactions (such as capital funding) and lead operations in various locations.

Even though Uber has yet to go public, the technology is effectively operating at the large-scale status and financial complexity of a public company, with equity and debt numbers in the billions.

CEO and founder Kalanick said at a recent event, “We’re maturing as a company, but we’re still like eighth graders. We’re in junior high. And someone’s telling us we need to go to the prom, but it’s a little early. Give us a few years.”  The company is expected to go public within the next two years.

Goldman Sachs is noted to have lost numerous employees in the past to startups like Uber, private equity firms and a great number of companies.  In the past, Uber has hired numerous employees from Goldman’s technology investment banking group, including finance chief Gautam Gupta and corporate development head Cameron Poetzscher. Because Goldman Sachs has helped the Uber Company raise $1.6 billion by selling convertible securities to Goldman wealth management clients this year, it is evident that numerous bankers of the investment bank are well-informed of Uber’s financial status.

Uber has relationships with a number of other Wall Street banks, including Morgan Stanley. Goldman Sachs is among the top 10 companies that Uber recruits from, ahead of even large technology firms including, but not limited to: Twitter Inc, Oracle Corp, Intel Corp, Microsoft and Facebook.

The reason for Uber’s choice to recruit from from Goldman Sachs is the latter’s strength in technology banking. According to Dave Carvajal, founder and CEO of tech recruiting firm, Dave Partners, “If someone has made it through the Goldman Sachs process, you know they are a high-caliber hire.”

Carvajal’s words emphasize the particular attention Goldman Sachs gives to its potential employees during their stringent screening process as well as the value of the company itself.  It is to be noted that as of this year, Goldman Sachs has advised technology companies on more merger deals than any other company thus far. Recruiters have also pointed out that former Goldman employees with expertise on the engineering side have played important roles as well in creating the formulas that Uber uses to determine how much it should charge for rides at any given time based on demand.

In an effort to retain more junior employees, Goldman Sachs has laid out a series of new initiatives to attract junior analysts and associates, including promotions, less menial work and more opportune experiences.

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