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Goldman Sachs CIO Martin Chavez Comes to Code/Enterprise

Behind the world-leading financial institution is a world-beating software team.

Via Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs is best known as one of the world’s preeminent banking and investment institutions, and less about the technology infrastructure on which it relies.

But if you were to look under the hood you’d see a technology practice worthy of some of the world’s top software companies.

Martin Chavez is Goldman’s chief information officer. He heads up its largest single division, a technology army of more than 10,000 engineers spread out over 44 offices in 15 countries, who build the software that solves some of the most complex problems facing the financial world. That makes him a natural fit for our next Code/Enterprise Series event in New York on Sept. 29.

Chavez has shaken up Goldman’s views on tech. He is a big believer in open source software — he prefers to “download, build or buy,” in that order, when contemplating a software move. If a suitable open source application can’t be found, he’d rather build one internally than buy one from a commercial vendor.

He has been doing exactly this for decades. In the 1990s as COO of Goldman’s equities trading business, he led the development of an internal software system that came to be known as Marquee. The system is still in use, and its first name is “Marty.”

He is a computer scientist at heart and has a master’s degree from Harvard in that field; he then went on to get a PhD in medical information sciences at Stanford. He joined Goldman in 1993 in its currency and commodities division, but left after four years for a stint at Credit Suisse running its energy derivates business. In 2000 he started his own software company, Kiodex, which specialized in risk management, and sold it to SunGuard in 2004.

About that time he thought he’d retire to Fire Island. That was when Gary Cohn, Goldman’s president, called. The purpose of Cohn’s call, as Chavez told Fortune, was to inform Chavez — not to ask — that he was returning to Goldman as head of its powerful “strats” group. Dubious at first, Chavez took the job only after meditating about it at a monastery in New Mexico.

He was promoted to CIO in 2013 after an infamous software glitch caused tens of millions of dollars worth of losses in erroneous trades. Since then he has become known inside Goldman for making the case that technology isn’t an “enabler” of Goldman’s business but something that the company delivers to its clients. Goldman Sachs posted $35 billion in revenue last year.

Chavez is one of two speakers we’ve announced for the Code/Enterprise Series event. The other is Todd McKinnon, CEO of the cloud startup Okta. We’ll be announcing additional speakers very soon, so stay tuned. Registration is open, and you can find all the information you need here. We hope to see you there.

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