Goldman Sachs is Wall Street’s biggest unicorn herder

Another satisfied client.
Another satisfied client.
Image: Reuters/Mike Blake
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Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has said that his bank is a technology company. More specifically, he could say that Goldman is a technology venture capital firm.

For the past five years, the Wall Street bank has been the biggest investor in tech startups of any Fortune 500 company outside the technology industry, according to CB Insights:

The bank’s startup investments include the likes of Uber and Spotify. Its portfolio is also packed with the most unicorns—private companies worth more than $1 billion—of any Fortune 500 non-tech company. BlackRock, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan are in the top five as well, according to CB Insights.

Goldman’s tech investments helped cushion the blow of a decline in its trading business last quarter. The bank said revenue from its lending and investing portfolio increased by $465 million in the quarter, citing a “significant increase in net gains from private equities.” The bank doesn’t provide a lot of information about those investments, but in 2015 it said tech, media, and telecommunications accounted for 19% of its $19 billion private investment portfolio.

Goldman also leads in investments in finance-focused startups, which provide services like trading analytics, according to research firm Opimas. The bank has made 15 investments in that sector this year, compared with nine for JPMorgan.

Startup investing has been lucrative for Goldman, but it has non-monetary benefits as well, like helping the 148-year-old New York bank stay attuned to technology developments in Silicon Valley. And given that Goldman reportedly employs more developers and engineers than traders and bankers, it could also help the bank attract something just as important as capital: Talent.