After Julian Salisbury announced last summer that he was leaving Goldman Sachs to join Sixth Street, the chief investment officer of the bank’s $2.8 trillion asset and wealth management division was looking forward to an extended break. He spent part of his “garden leave” with his family in Hawaii, and in Costa Rica getting better at surfing.
In January, Salisbury was back to work, this time as a partner and the co-CIO at Sixth Street, the $75 billion alternative investment firm. “I didn’t consider another alternative investment firm. It was frankly this or start my own business. But I just looked at the success that they’d achieved and thought ‘they have a 15-year running start on me, right?’ It just seemed like a very natural fit,” Salisbury said in his first interview since joining Sixth Street.
It’s also a much better time to join an established organization. Had he decided to start his own firm, much of 2024 would have been spent doing the mundane necessities of starting an asset manager — finding an office, negotiating with benefits providers, and designing pitch books. The CIO, who says he loves investing above all, would have been sidelined.
For years when he thought about life after Goldman, Salisbury considered starting his own firm. He had ideas about the structure and feel of his new company. However, his vision wasn’t terribly original — one of his good friends, Alan Waxman, who had been CIO of Goldman’s largest proprietary trading business, had already created it.
“When I looked and thought about what I would want to build as an investment organization — what I would want it to look like, in terms of its focus, its ethos, its culture — Sixth Street just checked all the boxes. Alan had really built the firm that I would’ve wanted to build,” Salisbury told Institutional Investor. “Everybody wakes up every single day thinking about investing and generating great returns. That’s what we do. We don’t do other things. We don’t have other distractions.”
Sixth Street, which Waxman and other Goldman alumni co-founded in 2009, also has the scale to continue investing in people and technology to keep it growing, said Salisbury.
“There’s a sufficiency of infrastructure here; a lot of that stuff is dealt with, so I can really prioritize my time on investing and thinking about new platforms. And I think there’s just a lot of white space for an organization like this that has proven itself to be able to attract talent and build new businesses,” he added.
Sixth Street has expansion plans. Among the asset classes it already invests in, the firm is especially excited about real estate. In January, it hired Marcos Alvarado, president and CIO of Safehold and its predecessor iStar, to lead its U.S. real estate business. His first day was Feb. 1, in time to settle in before what many believe will be a period when private commercial real estate bottoms out and creates investment opportunities.
“I think real estate there is just tremendous stress in that system and it hasn’t even started to play out yet. I think that’s going to feed through during the course of this year. I don’t think people quite appreciate the magnitude of the value destruction that’s going to take place. And look, I think if you have capital such as ours, we can come in and be a true solutions provider, help provide the necessary capital to fix some of these balance sheets,” Salisbury said.