A college major in philosophy and political science (Emory University, 1996) wouldnt ordinarily point toward a career in financial technology, but it did for Darren Cohen, global head of principal strategic investments (PSI) at Goldman Sachs Group. Cohen is on his second tour with the New Yorkbased bank: He started in 2000 as a software and technology sector analyst in London and returned in 2007 after four years covering software and technology services and surfacing investment ideas for Calypso Capital Management, a New Yorkbased hedge fund. Over his years following fintech, the pace of change, investment technology, the whole landscape has accelerated, says the 42-year-old. (Thomas Jessop, No. 8 last year, who reported to Cohen in the PSI group, has since moved into a technology business development role at Goldman.) Examples of PSI holdings, generally defined as technologically disruptive and strategically related to capital market activities, are market analytics platform Kensho Technologies and Symphony Communication Services, the secure messaging and collaboration venture that was spun out of Goldman. Motif, a retail trading platform, and machine-learning analytics company Context Relevant are among more than 70 holdings in the Goldman portfolio, which, Cohen contends, is one of the biggest in the fintech world. The company has always viewed technology as critical and has always been aggressive with technology because it affects how we make markets with our own clients, he says. The PSI team has been at the epicenter of most of the major market structure events in our industry. The profile of co-investors has changed: They increasingly tend to be West Coast venture capital firms and buy-side clients rather than investment banks. Facing heightened regulation and other market headwinds, he says, firms have realized over the past two years that disrupting financial technology is harder than the hype suggests.
The 2016 Fintech Finance 35 Click below to view profiles