The $7 Billion Man

Came across this article in the WSJ…a good review of Blackstone’s CEO Steven Schwarzman, who is about to cash in on the IPO of his private equity group. Schwarzman has faced criticism for his excesses, but there is no denying his success. Some excerpts below:

“Stephen Schwarzman, who stands 5-foot-6, describes himself as a scrappy “little man” who finds ways to win. When he pursues deals as the chief executive of Blackstone Group, he says, he wants to “inflict pain” on and “kill off” his rivals.

Later this month, the giant buyout firm intends to go public, offering many investors their first opportunity to share the kill. If there was ever a doubt about what investors will be buying, a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday cleared that up: Mr. Schwarzman utterly dominates the firm. He stands to pocket as much as $677.2 million, and will retain a 23 percent stake in Blackstone, likely to be worth more than $7.5 billion.”

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“Mr. Schwarzman is exacting in his personal life too…He expects lunches consisting of cold soup, a cold entree such as lobster salad or fresh grilled tuna on salad, followed by dessert, Mr. Zeugin says. He eats the three-course meal within 15 minutes, the chef says. Mr. Zeugin says he often spends $3,000 for a weekend of food for Mr. Schwarzman and his wife, including stone crabs that cost $400, or $40 per claw. (Mr. Schwarzman says he had no idea how much the crabs cost.)”

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“The seeds of Mr. Schwarzman’s approach to business were sown in Philadelphia. There, as a 15-year-old, he worked weekends in his family’s store, called Schwarzman’s. He says he urged his father to open more stores, and grew frustrated when his dad, content with their middle-class lifestyle, refused. His grandfather, who opened the business, “said I should keep folding towels and handkerchiefs and stand up straight and protect the good name of Schwarzman’s,” he recalls. “I didn’t want to be a retailer. I hated to wait on people.

In school, Mr. Schwarzman ran track and played basketball. To compensate for his size, former teammates say, he drew up complicated basketball plays and strategies. Later, for intramural soccer games at Harvard Business School, he devised “elaborate triangular formations that were not flawed in conception but that nobody was capable of executing,” says Jeffrey Rosen, Mr. Schwarzman’s roommate and now a deputy chairman of investment bank Lazard Freres & Co.

Mr. Schwarzman says he was president of his junior-high and high-school classes; that he was on the podium on Class Day at Yale; and that he was president of the prestigious Century Club at Harvard Business School. “I’m a consistent little person,” he says of his leadership qualities.

As a student at Yale, while working as a waiter at an alumni reunion, he met William Donaldson of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. Mr. Donaldson invited him to work at the securities firm one summer. After graduate school at Harvard, he went to work at Lehman Brothers. He rose quickly through the ranks to become head of mergers and acquisitions. His last assignment was to sell Lehman itself.”

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