The Top 25: #22 Brian Hollins, Goldman Sachs

Brian Hollins, a growth equity investor at Goldman Sachs since July 2017, has been working at the US-based investment banking firm in various divisions for more than five years since he graduated in 2013.

In his current post, Hollins is a software growth equity investor in the merchant banking division, responsible for sourcing, modelling and diligence, deal execution and portfolio monitoring, investing directly from the bank’s balance sheet in tech-enabled software businesses.

Before this, he helped establish a system to help series A and B startups to navigate Goldman Sachs’ resources and network more efficiently, effectively linking promising ideas and capital.

Miyuki Matsumoto, a managing director at Goldman Sachs for 18 years until this spring, said: “Brian was one of the best people I worked with at Goldman Sachs, where I handpicked him to build our global emerging entrepreneurs coverage efforts.”

Hollins said he was proud to be the first African-American hire in the group’s 25-year history, and he “looks forward to continuing to open the door for other minorities interested in the CVC ecosystem”.

He is a founding member of BLCK VC, a community established in 2017 to bring together the resources, networks and ideas of black institutional investors, and raise the profile of black people in the venture community.

Asked why he joined the Goldman Sachs, Hollins said: “Goldman Sachs is a large organisation, and our resources and market presence can provide not just capital for companies, but significant validation of their product. In today’s environment, being a capital provider is not enough, and I have enjoyed being a part of an organisation that has demonstrated, over decades, an ability to drive value for businesses of all verticals and specialisations.”

Hollins said the move to venturing had been a challenge. “I do not have product or direct engineering experience,” he said. “It makes it more difficult to empathise with founders and has forced me to look elsewhere in connecting with founders and getting them to trust me.”

However, he said a lack of operating experience was a problem not just for himself but for the wider financial CVC community.

Concerning his future at Goldman Sachs, he said he hoped that in five years’ time, he could become a stronger enterprise software investor and lead more investments, such as Automation Anywhere and RingDNA, for the growth equity team. He also said he wanted to build a company focused on empowering millennials in the workforce to be more flexible in their pursuit of new jobs and careers.

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.