An asteroid just passed earth. It had £3.7trillion worth of platinum on board. Goldman Sachs wants to mine that platinum.
The multinational financial company holds futuristic visions of tomorrow, starting with the “realistic” goal of mining asteroids for trillions of dollars worth of platinum. But, the bank’s plans don’t end there. Goldman Sachs wants to transform its business model here on Earth via APIs – and, yes, the plan will cost human jobs.
Noting that asteroids can be rich in mineral platinum – which grows scarcer and scarcer here on earth – Goldman Sachs has carved out a plan to procure more for human resources in a plan of science-fiction proportions.
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Platinum, which costs $1 million per one thousand cubic centimeters, sits at just under $1,000 per troy ounce on terrestrial markets for investment bullion grade metal, which is referred to as the ‘rich man’s gold.’
“While the psychological barrier to mining asteroids is high, the actual financial and technological barriers are far lower,” reads a Goldman Sachs report. “Prospecting probes can likely be built for tens of millions of dollars each and Caltech (University) has suggested an asteroid-grabbing spacecraft could cost $2.6 billion [£2.1 billion].”
The firm adds: “Space mining could be more realistic than perceived.”
Goldman Sachs warns that mining asteroids for platinum could destroy platinum market dynamics, undermining the scarcity of metal, which is mainly mined in Russia and South Africa by workers paid very little.
“According to a 2012 Reuters interview with Planetary Resources, a single asteroid the size of a football field could contain $25bn- $50bn worth of platinum,” states Goldman Sachs. “Successful asteroid mining would likely crater the global price of platinum, with a single 500-meter-wide asteroid containing nearly 175X the global output, according to MIT’s Mission 2016.” This won’t deter Goldman Sachs.
“We expect that systems could be built for less than that given trends in the cost of manufacturing spacecraft and improvements in technology,” the investment bank surmises. “Given the capex of mining operations on Earth, we think that financing a space mission is not outside the realm of possibility.”
Further, Goldman Sachs’ deputy chief financial officer Marty Chavez portends a “radical future” for the Wall Street Bank back down on earth.
“We’re packaging everything we do, and actually, we’re redesigning the whole company, around APIs,” said the executive officer of the bank earlier this year.
Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs who once said the bank was doing “god’s work” felt Mr. Chavez needed a mentor.
Mr. Chavez, on his way to becoming the bank’s chief financial officer, received an email from Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
“Hey Marty, I’d like to come over to your office to introduce myself,” the tech executive wrote.
“We’ve been talking ever since about the similarities in the businesses,” Chavez told a group of computer scientists at the Harvard Institute for Applied Computational Science earlier in 2017. “Some of the similarities are aspirational, I have to emphasize that, and some are there right now.” The YouTube video of the talk was recently released, and has been viewed approximately 2,000 times.
“Goldman is for risk what Google is for search,” as Chavez sees it.”Google produces software services, and those software services aggregate the attention of billions of people, and then Google sells the attention of billions of people to advertisers.”
As for Goldman Sachs?
“A client has a risk they don’t want or wants a risk they don’t have, and we make it happen for them,” Chavez explained. “This is the fundamental truth of Goldman Sachs. If the clients stop calling and talking to us about risks they have but don’t want or want but don’t have, then we have no business whatsoever.”
Goldman Sach’s Data Lake, which pools data on transactions, markets, and investment research, as well as insights from emails, voice calls and instant messages. The bank applies machine learning to the data it accumulates. The result is a guide for employees.
“What really makes us valuable is the immense amount of data that we have,” Chavez said. “In this job of inspiring our clients to call us because they have risks they don’t want or want risks they don’t have, there is incredible information content, and using that for the benefit of the clients to get a better result is what we’re up to.” Mr. Chavez compared how Google operates to Wall Street’s status quo.
“Imagine if Google had gone a slightly different route and they said, ‘Every time somebody wants to do a search, they pick up the phone, call their Google salesperson, read the search terms to the Google salesperson, who types them into the internal Google search engine, gets the results, and then reads them back over the phone,’” he pictures.
He mentions: “That is not the route Google took. Unfortunately, that is a pretty good description of how Wall Street works.”
The new Goldman Sachs is based on APIs if Chavez, who highlights the success of Salesforce, eBay and Expedia API revenues, gets his way.
“Historically, the API has been human beings talking to other human beings over the telephone, and all the tools, the content, the analytics is on the internal platform only,” Chavez said. “We are shifting this radically and shifting this fast, and we’re packaging everything we do, and actually, we’re redesigning the whole company, around APIs.”
He adds: “We’re turning all of the verbs, all of the activities at Goldman Sachs, into APIs,” Chavez said. “One of the things we’re insisting on is a very high standard of lovely and impeccable documentation for these APIs, because we’re opening up the vertical monolith which used to have only one API point, which was human beings on the phone.”