By Andrew Nusca and David Meyer
March 13, 2018

Good morning. Fortune digital editor Andrew Nusca here, filling in for Alan.

Ch-ch-changes are underway at some of America’s oldest corporations and it’s a tale of two witties. (Witty CEOs, that is.)

On Monday Goldman Sachs, 148 years young, announced that David Solomon would succeed Lloyd Blankfein as its CEO. Blankfein served in Goldman’s top spot for more than 12 years and his tenure features both the 2008 financial crisis (and multimillion-dollar settlements with the government over allegations that Goldman had lied to investors) as well as all-time highs for its stock price. The Cheshire cat of capitalism will depart sometime this year having executed a smooth succession plan, grown a gray everyman beard, and rehabilitated, at least in part, the image of a New York investment bank memorably described in 2009 as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” Goldman stock ended up on the Blankfein news.

On the same day DowDuPont announced that longtime Dow Chemical leader Andrew Liveris would step down as executive chairman by the end of the month after a 14-year tenure at the 121-year-old company. (Or 216 years if you tap DuPont’s history, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.) Jim Fitterling will become CEO of Dow once today’s conglomerate splits; Jeff Fettig will assume Liveris’ executive chairman role. The mustachioed Liveris leaves Dow having made multibillion-dollar bets on American energy, survived two activist investor battles, and dramatically reshaped a company nearly sunk by the financial crisis. “In a world of mediocre to bad corporate leaders, Mr. Liveris stands out,” wrote Spencer Jakab in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, citing the underperformance of Dow stock compared to the S&P 500 since Liveris took control. DowDuPont shares ended down on the Liveris news.

Over more than a decade, two corporate transformations led by affable (and unshaven) executives: one relatively tranquil, one unapologetically turbulent. Just goes to show that taking the helm of a century-old company is no guarantee of smooth sailing.

Oh, and speaking of great American corporations: IBM, the baby of this group at 107 years old, released its annual report for 2017 late Monday and CEO Ginni Rometty has declared IBM’s transition to the cloud and cognitive services “largely complete.” (It recently ended a 22-quarter streak of revenue declines.) “The incumbents of the world understand that they can be the new disruptors,” she writes of her company’s established industry peers, “and they are going on offense to seize this opportunity and to capture this moment.” IBM shares didn’t budge in after-hours trading.

More news below.

Andrew Nusca


You May Like