Dustin Cohn, Executive Marketing Director
Goldman Sachs’ consumer banking brand chief Dustin Cohn has joined real estate investment startup Cadre as chief marketing officer, CNBC has learned.
The departure of Cohn, who is credited with helping to name the company’s consumer division Marcus in 2016, is the latest in a wave of exits from the New York-based bank over the past 14 months.
Cohn joins other former executives, including Omer Ismail and David Stark, in leaving Goldman as part of plans to expand its retail banking business. Some left to help direct competitors, as was the case with Ismail and Stark, who fled to help Walmart create a fintech startup. Others, like former Marcus leader Harit Talwar, have stepped down to make way for a new generation of leaders.
Cohn, who called his departure from Goldman “completely amicable,” is joining an 8-year-old startup at a critical time, according to Cohn and Executive co-founder Ryan Williams.
Cadre, which allows individuals to take equity stakes in commercial real estate, is one of the most important players in a group of start-ups seeking to broaden access to asset classes once considered the domain institutional investors or wealthy families.
The startups hope to achieve what Robinhood did for stocks and what Coinbase did for crypto – harness the potential of millions of ordinary Americans to create or expand a retail investment category.
“My goal for Marcus was to create awareness that this new consumer business existed even for this affluent audience,” Cohn said in an interview Tuesday. “For me, Cadre is a very similar opportunity in the world of commercial real estate, where the average investor really doesn’t know much about it up front, let alone actually having access to those low fees. high and at those low entry points.”
After poaching Cohn from Goldman — who is both an investor and a partner of Executive — the startup will begin ramping up marketing and introducing new products aimed at smaller investors, Williams said.
While it might be easier to just focus on big investors like family offices or endowments, that wouldn’t fit with Cadre’s mission, said Williams, who worked in the financial industry before. to co-found Cadre in 2014.
“I grew up in working class Baton Rouge, Louisiana,” Williams said. “I never had access to the asset class, but through my experiences at Goldman and Blackstone more recently, I just saw how lucrative the space was, but how inaccessible it was for the most people.”
Ryan Williams, co-founder and CEO of RealCadre LLC (Cadre), listens during the Skybridge Alternatives (SALT) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 9, 2019.
Joe Buglewicz | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Cadre initially started with larger investors and required a minimum stake of $250,000; after lowering that amount to $25,000, the company hopes to lower the minimums closer to $2,500, according to the CEO.
The company’s investment committee focuses on three classes of real estate in about 15 U.S. markets: multi-family apartment buildings, industrial properties like warehouses, and niche office space like suburban buildings, said Williams.
Cadre said he has closed more than $4.5 billion in real estate transactions and produced returns of more than 18% on property sales. Unlike some competitors in the space, Cadre has yet to lose any investor money, Williams said.
“We don’t take insane risks like others do, and we think that’s the right way for people to get into the asset class,” Williams said. “We have never lost principle or investor capital.”
An IPO could be in 12 to 18 months, after the company introduces new products, including ways to invest in real estate debt or even new categories like logging, Williams said. Cadre commissioned a study of 1,181 consumers, finding that nearly three-quarters were interested in investing in commercial real estate, but nearly all had never done so.
Cadre has raised funds from investors including Andreessen Horowitz and Jared and Josh Kushner, who are also co-founders of the startup. Although the Kushners remain investors, Cadre said Jared Kushner has not been involved in the deals since Kushner joined the Trump administration as an adviser.
Meanwhile, Cohn’s departure also comes at a crucial time for the Marcus brand.
Starting with personal loans and deposits, Goldman has added credit cards and home improvement loans to its portfolio and is working on a digital checking account for the masses. Then, late last year, the company announced it was tweaking its branding to display the Goldman name more prominently, calling it Goldman Sachs Marcus.
Cohn, who said his “personal name is Marcus,” called the change a validation of his tenure at the bank. In 2015, Goldman’s name “revoked some of the negativity that people have towards Goldman Sachs,” he said.
“Here we are, almost seven years later, and the Goldman Sachs brand is at an all-time high with these consumers,” Cohn said. “It’s largely because we gave them valuable products to help them achieve their goals.”