Bloomberg, Michael R.

views updated


BLOOMBERG, MICHAEL R. (1942– ), founder of Bloomberg lp, philanthropist, and mayor of New York. Born in Medford, Mass., where his father was the bookkeeper at a local dairy, Bloomberg evinced a thirst for information and technology that led him to Johns Hopkins University, where he parked cars and took out loans to finance his education. After his college graduation, he gained an M.B.A. from Harvard and in 1966 was hired by Salomon Brothers to work on Wall Street. He rose quickly and became a partner in 1972. Soon after he was supervising all of Salomon's stock trading, sales, and its information systems.

When Salomon was acquired by another company in 1981, Bloomberg was ousted. But he used his stake from the Salomon sale to start his own company, an endeavor that would revolutionize the way Wall Street does business. As a young trader, Bloomberg felt that the information-gathering process was archaic, relying on penciled notations in oversize ledgers. On his own, and with the financial backing of Merrill Lynch, he created a financial information computer that would collect and analyze different combinations of past and present securities data and deliver it immediately to the user. In 1982 the company sold 20 subscriptions to its service; 20 years later Bloomberg lp had more than 165,000 subscribers worldwide.

In 1990 the company entered the media business, starting a news service and then radio, television, Internet, and publishing operations. It employed more than 8,000 people, including 2,500 in New York City, in more than 100 offices. As the company grew, Bloomberg dedicated more of his time to philanthropy and civic affairs. He gave to projects to improve education, advance medical research, and increase access to the arts. He donated money to a variety of Jewish causes, including the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish World Service, and served on the board of the American Friends of the Israel Museum. He financed programs for victims of domestic violence in New York City, supported construction of new high school athletic fields, and served on the boards of 20 civic, cultural, educational, and medical institutions. He served as chairman of the board of trustees of Johns Hopkins until 2002, and the university named its School of Hygiene and Public Health for him. In 1997 he published his autobiography, Bloomberg by Bloomberg.

In 2001, Bloomberg, a long-time Democrat, decided to run for mayor of New York as a Republican, to succeed Rudolph Giuliani, who was barred from seeking re-election. Despite putting $50 million of his own money into the campaign, Bloomberg was a decided underdog, but he received a last-minute endorsement from Giuliani, who became nationally known for his handling of a city in crisis after terrorists struck on Sept. 11, 2001. Bloomberg, who had never run for public office before, won handily against a splintered Democratic Party. Among his first acts as mayor was to ban smoking in bars and clubs, and he also launched a campaign against street vendors.

During the campaign, Bloomberg said that antisemitism had never been a factor in his life. "I don't know whether when I didn't get an opportunity it was because of that or something else," he said. "But if there is anyone who has not been ashamed of their last name, it's me. We do business throughout the world and it has never been an issue, even in the Middle East."

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]