Updated: Mar 23, 2020

Excerpted from:


Michael Rubens Bloomberg popped out his mother’s womb on Valentine’s Day in Medford, Massachusetts, in the year 1942. His mother’s career was as a secretary, and his father’s, an accountant. Both were Jewish Polish immigrants.

Bloomberg attended John Hopkins University and earned a B.S. in 1964 in electrical engineering. Harvard University came next for an M.B.A received in 1966.

Investment Bank Salomon Brothers offered him an entry-level job and by 1981 he led their block trading department as a general partner. Salomon Brothers was bought out by Phibro Corporation, a commodity trading firm, and became Salomon Inc., and Bloomberg’s share was $10M.

In 1982, Bloomberg applied his lump payout and experience to found Innovative Market Systems which was a financial data-services provider and destined to become Bloomberg LP. He led the company for nearly twenty years to become, along with rival Reuters, a global leader. The famous and ubiquitous Bloomberg computer terminal delivered comprehensive financial news and information source. Other holdings evolved into WBBR in New York City, a radio news station, the Bloomberg Business News wire service, and Bloomberg Television.

While running Bloomberg LP, Bloomberg sat on the boards of prominent cultural institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Central Park Conservancy, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the Jewish Museum. He donated $100 million to Johns Hopkins University, his alma mater.

Known to be intensely competitive, Bloomberg had a reputation for tyrannical outbursts. He browbeat employees and blacklisted any poor soul who was brave enough to depart from his firm Bloomberg LP, culture, albeit typical in the 1980s and through the 1990s, has been compared to that of a raucous fraternity. Staff allegedly bragged around the water cooler about their sexual conquests. He was accused as well of being abusive and sexist. Bloomberg LP was sued multiple times for sexual harassment. One alleged victim said she had been raped.

Bloomberg had been a lifelong Democrat but ran for mayor of New York City as a Republican in 2001, the year of 9/11. He was the 5th richest person in the United States at that time with $4.5B and invested $68M of his own money.

Outgoing Mayor Rudolph Giuliani endorsed Bloomberg, a boon for his campaign. Giuliani has been widely praised for his efficient and astute leadership following the 9/11 attacks. Bloomberg had paid attention to what the people of New York City were concerned with: transit problems, and issues concerning housing and education. campaign themes focused on issues of great concern to New Yorkers: improvements in traffic and transit, housing, and education.

Bloomberg won and became mayor and immediately pushed redevelopment efforts, advocated for a citywide smoking ban called the Smoke-Free Air Act of 2002, worked for revitalized tourism after the attacks, and chipped away at the deficit in the NYC budget.

He won again in 2005 and helped establish a ban on trans fat in foods, made a proposal for a 25-year plan for improving the city’s infrastructure, and backed environmental initiatives.

Bloomberg looked like he was going to run for President as an independent in 2008 after making speeches related to policy all around the country. He withdrew from the Republican Party.

Something changed his mind, and he sought a third term as mayor if the city would amend the term-limit law.

They did, and Bloomberg won again as mayor of NYC in November of 2009.

His third and final term as mayor did not go as smoothly as the first two. Bloomberg launched a public health campaign, extending cigarette bans and working to outlaw the peddling super-sized soft drinks laden with high sugar content. His anti-sugar proposal bumped into a wall of controversy and was thrown out by the courts.

“Stop-and-frisk,” although it proved effective, became “Stop-and-Get rid of Bloomberg” which was voiced by minorities who felt they were being racially profiled.

After his third mayorship, Bloomberg went back to Bloomberg LP and put significant effort into environmental issues including co-authoring a book with Carl Pope, a former chief of the Sierra Club.

The American Cities Climate Challenge followed which launched as a $70M endeavor in 2018 to help 20 cities combat the ravages of climate change. Bloomberg had criticized Trump over pulling out of the Paris Agreement the year before. With Trump in the White House, Bloomberg registered as a Democrat and entered the presidential race in March of 2019. As of March 2020, he had spent $500M on his primary campaign, the most in history, but has fallen flat during debates.

Scott Campbell

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