The Financial Times buried the lead in its 4,000-word opus about Bloomberg.
The article waited until the fifth paragraph to drop the news that Mike Bloomberg plans to put his company into a trust to fund Bloomberg Philanthropies in perpetuity.
It was the first time the company has said that publicly.
The news ends more than two decades of intense and utterly time-sucking speculation among employees, bankers and customers about the future of the media empire.
I worked at Bloomberg for three decades (I left in 2022) and I cannot tell you how many hours were consumed by the parlor game of guessing when Mike would sell.
The other chestnut in the article involved the question of succession.
Mike is 81, after all. The piece notes: “According to most insiders, Bloomberg’s likely successor as CEO is Jean-Paul Zammitt.”
I found that amusing. Anyone who is really an “insider” knows that when it comes to major decisions at Bloomberg there are no “insiders.” There is only Mike.
Bloomberg spokesman Ty Trippet said as much when he commented: “While he has succession plans for himself, he has not discussed them with anyone.”
It’s a pretty wild comment since typical succession plans involve socializing and publicly grooming a new person.
I believe Ty when he says Mike hasn’t told anyone.
FT reporter Robin Wigglesworth deserves credit for the best reported, most nuanced and entertaining piece written about Bloomberg in years.
It explains how Bloomberg has diversified from the terminal business. Revenue from enterprise data, media and legal now account for one third of the $12 billion in sales.
It puts to rest the endless parade of strawman competitors by dismissively saying: “No one talks of “Bloomberg killers” any more, unless it is sardonically.”
It tackles a common misconception that equates Bloomberg with Bloomberg News. “Bloomberg is a media company. That is a little like describing Disney as a theme-park operator or Google as an email provider.”
The article also captures idiosyncratic aspects, such as all the desks being the same size, every office having a fish tank and Mike’s management tactic to let executives argue until a winner emerges that is known internally as putting “cats in a bag.”
The piece tries to gin up tension by saying Zammitt may face competition for the top job from another internal candidate, Vlad Kliatchko, who runs engineering, product and data.
The article claims Zammitt has an edge, citing “people with knowledge of the company’s management dynamics.” It adds Kliatchko is gaining ground as a “viable contender.”
The article goes on to say Mike may pick neither, naming an outsider instead.
People always want a horse race, some kind of narrative with actors and drama.
They want to believe there are “insiders” who know the gossip and people “familiar with knowledge of the company’s management dynamics.”
It’s harder to accept that there is one guy who “while he has succession plans for himself, he has not discussed them with anyone.”