Fortune Reports on Bloomberg’s ‘Identity Crisis’

Details internal troubles rocking news organization

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Just two weeks after the New York Times detailed some “troubling developments” at Bloomberg L.P.—including a softening of terminal sales and a recent controversy over a Bloomberg News article being pulled for fear of endangering the company’s ties in China—Fortune has published its own examination of the company (teaser post here; editor-at-large Peter Elkind's full version is available only to subscribers), detailing the many problems in its news divisions. Some of the highlights:

—Bloomberg, despite its “staggering success,” is undergoing a “traumatic identity crisis.” While CEO Dan Doctoroff has sought to diversify the company’s businesses outside of terminals since joining the company in 2008, news head Matt Winkler and terminal chief Tom Secunda remain focused on maintaining the status quo, with the effect that Bloomberg has spent more than $2 billion to diversify but has little to show for it.

—New York mayor Mike Bloomberg's role at the company is deeper than it's understood to be, with the company founder personally improving new strategies.

—Winkler admitted he knew "for years" about Bloomberg journalists using the company's terminals to snoop on sources.

—Winkler is painted as a tyrant, prone to outbursts and in need of constant placating. He clashed with anyone who doesn’t precisely follow the “Bloomberg Way,” his 376-page guidebook dictating how articles should be written, even calling reporters in the middle of the night to ask about competitors' scoops and ill-placed adjectives.

—The diversification effort is floundering. The TV division is losing more than $100 million a year; Bloomberg Businessweek, about $30 million. Bloomberg Law has so far cost the company about $1 billion, and Bloomberg Government has sustained cumulative losses of “less than $200 million,” according to Doctoroff. All told, these and the rest of the news properties reportedly produce less than 5 percent of company revenues.

—As for the good news, the company’s business of providing technology services to companies is growing quickly, with projected 2013 revenues of nearly $1 billion. But as Michael Bloomberg prepares to return to his company in 2014, there is more uncertainty than ever, with employees whispering of everything from possible layoffs in the TV and news divisions to the acquisition of the New York Times Co.


@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.
Publish date: December 5, 2013 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT