Bloomberg Will Return To Running His Media Company In Surprise Move

September 4, 2014

Michael Bloomberg, who stepped down as mayor of New York late last year after a dozen years in office, will once again lead the media company he founded and still owns 88 percent of, the company announced late Wednesday.

“Daniel L. Doctoroff will be stepping aside from his role as President and Chief Executive Officer of the company effective at the end of this year. Bloomberg LP will not name a replacement, but rather will again be led by Mr. Bloomberg with support from the existing leadership team.”

Both Bloomberg and Doctoroff describe the situation as one in which Bloomberg became re-engaged in day-to-day management of the company, to the point that Doctoroff thought he should hand over control. The New York Times, which broke the story, details the surprising transition:

“When he left politics, Mr. Bloomberg was expected to devote most of his time to giving away his $32.8 billion fortune. Those philanthropic efforts — on issues like gun control, immigration and public health — were supposed to take up much of his time and he would ‘most likely spend a few hours a day working from his new desk on the fifth floor,’ at Bloomberg’s offices, according to a memo Mr. Doctoroff sent employees in January.

“But in recent months, Mr. Bloomberg — who still owns 88 percent of the company — has become an increasing presence at Bloomberg’s Lexington Avenue headquarters. Those ‘few hours soon turned into six and seven hours a day with Mr. Bloomberg taking a hands-on role in meetings and strategy decisions.”

In the statement, Bloomberg praised Doctoroff’s more than six years with the company.

“Under Dan’s leadership, our position in every market in which we compete is the strongest it has ever been. Financially, we have set records every year during his tenure. Our management team is the most talented and deepest in our history. We have professionalized every unit of the company. We have thoughtfully diversified, in part by opening ourselves up to new business models, technologies and ideas, processes, people and acquisitions. And yet, we have managed to retain the culture that lies at the heart of our success.”

Both Bloomberg and Doctoroff, a former deputy mayor under Bloomberg before being tasked with running the company, told the Times that there was no animosity between them regarding the shift:

“Whatever fissures existed below the surface between the two men, both insisted that there was no fight over leadership. ‘The press always wants to write about a battle,’ Mr. Bloomberg said. ‘There was not a battle.’

“With a wry smile and a laugh, Mr. Doctoroff said: ‘Mike is kind of like God at the company. He created the universe. He issued the Ten Commandments and then he disappeared. And then he came back. You have to understand that when God comes back, things are going to be different. When God reappeared, people defer.’

After a series of tiffs, mostly over not consulting each other on small decisions and conversations, Mr. Bloomberg went to Mr. Doctoroff and said, ‘The only answer is for me not to be here.’ Mr. Doctoroff said he replied, ‘Mike, that’s not the answer that I want or that you want. This is your company. You ought to get out of it what you want.’ ”

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