Bloomberg LP is a last-minute addition to the bidding for BusinessWeek, but it’s the “frontrunner” according to Keith Kelly at the New York Post.
Until now, Bruce Wasserstein, owner of New York Magazine and The Deal, was believed to be at the front of the line for BusinessWeek.
Jon Fine says Bloomberg had previously been interested but passed. He doesn’t know what drew them back in so late in the game. The bid is due on Tuesday.
We assume BusinessWeek’s reporters are dancing in their cubicles at this news. Morale at the company is reported to be low, as the staffers fret over the company’s future. If this goes through they get to join one of the most successful media businesses going.
They might not want to get too excited: Bloomberg has a big staff of its own. But there’s a lot of talent at BusinessWeek, and unlike the rest of the journalism world, Bloomberg’s actually growing. So maybe there will be jobs for everyone!
Why would the media supertanker like Bloomberg take on a sinking ship like BusinessWeek?
BusinessWeek is still a strong brand. Bloomberg has its own magazine, Markets, which produces great reporting, but doesn’t get nearly the same kind of recognition as BusinessWeek. For all of Bloomberg’s austere and ascetic style, the company hungers for awards and recognition. Plugging its sharp reporting into BusinessWeek’s subscriber base would expand its reach.
There’s also reason to believe that a weekly version of Bloomberg could puncture the Economist’s growing deathgrip on weekly magazines. Even if did shake off the Economist, it’s not guaranteed to make money, but that might not matter.
Bloomberg isn’t afraid of losing money to build its brand. Its television and radio operations are reported to lose money. The magazine probably loses money. The website can’t be making much money either. However, they all provide added reach for the company, which is awash in cash from its terminal business.
If all that weren’t enough, let’s not forget how cheap BusinessWeek is. The magazine could be bought for just a dollar.
UPDATE: BusinessWeek tech reporter Stephen Baker advises the staff not to get too happy. Writing on his personal blog, he says there’s three types of buyers interested in BusinessWeek, and Bloomberg is the worst of the bunch:
The third and most painful possibility would be a media company with legacy businesses that overlap with BW’s. This could be the case with Bloomberg. Conceivably, he could buy the brand and the subscribers, hold onto a handful of staffers and get his own employees to do the rest of the work. But who knows? Politics might help. Axing loads of Midtown journalism jobs would be an embarrassment for the New York mayor, one he might choose to avoid.