How Michael Bloomberg Went From Bond Trader To Billionaire Media Mogul

Michael bloombergAP ImagesMichael Bloomberg performs in a comedy routine during the Inner Circle dinner in New York, Saturday, April 3, 2004.

Michael Bloomberg started his New York City story sweating in his underwear in Salomon Brothers’ vaults.

And in a little over 20 years, he turned a $US10 million severance package from that now defunct bank into a multi-billion dollar company whose service Wall Street can’t live without.

According to Forbes, he’s the 15th richest man in the world with an estimated networth of $US33.2 billion.

The inspiring journey, with plenty of highs and lows, is one of a man who enjoys both success and philanthropy.

After serving twelve years as New York City’s mayor, Bloomberg has returned to the company he founded. Although he wasn’t expected to take on an active leadership role, it was reported today that he would resume leadership of Bloomberg LP.

Editor’s note: Myles Meserve is a former Business Insider intern. This post has been updated.

Bloomberg grew up in a middle class Boston suburb.

Michael Bloomberg was born on Valentines Day, February 14, 1942 near Boston, Massachusetts.

He grew up in a middle class home in Medford, MA.

His father worked seven days a week as an accountant at a local dairy to to provide for his family of four.


He majored in electrical engineering at Johns Hopkins and received his MBA from Harvard.

Bloomberg graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1964 with a degree in electrical engineering.

After graduating from Johns Hopkins, he received his MBA from Harvard Business School.

Two years later in 1966, during the height of the Vietnam war, he applied to the Officer Candidate School of the US Armed Forces, but was rejected for having flat feet.


He went to work at Salomon Brothers in 1966.

In 1966, Bloomberg was hired by Salomon Brothers in New York.

His starting salary at Salomon was $US9,000/year.


He worked his way up and was made a partner at Salomon Brothers in 1972.

After starting at the bottom, Bloomberg worked his way up, and eventually became a bond trader and was made partner by 1972.

He worked 12 hour days, six days per week.

By 1976, Bloomberg was a general partner at Salomon Brothers and held the glamorous position, head of equity trading and sales.


In 1976, he married his first wife, Susan Brown.

Together, they had two children, Emma and Georgina. The couple divorced in 1993.


In 1979, Salomon Brothers CEO John Gutfreund asked Bloomberg to transfer to the computer systems area.

John Gutfreund

In 1979, the CEO of Salomon Brothers, John Gutfreund, and Billy Salomon, asked Bloomberg to leave his powerful position in sales and trading and to head the young and emerging computer systems area.

This was seen as a demotion. But, Bloomberg would later be thankful for the experience.


But, Bloomberg was given a $US10 million dollar package and was asked to leave the firm.

Gutfreund on Bloomberg TV

The next day, Saturday August 1, 1981, the partners met with management.

Bloomberg met with CEO John Gutfreund and Henry Kaufman. He, along with a handful of the other partners, were asked to leave the firm.

For leaving the firm, 39 year old Bloomberg received $US10 million in cash and convertible bonds.


He invested $US4 million of his own money into the development of a computer system that could provide information about the bond markets.

In a 10 foot by 10 foot rented room, Bloomberg put his Johns Hopkins University electrical engineering degree to work.

He invested $US4 million of his $US10 million Salomon Brothers severance package into his start-up.

His company was originally called Innovative Market Solutions, and consisted of four others, who collaborated to create and program a computer terminal that let traders stay informed about the Treasury bond market.


In 1982, Merrill Lynch purchased 22 terminals and invested $US30 million in Bloomberg's company.

In 1982, Bloomberg's first customer, Merrill Lynch ordered and installed 22 of Bloomberg's MarketMaster terminals.

Also, Merrill Lynch gave Bloomberg $US30 million in exchange for a 30% position in his company.

Bloomberg's current offices in New York, feature 22 fish tanks, symbolizing the firm's initial sale of 22 terminals.

Source:, Forbes

Bloomberg's company became wildly successful during the 1980s.

In 1986, the company's name changed from Innovative Market Systems to Bloomberg L.P.

Bloomberg's company also moved to 499 Park Ave in New York.

In 1987, Bloomberg sold its 5,000th terminal and launched its trading systems platform.

In 1989, Bloomberg bought back 1/3 of Merrill Lynch's 30% stake for $US200 million. With that valuation, Bloomberg's company was worth $US2 billion only eight years after its launch.

Source: Bloomberg

Several other forms of media were launched in the early 1990s.

Bloomberg launched Bloomberg Business News, Bloomberg Radio, Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg Markets Magazine during the early 1990s.

Source: Bloomberg,

The Bloomberg Terminal became a necessary tool for traders.

The 100,000th Bloomberg Terminal was installed in 1998. Charging around $US1,500/month per terminal, Bloomberg's privately held company became hugely profitable.

Source: Bloomberg,

His company has offices throughout the world and monitors dozens of markets.

Today, Bloomberg L.P. has over 310,000 subscriptions to its financial news and information service. Bloomberg now employs more than 15,000 people throughout its several offices around the world.

Source:, Bloomberg

He took office in 2002, and helped to rebuild New York after the 9/11 attacks.

The primaries for the mayoral race took place on 9/11/2001, but were postponed after the attacks. He later beat the Republican challenger in the rescheduled primary.

Bloomberg set a new campaign spending record for the mayoral race in New York City, when he spent $US74 million. He eventually won over the traumatized New York City population, and took the mayoral race in late 2001 by a margin of 2%.

Bloomberg stepped down as CEO of his company, and appointed Lex Stanwick as the new CEO.

He was inaugurated mayor in January of 2002, accepting just a salary of just $US1/year.

Source:,, Bloomberg

He finished his final term as Mayor of New York City.

Bloomberg and his girlfriend Diana Taylor.

During his first term as Mayor of New York, he saw his approval ratings fall as low as 24%. But, they rebounded and Bloomberg, with his $US85 million campaign, was re-elected mayor in 2005.

In 2007, during his second term, Bloomberg decided to leave the Republican party and declared himself a political independent.

During the difficult economic times of 2008 and 2009, Bloomberg decided that he needed to run for a third term. He contributed $US90 million to the race and was became only the fourth NYC Mayor to serve a fourth term in the last century.


As Mayor, he only accepted a salary of $US1, but his net-worth is $US33.2 billion making him the 15th wealthiest person in the world.

As of March 2014, Michael Bloomberg was listed by Forbes as the 15th wealthiest person in the world, with a net worth of $US33.2 billion.

Bloomberg is also believed to be the wealthiest New Yorker.

Source:, Forbes

He has given over $US2.4 billion to philanthropy over the years too.

Michael Bloomberg has donated more than $US2.4 billion to philanthropic causes in public health, environment, government innovation, arts and education. In 2011 alone, he donated a total of $US330 million.

His philanthropic gifts have placed him in the top five of the Chronicle of Philanthropy's list of America's top 50 philanthropists.

He has also donated to Princeton University, where there is a dorm named Emma B. Bloomberg Hall, after his daughter who graduated from the university in 2001.


Not to say he doesn't get billionaire perks. Bloomberg has awesome homes all over the world from Vail to London.

Bloomberg's Southampton Estate

Mayor Bloomberg, who could've lived in the New York mayor's mansion, Gracie Mansion, opted instead to live in his own $US17 million Upper East Side townhouse.

He also owns a $US10.5 million estate in Bermuda, a $US10 million Victorian in London, a $20 million Southampton, NY estate and a $US1.5 million condo in Vail. He owns 11 properties in total.


He loves his toys too, especially his helicopters and jets.

Mayor Bloomberg landing his helicopter in New York City.

Michael Bloomberg began training to become a pilot in 1976, at the age of 34.

He has a passion for flying helicopters and rarely gives up the controls to his professional pilot, who primarily takes Bloomberg's $US4.5 million six seat Augusta SPA A109s helicopter to its home in New Jersey after dropping off Bloomberg in NYC. He also keeps his private planes at the Morristown Municipal Airport in New Jersey.

Bloomberg has even personally flown friends and businessmen from New York to Albany aboard his helicopter for meetings at the state capital.

He's currently scheduled to receive an AgustaWestland AW609 Tiltrotor in 2016. This aircraft is similar to the military's V-22 Osprey.


When Bloomberg isn't flying his helicopter somewhere, though, he usually taking the New York subway.

Mayor Bloomberg and his investment banking girlfriend Diana Taylor, are both frequent users of New York's subway system.

Diana Taylor says that she rides the bus to work everyday, and Mayor Bloomberg rides the subway from 59th Street to his office in City Hall.


Now let's take a tour of where he works...

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