How did Bloomberg become the richest person ever to run for the US presidency? As a multibillionaire and one of the wealthiest men in America, it’s only normal to wonder how it all started.
Bloomberg’s fortune is mostly self-made. He went to Johns Hopkins University and earned an MBA from Harvard. He worked his way up on Wall Street in the ‘70s and used a $10 million severance check from Salomon Brothers to start his own information technology business, Bloomberg LP. It was wildly successful, and he went on to create Bloomberg News and Bloomberg TV.
Continue reading for an in-depth look at the early life and career of Michael Bloomberg, showing how he grew into such a wealthy man and built an empire for his name.
Early Life & Wall Street
Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1942, Bloomberg grew up in a middle-class Jewish family. His mother was a secretary, and his father was a bookkeeper.
Medford, Massachusetts was Bloomberg’s home for the majority of his childhood, and he continued to live there until graduating from college.
In 1960, he completed Medford High School and went to Johns Hopkins University to study an electrical engineering degree. After successfully completing this degree, he continued on to Harvard Business School, where he gained a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
“I was an engineer in school because when I went to study physics, it turned out there was a German requirement, when I went to school, all of the physics was in German. After 3 weeks in German class, I decided wasn’t going to make that, and so I became an engineer where there wasn’t a language requirement,” Bloomberg reflected in an interview.
Not long after, Bloomberg made the decision to take a crack at Wall Street in New York and joined the Salomon Brothers who were a multinational investment company.
His starting salary was around $9,000 per year, and he certainly started from the very bottom in the bank’s vault.
Sharing his experience in the vault, Bloomberg once said:
“We slaved in our underwear, in an un-air-conditioned bank vault, with an occasional six pack of beer to make it more bearable. Every afternoon, we counted out billions of dollars of actual bond and stock certificates to be messengered to banks as collateral for overnight loans. By the 1980s such practices would be as quaint as the horse-drawn carriage.”
It didn’t take long for the determined businessman to work his way up the ladder, wherein 1972 he became a partner of the company. By 1978, he was managing their information technology sector, but in 1981 the firm merged with another one called Phibro.
Bloomberg was let go, but not without a hefty severance check of a cool $10 million.
In the same interview as previously mentioned, Bloomberg pondered over the hard work it took to get through the early years of his career:
“I think there’s an awful lot more commonality than people think. It’s hard work, it’s being willing to stand up for what you believe.”
Watch the full interview below.
Using that $10 million check from the Salomon Brothers, Bloomberg decided to start his own company and create a self-made fortune. It was originally known as Innovative Market Solutions but was later changed to Bloomberg LP.
The company was designed to give information on bond markets. By 1982, Merrill Lynch became their starting customer and purchased 22 terminals with a $30 million investment for a 30% stake of the business.
That’s where things really started booming for Bloomberg, as his company eventually garnered a net worth of $2 billion by the late ‘80s.
He didn’t want to stop there, though, and launched his own media companies. These included Bloomberg TV, Bloomberg Business News, Bloomberg Markets Magazine, and Bloomberg Radio.
Soon enough, the Bloomberg Terminal on Wall Street became a necessary tool for traders.
Now, his business has gone global and doesn’t just monitor the markets of Wall Street.
Jumping in the Political Pond
In 2001, Bloomberg delved into the world of American politics. Following his huge success in the Big Apple, he ran for the mayor of New York City.
While some were skeptical of his potential, he was sworn into office as the 108th mayor of New York City in 2002. This was just after the tragic September 11 terrorist attacks, and he set to work to rebuild and restore the city.
Bloomberg was mayor until 2013 and decided to drop out of his campaign for the 2020 presidency.