Just imagine what a Michael Bloomberg presidency could mean to a people tired of politics, yearning for leadership and hopeful for a better tomorrow.
And by that I mean the employees of Bloomberg Media, not the United States of America.
While New York City’s former mayor had jaws dropping Saturday when he floated the trial balloon of a presidential run and what it could mean not just for the 2016 race, but the future direction of the country, a slightly lesser important question also emerged: What will happen to Bloomberg’s media company without him at the helm?
It’s hard to imagine his departure could create more turbulence than Bloomberg Media experienced in 2015, which was marked by key executive departures amid well publicized clashes between the founder and some of his top hires.
While Bloomberg Media has always strove to keep its inner workings quietly tamped down inside its notoriously secretive, tightly controlled corporate culture, tensions spilled out into the open via multiple damaging press accounts depicting a company at war with itself.
The predominant narrative that has emerged is that since Bloomberg left the mayor’s mansion and returned to running the company, he has stirred up resentment for curbing risky ambitions to turn his empire into a multimedia dynamo in order to return focus to the safer, more profitable route of the terminal business.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that some of Bloomberg Media’s brightest stars defected last year, including chief content officer Josh Tyrangiel, who joined Vice Media, and digital chief Josh Topolsky, who is currently seeking financing for another startup. There’s even been rumors that CEO Justin Smith could be the next to go.
Counterintuitive as it might sound, the prospect of a Bloomberg without its namesake holding the reins might actually help the perception of the company. As for the reality, it’s as hard to believe Bloomberg would simply leave his $35 billion company without any maintaining any measure of his influence in his absence as it is that Donald Trump would do same.
If Bloomberg’s presidential run does turn out to be more than a Biden-esque flirtation, it will be interesting to see if the troubles his company has endured over the past year actually become something his opponents could use against him. After all, here’s a guy who by all indications is going to run on his record of bipartisanship in New York as a means of selling the public on the idea he can work with an intractable Congress, and yet he can’t seem to get people at his own company to row in the same direction.
As for his own employees, maybe they will look to Bloomberg’s exit as a means for turning his ship around.