How Bloomberg Became Wealthy Enough to Self-Fund a (Short-Lived) Presidential Campaign

Chloe Foussianes
Photo credit: Drew Angerer - Getty Images

From Town & Country

Michael Bloomberg is a very rich man. As of publishing, the Forbes real-time net worth tracker had him ringing in at $58.4 billion, making him the 9th wealthiest person in the world.

The former New York City mayor has built up quite the empire—and used the wealth he'd amassed to mount an atypical presidential run, until he dropped out of the race in early March, endorsing Joe Biden.

Here's how he got the millions required to self-fund a national campaign.

The businessman founded Bloomberg LP, a media and financial data services company, in 1981.

After 15 years at Wall Street firm Salomon Brothers, he was let go with a $10 million severance package. He used those funds to found Bloomberg, sensing that the financial sector needed better information and analysis—and that traders would happily pay top dollar for that service.

Today, retains an 88% stake Bloomberg LP, which grown to a full-on media business as well as a suite of products serving the financial industry.

Prior to the end of Bloomberg's presidential campaign, his adviser Tim O’Brien explained to the AP that Bloomberg would sell the company in the event that he is elected president—although not to a foreign buyer or a private equity company. Proceeds would go to Bloomberg Philanthropies (notably, no plan has been announced for this organization, should Bloomberg win the election).

Recently, Bloomberg LP has been in the news for another reason: allegations of sexual harassment against Bloomberg.

He rose to national prominence during his three terms as New York City's mayor.

During his administration, Bloomberg took the same data-driven approach that had benefited him the private sector and applied it to the city government. He advocated for improved infrastructure, environmentally-friendly policies, and public health-minded reforms like bans on smoking and trans fats.

Of course, his tenure wasn't without controversy. Until recently, Bloomberg continued to support the "Stop and Frisk" tactic implemented during his terms, although critics believe it lead to over-policing of minority communities. His close ties to Wall Street were also distasteful to those on the left.

He was elected mayor as a Republican and an Independent, but Bloomberg is in the 2020 race as Democrat. He spent at least $268 million on his three mayoral runs, giving him a huge monetary advantage.

In recent years, he's continued to make headlines for his philanthropy.

Bloomberg broke records this past fall when he donated $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins's financial aid programs—the largest single contribution ever made to an educational institution.

He's also made significant contributions in the hopes of fighting climate change, an issue that he advocated for in Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, a 2017 book he co-wrote with Carl Pope.

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