Michael Bloomberg Parking Lot Attendant-> The ‘King of Capital’ was born in a working-class suburb of Boston in 1942, son – no great surprise – of a bookkeeper. His first job was working as a parking lot attendant while an engineering student at Johns Hopkins University, but he launched his future course by winning a place at Harvard Business School in 1966. From there, he joined Salomon Brothers as a clerk, where, he once recalled: ‘I used to get in at 7am; I was the only one in the trading room other than Billy Salomon.’
He was made head of the equities desk in 1974, staking out a role as puritan critic of perks and bonuses. When those for whom this was too much took over the firm in a reshuffle, he was offered – and took – a severance package of $20 million in 1981 (roughly the amount he plans to spend on his election campaign, without taking a single donation).
A year later, Bloomberg won sweet revenge. He had invested his stash in founding his own company, developing an information system that could pump crucial and timely data to the managers of money.
He approached the giant Merrill Lynch with his idea for terminals carrying such material – already called ‘Bloombergs’ – which in turn put up $30m for a 30 per cent stake in his venture, Bloomberg Financial Markets.
Over the decade that followed, Bloomberg challenged the brand names that had dominated the market information business, Reuter and Dow Jones, to the point that his own name has now become a New York hallmark: above Holland Tunnel, on the walls of the World Trade Centre and Penn Station – and, of course, on a computer terminal inside La Guardia airport.
By 1990, Bloomberg had made suffi cient inroads as to establish the Bloomberg News Service, feeding its information to such outlets as the New York Times and Washington Post , with the financial news spiced up by baseball results, movie reviews and job adver tisements. On street corners in Manhattan, girls in mini-skirts hand out transistor sets: ‘Hi! Would you like a free radio?’
But there’s a trick: it only tunes to one station, WBBR, the Bloomberg Business Report. Should he become Mayor, he may not quite have achieved the ambitions and control of the new Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, but the general idea isn’t far off.