Justin Smith on his new mission at Bloomberg
Justin Smith's "mission" as C.E.O. of the Bloomberg Media Group will be to "marry the incredible assets" the company's journalists have built over the past several decades with "emerging strategies for winning in the new global media landscape," Smith said during a private event last night.
"Bloomberg, in my estimation, is arguably one of the best-positioned media companies on the globe, and the opportunities are virtually limitless," he told the dozens of his colleagues who were gathered for a "media mixer," as the event was described internally. (A source provided an audio recording of the event to Capital.)
"The scale you have built is astounding, and what's even more impressive is the quality standard you've built at scale," said Smith. "Our brand is stellar, the world class journalism is phenomenal, the entrepreneurial culture, the global reach—all of these things give Bloomberg an incredible, incredible market position in the media business today."
Smith, the former Atlantic Media chief whose job as Bloomberg Media's new boss officially began today, was speaking on the 28th floor of Bloomberg L.P.'s futuristic Lexington Avenue headquarters to a room full of executives and journalists from the financial news and data behemoth owned by the outgoing mayor of New York.
Servers circulated the room with hors d'oeuvres including pigs in blankets and mini quiches, which were washed down with beer, wine and white sangria. Bigwigs in attendance included Bloomberg L.P. president and C.E.O. Dan Doctoroff, chief content officer Norm Pearlstine, Bloomberg News editor-in-chief Matt Winkler, Bloomberg Businesssweek editor-in-chief Josh Tyrangiel, Bloomberg View publisher Tim O'Brien and newly appointed Bloomberg Media Group chairman Andy Lack.
"The media group is in pretty good shape ... but it's about to go like a rocketship to the next level ... under the leadership of Justin Smith," said Lack. "We're about to have a ton more fun."
Smith, who was named chief executive of Bloomberg Media earlier this summer, has earned something of a rock-star reputation for transforming The Atlantic from an august monthly magazine into a digital powerhouse that now claims profitability year after year. He will be expected to bring similar innovation to the consumer-facing side of Bloomberg. The company's core business is enterprise sales built on subscriptions to Bloomberg terminals that transmit financial data and news, but that business has missed sales targets in the past year. And the company was mired in scandal over Bloomberg reporters' apparent misuse of the astronomically priced data machines to keep track of story subjects.
But more emphasis has been placed recently on Bloomberg's consumer products. In addition to its core newswire, Bloomberg Media also includes a newsweekly, Bloomberg Businessweek; an online opinion offering, Bloomberg View; and a cable news network, Bloomberg TV.
At last night's soiree, Pearlstine gave Smith a resounding vote of confidence.
"I think it's great to have as the new C.E.O. for media someone who has focused so heavily on that digital future," said Pearlstine. "I also think Justin comes with a true appreciation of the type of journalism that Matt [Winkler] has really taught all of us at Bloomberg News, and an appreciation for the ways in which, across all our platforms, the content really relates to each other in a way that I think is to all our benefit."
"It's gonna be an amazing adventure," said Smith.