The NY Post reported yesterday that Bloomberg LP is folding Bloomberg Law into its Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs unit and is expected to lay off an undisclosed number of journalists as part of “rebranding.”
BBNA was built around Bloomberg’s acquisition of the Bureau of National Affairs in 2011 for $990 million, the largest purchase in its history.
The company is insisting that many of the 250 journalists at BloombergLaw will be offered jobs at Arlington, Va.based BBNA, a provider of legal and regulatory news and information.
Shutting Bloomberg Law represents a rare retreat for the company, founded by Mayor Mike Bloomberg,which has been trying to diversify its base beyond its core financial news and data business for five years.
BloombergLaw was seen asaway to get away fromthe desktop terminal business and make some inroads into the legal research field dominated by Thomson Reuters’ Westlawand Reed Elsevier’s Lexis/ Nexis.
But even Lexis/Nexis has stumbled recently, announcing that its oncedominant legal publishing subsidiary, MartindaleHubbell, and lawyers.com were merging with Internet Brands. The future of Bloomberg — both the man and the company — is the subject of growing speculation.
As Mayor Bloomberg’s term draws toaclose,many wonder what his next move will be, with guesses ranging from advocating political causes to taking a top government position to pursuing a buyout of the NewYorkTimes.
Bloomberg has said in the past he is not going to buy the Times, but that has not shut down the rumor mill.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ recent move to buy the Washington Post for $250million has ramped up chatter that Bloomberg could follow the same path and use his personal fortune to buy the Times. The controlling Sulzberger clan has insisted that the paper is not for sale. Bloomberg has also said he has no intention of returning to daytoday management of the company.
Separately yesterday, Bezos gave his first major postacquisition interview since he agreed to buy the Washington Post from the controlling Graham family.
“It’s important for the Post not just to survive but to grow,” he said in the interviewwith the WashingtonPost’s Paul Farhi.
“The Post is still great. The piece that’smissing is that it’s still a challenged business. No business can continue to shrink. That can onlygo on for so long before irrelevancy sets in.”
The Amazon boss has been a master of figuring out what consumers want, in the process building a personal fortune that is estimated at more than $24billion—roughly on apar with Bloomberg’s net worth.
Still, Bezos admitted he has no magical solution to the newspaper industry’s circulation and advertising woes.
“In my experience, the way invention, innovation and change happen is [through] team effort. There’s no lone genius who figures it all out and sends downthe magic formula.
You study, you debate, you brainstorm and the answers start to emerge.
“It takes time. Nothing happens quickly in this mode. You develop theories and hypotheses, but you don’t know if readers will respond.
You do as many experiments as rapidly as possible. Quickly inmymind would be years.”
He said the formula of asking readers to pay for news that they can get freeelsewhere is flawed.On the other hand, he said it is important to have readers at the centerpiece.
“I’m skeptical of any mission that has advertisers as its centerpiece.
Whatever the mission is, it has news at its heart,”he said.
Forbes Media is using ties developed through journalism to enter the realestate development business.
The company said it has a licensing agreement with G2 Investment Group through its newly formed Forbes Financial Services.
Mike Federle, the chief operating officer of Forbes Media, said that the company is not putting any capital into the newventure.
“We’re currently looking at about 12 potential deals,” he said “I’d be happy if in the next year we announced twomore.”
The first deal announced earlier this week waswith Century Properties Group Inc.,a Philippine real estate firm that said it will build the first Forbes Media Tower in Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines.
Century said it would start taking orders for commercial office space in the tower in early 2014 although the building was not expected to be completed for occupancy for several more years.
Jose E.B. Antonio, president and CEO of Century Properties, will be putting up the capital along with Forbes partner G2. Bono, the U2 frontman whose Elevation Partners owns a minority stake inForbesMedia, is not putting any more money into the deal either.
“We’re leveraging the brand to build out a new business,” said Federle.