Bloomberg LP has made another big raid on old media again, poaching Justin Smith from the Atlantic Media Co. to be global media CEO. Smith is the Atlantic Media president who is credited with reversing 154-year-old Atlantic magazine’s losses by advancing an aggressive, digital-first strategy. He was rewarded with a promotion to president, a role he used to push the company into new areas of revenue.
His digital acumen and experience in leveraging specialized news and information across multiple platforms and revenue sources will come in handy at Bloomberg, which been trying to diversify in its own right. The financial data powerhouse has sought to spread its costs and influence across other platforms and reduce its reliance on market data subscription revenue. In that vein, it’s bought Businessweek (which, as it happens, previously courted Smith to be its global publisher), expanded its TV footprint and moved into government and legal information services.
Atlantic Media owner and chairman David Bradley may have lost a heavy hitter but wins points for graciousness. In the memo he sent to employees, Bradley praised Smith for helping the company double its revenue, return the Atlantic to profitability and spearhead the creation of new, original online properties including the Atlantic Wire and Quartz. “In my frame, Atlantic Media was earning its doctoral degree in modern media from one of modern media's master practitioners,” Bradley wrote.
Bradley’s memo was also noteworthy for its candor. “More personally, watching Justin taught me truths about media I'd failed to learn in my first decade in the sector: the centrality of brand; the importance of brand excitement; the very particular importance of New York and New York talent to creating excitement. Justin exhorted me to 'go for my inner Don Draper;' as I didn't have the least idea what Justin was talking about, this never really caught on.”
Bradley said nice things about Bloomberg, too: "Here, I need to redouble my effort. I just can't seem to find it in me to dislike the Bloomberg enterprise. I've always trusted and liked Justin's new boss, Dan Doctoroff. Even now, I'm affecting a furious countenance. It just needs work.”
Bradley said Smith's position won't be filled, at least for now. Andrew Lack, whom he succeeds at Bloomberg, will become chairman.