Though Bloomberg News' decision to hire former Time Inc. Editor-in-Chief Norman Pearlstine is probably bad news for the news wire's tyrant editor, Matthew Winkler, it seems likely to open up opportunities for recently-installed Bloomberg executive Dan Doctoroff, a former Lehman Brothers dealmaker. The Times sees hints Bloomberg is getting ready to make some acquisitions:
Mr. Doctoroff, denying that any deal was in the works, told the gathering, "We do have greater aspirations, and in what form those aspirations will be fulfilled, we're going to all have to sit and figure that out," according to another employee who also agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because the meeting was meant to be confidential.
Yet Mr. Winkler and Mr. Pearlstine seemed to distance themselves from the long-held company mantra that they are "builders not buyers" - meaning the company would seek growth organically rather than through acquisitions. Mr. Pearlstine noted Mr. Doctoroff's résumé - he worked at Lehman Brothers and Oak Hill Capital, a private equity firm - and suggested that his expertise in deal making might be put to use.
Michael Bloomberg and Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. have both thrown cold water on speculation that Bloomberg might acquire the New York Times Company, and it's hard to make a strong business case that Bloomberg LP needs exposure to the struggling print news sector (reports of Michael Bloomberg's interest in the Times couched the potential deal as something of a charitable civic gesture).
So what else might Bloomberg LP be interested in buying? Its news operations may soon be unshackled from its slowing bread-and-butter terminal business, according to the Times, which means Bloomberg's various other news outlets could soon be free to break news without worrying whether it has first reached terminal subscribers. Any media acquisitions would likely be designed to accelerate advertising growth (already under way) and offset any further slowdown in the terminal business. With an eye toward those concerns, might Bloomberg might be interested in...
- Dow Jones Newswires? - Rupert Murdoch bought Dow Jones for the Wall Street Journal and its hard to imagine he'd have a tough time parting with the newswire operation, which faces big challenges in the wake of the Reuters-Thompson merger. On the other hand, it's hard to see how such a deal would appeal to Bloomberg.
- TheStreet.com? - The financial news site started by Jim Cramer could be bought for a tiny fraction of Michael Bloomberg's fortune and would bring two things that have been missing, by design, from Bloomberg News: A website that breaks news and quickly and brings attention to it efficiently, and opinionated analysis. As a bonus, the site is far ahead of Bloomberg.com in bringing video to the Web.
- CNET? - Another affordable acquisition that would bring Web smarts and video savvy, but CNET may be too consumer- and tech-focused for Bloomberg.
- GigaOM or TechCrunch? - Neither would add much ad revenue, and both are heavily tied to their founding bloggers. But either could at as a sort of flagship for Bloomberg's growth on the Web