Finance

The life of Michael Bloomberg: How an unemployed 39-year-old banker became a billionaire, 3-time mayor of New York, and presidential hopeful

  • Michael Bloomberg, a 77-year-old billionaire philanthropist, is running to be the next Democratic presidential candidate.
  • He spent 15 years working in finance, before getting fired when he was 39. With the severance check, he co-started his own IT firm, which he called Bloomberg LP.
  • It was a success, and he expanded it to cover the media. Fifteen years later he was a billionaire. But that wasn’t enough, so he entered politics.
  • In 2002, he was elected mayor of New York City, and kept the post for 12 years.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Michael Bloomberg is not your typical billionaire.

He appeared at his first Democratic debate after months of intense campaigning on Wednesday night. It did not go well. In the months leading up to it, he had spent more than $330 million on advertising why he should be the next president. It’s a lot of money, but only a fraction of his $64 billion fortune.

Bloomberg wasn’t born into money. He was raised modestly in suburban Boston, before he rose through the ranks of New York’s financial world, only to get fired at the age of 39.

That same year, using his IT expertise and a healthy chunk of his severance pay, he started Bloomberg LP, which provided data to financial traders. The service was a success, and 15 years later, along with starting his own media company, he became a billionaire.

But that wasn’t enough for Bloomberg. He entered politics and served as New York City mayor for over a decade, earning only $1 a year. During his tenure he identified as a Republican and an independent.

As Chris Smith wrote for New York Magazine, “Instead of using his money to withdraw from the messiness of the everyday world, Bloomberg has thrust himself ever more into it.” And while Bloomberg is a liberal, his “real religion has always been pragmatism.”

He has pledged half of his fortune to charity after his death. Bloomberg Philanthropies says he’s already donated more than $6 billion to various causes over the years.

Here’s a look back at Bloomberg’s life to date, in photos.

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