Love him or hate him, Michael Bloomberg's list of accomplishments is impressive by almost any measure. From incredible business success to a significant political career, Bloomberg has definitely made his mark on the world -- and has amassed a huge fortune along the way.
How it all began
Bloomberg was born in Boston on February 14, 1942 and raised in a middle class family in the nearby suburb of Medford, Massachusetts. As a child, he participated in the Boy Scouts of America, becoming one of the nation's youngest Eagle Scouts in 1958. He would later earn an engineering degree at Johns Hopkins University -- while working as a parking lot attendant to help pay his tuition -- followed by an MBA at Harvard Business School.
After graduation from Harvard, Bloomberg was hired by the Wall Street firm Salomon Brothers in 1966. He quickly rose through the ranks and would eventually oversee equity trading and sales, and later head up the firm's information systems. However, when Salomon was acquired in 1981, he was let go from the firm.
Rather than ride off into the sunset, Bloomberg used his multi-million dollar severance package to launch Innovative Market Systems, a start up focused on delivering real-time data on financial securities. From its humble beginnings in a one-room office, IMS would become Bloomberg L.P., a global powerhouse with more than 15,000 employees and offices in 73 countries around the world. Its operations now span across television, radio, and publishing, in addition to its core -- and highly profitable -- Bloomberg Terminal business.
The Bloomberg Terminal (officially, the Bloomberg Professional Service) has become ubiquitous on Wall Street trading floors and other financial institutions, and its data feeds and messaging service are often viewed by these firms as requirements for doing business. That's given Bloomberg L.P. tremendous pricing power, with customers paying about $20,000 annually for the service. This highly profitable segment is largely responsibly for Bloomberg L.P.'s success, with the company reported to be worth more than $27 billion.
The Big Apple
With his billionaire status cemented, Bloomberg was able to use a reported $260 million of his own money to finance his campaigns to be elected mayor of New York City. He took office in 2002 in the aftermath the Sep. 11 terrorist attacks, and would help rebuild the city in the years to follow.
His tenure spanned three terms, from 2002 to 2013, during which Bloomberg is credited with spurring job growth, reducing crime, and implementing initiatives to combat climate change and improve public health. Highlights of his time in office include a 32% reduction in crime, a 19% reduction in the city's carbon footprint, and a 36-month increase in life expectancy.
During his time as mayor, Bloomberg chose to forgo the position's $2.7 million in salary over his three terms, instead opting to earn just $1 per year. But his generosity expands far beyond the City of New York.
Bloomberg's first charitable donation was a $5 check to his college's alumni association, which he gave upon his graduation. His philosophy is -- as it was then -- to give what you can, and as Bloomberg's means have increased dramatically, so has his giving. To date, Michael Bloomberg has donated more than $3.3 billion to a wide variety of causes and organizations. That figure should continue to increase in the years ahead, as Bloomberg has pledged to give away most of his fortune before he dies.
So what is Bloomberg's net worth?
Even after all that charitable giving, Bloomberg is still a billionaire many times over. With a fortune estimated to be worth more than $35 billion, Michael Bloomberg is one of the top 20 richest people in the world.