Michael Bloomberg Will Donate His Eponymous Company to a Philanthropic Trust

After the transfer, revenue generated by the company will finance Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Older white man with grey hair dressed in suit and tie.
Michael Bloomberg at Brooklyn’s Christian Cultural Center in 2019. Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Michael Bloomberg, billionaire founder of media, finance and data company Bloomberg, plans to leave his business empire to charity.

The move follows the recent announcement that proceeds from apparel company Patagonia, founded by Yvon Chouinard, will be given to charitable causes, marking a rising trend in corporate executives pledging their fortunes to philanthropy instead of passing them to heirs.

Bloomberg is set to eventually transfer ownership of his company to a trust, overseen by friends and family, that will subsequently finance his foundation Bloomberg Philanthropies.

“He has committed to giving the company away to Bloomberg Philanthropies when he dies, if not sooner,” said company spokesman Ty Trippet in a statement to the Financial Times.

Bloomberg’s company, which recorded $12.2 billion of revenue in 2022, makes the majority of its profits from the Bloomberg Terminal, a data and analytics system used by financial institutions, while its media sector brings in about $500 million annually, according to the Financial Times.

Bloomberg, 81, co-founded his eponymous company in 1981 after working at Salomon Brothers for 15 years. He currently has a net worth of $94.5 billion, according to Forbes, and was the mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013.

A prominent philanthropist, Bloomberg topped the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Top 50 ranking of donors in 2019 with $3.3 billion in donations. He gave $1.8 billion to his alma mater John Hopkins University in 2018 and has contributed more than $3 billion in total to the school.

Bloomberg also signed the Giving Pledge in 2010, pledging the majority of his wealth to philanthropy, and has made $14.4 billion worth of donations over his lifetime. Bloomberg Philanthropies, meanwhile, reported $1.7 billion in contributions in 2022.

How Bloomberg and Patagonia’s donations differ

Bloomberg’s plan to donate his company follows a similar decision made by Patagonia founder Chouinard, who in August transferred the majority of his company to Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit which donates $100 million annually to combat climate change.

And in 2021, Barre Seid, former chief executive of electronics manufacturer Tripp Lite, donated 100 percent of his company’s shares to Marble Freedom Trust, a non-profit controlled by conservative legal activist Leonard Leo.

Bloomberg’s donation, however, is significantly different from those of Chouinard and Seid, according to Leslie Lenkowsky, a professor of philanthropic studies at Indiana University.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is a private foundation with 501(c)(3) status, said Lenkowsky, “whereas what Patagonia did was donate most of the money from the company to what is called a public welfare foundation.”

The Holdfast Collective and Marble Freedom Trust are both classified as 501(c)(4), meaning they are social welfare organizations and thus exempt from limitations on political funding and endorsements given to a 501(c)(3), he said.

Bloomberg’s donation is still likely to raise some skepticism due to its size, according to Patricia Illingworth, a philosophy professor at Northeastern University specializing in philanthropy.

“That’s going to give him a good say over the social agenda,” she said. “Many people think that kind of philanthropy undermines democracy.”

However, the fact that corporations are beginning to donate more to charity is still a positive trajectory, said Illingworth, who recently authored Giving Now, a book focused on the social backlash of philanthropy. “This is a reason to be optimistic.”

Both Patagonia and Bloomberg also established an interest in charity and ethical standards before their founders announced their respective donations, she said, citing Bloomberg’s philanthropy and signing of the Giving Pledge and Patagonia’s status as a B Corporation, granted to companies who meet social and environmental performance statuses.

“They both have been pretty consistent in this respect,” said Illingworth. “There’s been a trend towards having businesses be more ethical.”


Michael Bloomberg Will Donate His Eponymous Company to a Philanthropic Trust