The Bloomberg 2020 presidential campaign is recent history but the former candidate’s offer to sell his publicly traded, supremely successful company, Bloomberg L.P., through a blind trust can still positively shake, rattle and roll working class and corporate America if uplifted by more progressive conversion vision and practice. As wayshower, California’s AB-5 worker protection bill illuminates one path forward to ensuring a more equalizing “future of work” through an emerging legislative formula, the Cooperative Economy Act (CEA), that allows unions and co-ops to merge workplace democracy and a collective bargaining agreement so that stakeholder-workers can earn a fair percentage of the “profits created by their labor”.
On a similar transformational level, Mr. Bloomberg’s decision to sell Bloomberg L.P. to its workers (employees) through a hybrid syndicated structure featuring a one-class stock, democratic ESOP evolving into proven shared ownership business models would serve as a catalytic nationwide ownership model for the emerging, “post shareholder primacy”, global Stakeholder Economy. Broadened and deepened, hybrid shared ownership models underpinning and enabling stakeholder primacy as opposed to exterritorial shareholder primacy are now increasingly accepted as good business science (https://hbr.org/2018/08/why-the-u-s-needs-more-worker-owned-companies).
The basic democratic principle valued in nation-states and shared-ownership models is one-person-one-vote. An equity share is the right to vote and provides the basis for a new power-paradigm-changing culture that builds community-wealth, civic-solidarity and self-reliance. Metrics prove that broad-based, local worker ownership is more stable, inclusive, equitable, democratic, and competitive. It outperforms with fewer job losses, especially during downturns. Mr. Bloomberg could seed workforce resiliency just as he is seeding climate resiliency across America.
Such a transaction would match Mr. Bloomberg’s environmental, public health and innovative public sector philanthropic commitments by claiming the highest “practice” ground to date on transitioning from extractive to regenerative capitalism. The transaction might even be carried out on an open-book basis so that others equally inspired might learn and similarly benefit their communities and business sectors. The nation’s business schools could finally transition from justifying “creative destruction” to showcasing “creative reconstruction” through economies that work for all.
The NY Times notes that, “The company is best-known for selling terminals that serve up reams of financial data to banks and trading firms around the world, for the nonnegotiable price of $24,000 per seat. Burton-Taylor estimates that the company brought in $10.5 billion in revenue last year. (Bloomberg’s news business accounts for a tiny fraction of its revenue.)”
Selling the company to its current employees using the latest proven EBITDA and inclusive, workplace democracy and empowerment practices, could showcase the emerging Stakeholder Capitalism paradigm as a viable path forward for other companies of all shapes and sizes. Boomer generation enterprises facing the so-called “Silver Tsunami” legacy challenge and open to local stakeholder conversion models would be re-oxygenated and the beleaguered news media sector could re-boot into a structurally more economically viable and independent future.
Leading NYC-based for-profit, non-profit and academic practitioners of hybrid-model shared ownership formulas such as union-coops and “democratic” ESOPs” as part of the overall syndicated equation could help design the “best practices” methodology paths forward. Similar to Cooperative Home Care Associates (www.chcany.org), the largest union-coop in the U.S. with over 2,000 worker-owners, affiliated with SEIU 1199, so could Bloomberg L.P., valued at $60 BN, become the nation’s largest worker-owned media company, also based in Manhattan. New York’s City Government has already provided $12 million over the past three years to develop a city-wide ecosystem to grow and support the worker co-op movement, including union cooperatives, more than any other municipality nationwide. This is how clusters are formed.
A worker and employee-owned Bloomberg could ignite the practice of transforming historically rooted, intergenerational poverty and dependency culture through demonstrated and localized, hybrid model worker and employee ownership best practices. But, can our collective public imagination move beyond conventional cable news and print journalism wisdom that advance-market-lists the usual oligarchs (Warren Buffets, Bill Gates), or platform monopolies (“data-hungry exchanges like the Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the N.Y.S.E.; banks like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, which have invested in Symphony, a rival to Bloomberg’s chat service), or “a cash-rich tech giant like Google, Amazon, Microsoft” (NY Times)?
One of the good “humanity@work” characteristics of a “democratic” ESOP (as part of an eclectic, hybrid shared ownership equation), is its tax advantages to exiting capital investors. This means that the inevitable, “huge capital gains tax” could be redesigned into “virtuous cycle” channels benefitting stakeholders as shareholders as well as the greater New York City metropolitan regional economic ecosystem. If Mr. Bloomberg “will be calculating the following trade: giving up a very rich, regular cash dividend for stock in a company he doesn’t control that could go down in price”, what better way to raise the beneficiary stakes, and offer-up a new economy “gusher-up” prototype that contrasts starkly with inequality-enabling, illusory “trickle-down” promises and projections hardly ever reaching working class paycheck-dependents for whom equity in America is always someone else’s fulfilling dream.
Why not design, execute and lead “Made, Owned & Governed in America” socioeconomic history?
Michael Alden Peck
1worker1vote executive director & co-founder