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ON THE THIRD WEDNESDAY of November 1989, while writing a story for The Wall Street Journal, my phone rang.
"Hi, it's Mike Bloomberg," he said. "I need some advice."
Knowing the 48-year-old chairman and president of the eponymous company as I did, I was suspicious. The Bloomberg, a computer screen with an array of what-if scenarios showing the relative value of stocks and bonds, was unique. He didn't need advice from anyone, least of all a journalist.
"What would it take to get into the news business?" he asked, only to be met by too many seconds of silence.
"You?" I said, implying he was nuts.
"Yes, me," he said, impatient for an answer with a dollar sign.
Financial writer that I was, I didn't have a clue what it would take. Math wasn't my best subject. So I asked him during our face-to-face meeting that day:
"What happens when your reporter writes that the chairman of your biggest customer has absconded with $10 million that belonged to shareholders, the story is true and the president of your biggest customer calls you and says the story must be removed from the Bloomberg or every one of the 2,000 Bloombergs leased by this firm will be gone tomorrow. What do you do?" I asked.
"My lawyers will love you!" he said, grinning like a kid who had just won the spelling bee.
Bloomberg News turned 15 this year. The anniversary …