Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman and former New York City mayor, is considering whether to campaign for president of the United States, according to a report in The New York Times. If he does, his track record and experience would likely make him an attractive candidate to many techies.
According to Saturday’s report in the Times, Bloomberg, 73, “has instructed advisers to draw up plans for a potential independent campaign …and has indicated to friends and allies that he would be willing to spend at least $1 billion of his fortune on it.”
Bloomberg will make a final decision about whether to run sometime before March, the Times reported.
Few of the current candidates has amassed as impressive a record at promoting tech interests as Bloomberg. During his three terms as mayor, which ended in 2013, New York overtook Boston as the country’s second largest tech hub, trailing only Silicon Valley, by some measures. He cut the deal that brought the Cornell-Technion-Israel campus, a research and education institution, to New York’s Roosevelt Island. Last year, he donated $100 million of his own money to the building effort, which is expected to open sometime next year.
But Bloomberg, who has an engineering degree, isn’t just a booster. He built his fortune, estimated to be worth $41 billion, on the Bloomberg Terminal, the computer system that provides real-time financial information to scores of bankers, stock traders and analysts. He used to say that as the CEO and founder of the company that bears his name, he operated New York’s most successful tech venture.
Heck, the guy even tried his hand at programming. “My New Year’s resolution,” Bloomberg wrote in 2012 on Twitter, “is to learn to code.”
Not all of Bloomberg’s policies were popular with techies. His office came out against illegal file sharing. He also supported efforts that were unpopular with privacy advocates, such as increasing the number of security cameras in public spaces.
It’ll be interesting to see over the next few weeks how much the tech sector gets behind him. Judging from Internet chatter, the support is bound to be substantial. A bunch of prominent techies have already cheered the possibility of a Bloomberg run on Twitter and Re/Code has compiled a list here.