Josh Tyrangiel, the wunderkind editor hired away from Time Inc. six years ago to run Bloomberg LP’s newly acquired BusinessWeek magazine (renamed Bloomberg Businessweek), is the latest high-profile journalist to join the exodus of top leaders from the company. Taking over the magazine is deputy editor (and ex-Wall Street Journal editor) Ellen Pollock, who becomes the first woman to lead the magazine since its founding in 1929.
In addition, the news division recently fired some 80 editors and reporters, among them many of the most experienced in the business, in a reorganization and refocusing under editor John Micklethwait.
“I’ve spent six years working with some of the smartest and most creative people in journalism, and it’s time for me to take my chips off the table, reflect on my criminal good luck, and think about what comes next,” Tyrangiel, 43, wrote in his memo to the staff. “I leave brimming with memories and gratitude.”
Bloomberg LP founder and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said, in a distributed statement, that “hiring Josh as the editor of Businessweek was a great decision for Bloomberg. In his six years here, he has had a profound impact. I’m sad to see him go, but our media properties are in a great place and I’m grateful for his contributions.”
Tyrangiel oversaw a flashy redesign of the foundering magazine, spicing up the covers with innuendo-laden images that included humping jetliners for a story about consolidation in the airline industry, and a tumescent stockbroker for one about the market. The stories and the style grew sharper and more consumer-friendly. In 2012, Bloomberg Businessweek won the National Magazine Award for general excellence in general interest magazines. His tenure was not without internal friction and controversy — hardly unexpected when a brash newcomer was granted so much latitude while veterans chafed under Bloomberg News’ sticklerish rules.
“As many of you will just have heard, sadly Josh Tyrangiel is leaving Bloomberg,” Micklethwait wrote in a memo to the staff. He added:
“Whenever you arrive in a new job, you look for talent, ideas and kindred spirits. Promoting Josh to join Reto [Gregori, chief lieutenant under Micklethwait] and me at the top of Editorial & Research in my first week was one of the best decisions I ever made — or at least, as Reto would describe it, one of the least bad ones. I think everyone knows what a creative editor Josh is — and you only have to look at any edition of Businessweek to understand that. What many people miss is how tirelessly Josh works, the phone calls, the attention to detail, the acts of kindness to those who work alongside him and the willingness to take on hard jobs, like helping reorganize Washington.
Right from the beginning, Josh told me that he was a restless soul and that at some time in the next year or so he would move on. I am sad that it will be tomorrow, but we should all be extremely grateful for all that he has done for Bloomberg, across all our platforms. One part of that achievement is the expert team that he is leaving behind him. Ellen Pollock, who has worked with him so closely at Businessweek, will become its editor – and for the moment Reto will take over Josh’s overseeing duties for magazines, long-form editing and the investigative unit.
There’s little reference in either statement of Tyrangiel’s fast rise through the ranks to the top of Bloomberg News’ brain trust — and sudden departure. The trend has been picking up steam following a series of scandals unsettled the news division under founding editor Matthew Winkler, and the subsequent appointment of The Economist editor Micklethwait to run the division. Despite a 20-year history of hiring and publishing first-rate journalists, especially in the business and finance sectors, Bloomberg News has been a gadfly component of the larger Bloomberg LP organization and, many of its top execs feel, has thwarted sales of the all-important, $20K-plus per year financial information terminals that are the company’s mainstay. Revenue from terminal subscriptions was $9 billion in 2014, accounting for most of the company’s net income.
After his appointment at Businessweek, Tyrangiel was given an increasing amount of responsibility over other divisions and, in August 2014, was named chief content officer, No. 2 to another young comer, Justin Smith, who had been brought in from The Atlantic as chief executive of the newly formed Bloomberg Media Group.
“To say we’ll miss him is an understatement,” Smith wrote at the end of his own memo on the departure.
(Disclosure: I was a writer and editor on the cultural news team at Bloomberg News for eight years, until the department was dissolved in 2013.)
Tyrangiel’s exit is the latest in a series of departures from the division that includes Kevin Reynolds, executive editor for Bloomberg First Word, a critical component of the news operation that he helped start in 2010; Josh Topolsky, recruited from The Verge to run Bloomberg’s digital efforts and left in July; Laurie Hayes, a senior executive editor from the Wall Street Journal who left following Micklethwait’s appointment; and Paul Marcum, global head of digital media.