Clusterstock

Syndicate content Business Insider
The latest news from Finance

WeWork offered about 1,000 people a surprisingly good deal to move to a contractor then sent some of them a letter with another deal

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 6:34pm

  • In addition to cutting 2,400 jobs last week, WeWork is also moving roughly 1,000 people on its janitorial and facilities staff off its payrolls by sending them to contract companies.
  • Business Insider has learned the details of the job offers that cleaning staff received.
  • The offer retains their current salary, seniority, includes benefits. But workers are still concerned about job security.
  • Then, on Friday, WeWork sent a letter to some of these employees that work at select buildings and offered them a different deal: stay on the payroll until the end of February without coming into work.
  • For more stories about WeWork, click here. 

In addition to cutting 2,400 jobs last week, WeWork is also moving roughly 1,000 people on its janitorial and facilities staff off its payrolls by sending them to contract companies like JLL, Unity, and ABM, sources tell Business Insider.

Business Insider has learned more details about this offer, including who got it, who didn't, and the reasonably good terms these contractor companies offered WeWork employees.

We've also learned about a last minute letter WeWork sent to some of these employees telling them they could skip the new job offer and instead take a layoff package that would keep them on the payroll, without coming into work, until late February.

Not a perfect deal — but offer letters matched salaries and seniority

Multiple sources said that the new offer letters matched employees' WeWork salaries and kept their seniority intact. After questions from CNN about how WeWork would treat its year-end 401K match — it required employment at year's end — the company also committed to issue a lump sum equivalent to the 401K match. It did not give that same offer to the 2,400 people it laid off in November, sources say.

The contract worker deal wasn't perfect. They were not guaranteed that they would be working at the same building locations or shifts, or informed if they would be moved to supporting companies other than WeWork, sources said.

Workers are also worried about job security, people familiar with the deal said. Once they transferred, workers worried that their new company could lay them off and replace them with lower-wage workers.

Even so, this was a better deal than other employees in similar situations had faced. Back in 2015, when Hewlett Packard was in the process of massive, multi-year layoffs, it shifted some employees to a contract company and employees were offered less money, fewer benefits and lost their seniority, employees told us at the time, and, like the WeWork offer, employees were told if they turned down the new job, they wouldn't qualify for severance.

WeWork employees who took the new job will begin December 9. 

Some workers in New York also got an Option B

Then, on Friday at about 6 p.m., after work hours, some employees who worked at 16 of WeWork's 65 buildings in New York got another letter.

The letter was posted by employee activist group WeWorkers Coalition, a group of about 200 WeWork employees  representing employees' interests. 

The letter told people who work at these buildings that they could refuse the new job offer and instead take a similar deal to what laid-off employees were getting.

Under the New York WARN act, that covers how companies can conduct large-scale layoffs, employees must be given 90-days notice. So employees who refused the new job offer would stay on payroll through February, 20, 2020, but "shall not report to work" for 90 days the letter said, unless their manager specifically asked them to.

Like other laid off employees, who would also remain on the payroll for 90 days, should these workers find a new job in that time, then they would stop being paid by WeWork.

Employees had until November 25, Monday, to take this other deal, the letter implied, so essentially, one business day.

But the letter did not give them instructions as to how take the layoff offer, and it only went to people who worked in select buildings, sources confirmed.  One person said that this was tied to the WARN act, which only applies to workers in locations with more than 50 employees.

So workers at buildings with fewer employees did not get the letter.

Likewise, not every janitorial and facilities employee got a contract job offer at all. Multiple sources tell us that the contract offer was primarily directed at workers while managers were laid off, including long-term employees. Business Insider confirmed that at least one manager who had worked at the company for over seven years was let go.

As odd as this, last-minute, late-night offer was, overall the sources we talked said that the janitorial staff " are getting a fair shake" and many "are happy they still have a job."

It was, however, a reversal of a 2015 decision by then COO and current co-CEO Artie Minson to bring cleaning staff in-house, after staff protested low pay and benefits and started talking with a union.

Are you an insider with insight to share? Contact Julie Bort on encrypted chat app Signal at (970) 430-6112 using a non-work phone (no PR inquiries, please), or email at jbort@businessinsider.com. Open DMs on Twitter, too, @Julie188.  

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Apple just released iOS 13.2 with 60 new emoji and emoji variations. Here's how everyday people submit their own emoji.

Goldman Sachs is assembling a team of senior bankers focused on middle-market private equity. Here are the key hires and the playbook they'll use to land new clients.

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 5:59pm

  • Goldman Sachs has assembled a team of five senior bankers devoted exclusively to building relationships with middle-market private equity firms, a first for the investment banking giant that pits it head-to-head with boutique firms that cater to those clients. 
  • David Friedland, global head of M&A in the Americas for Cross Markets Group, said that the firm plans to add two more senior bankers in 2020, rounding out what will become a seven-member managing director team to get Goldman in the door of middle-market PE firms and their portfolio companies. 
  • David Cohen Mintz officially joins Goldman from Rothschild on Dec. 9, following the November hires of Scott Smith from Piper Jaffray and Bryan D'Alessandro from BMO Capital Markets.
  • The team is rounded out by Jean Oh, who joined Goldman from Morgan Stanley in 2018 and has since been appointed with middle-market PE coverage responsibilities. 
  • "This becomes their mission," said Friedland. "You want people focused." 

Goldman Sachs has assembled a team of five senior bankers devoted exclusively to building relationships with middle-market private equity firms, a first for the investment banking giant that pits it head-to-head with boutique firms that cater to those clients. 

David Friedland, global head of M&A for Cross Markets Group, a division launched in April that's aimed at capturing M&A advisory and finance market share from companies valued at between $500 million and $2 billion, shared the details of the new hires with Business Insider in an interview. 

He said that Cross Markets Group plans to add two more senior bankers in 2020, rounding out what will become a seven-member managing director team to get Goldman in the door of middle-market PE firms and their portfolio companies. 

Goldman declined to offer figures on the expansion of more junior staff, such as vice presidents, associates and analysts, who will be devoted to middle-market PE, but said that the bank would be adding headcount in these positions as well. 

Having a dedicated team is a first for Goldman Sachs, Frieldand said. Previously, the firm's bankers who cover PE firms handled both large firm clients and middle-market clients, but now it is hoping to cover more ground in the middle-market space by establishing a dedicated team. 

"Have we had senior people in our financial sponsor coverage group covering middle market sponsors? Yes," said Friedland. "Have we had multiple people who are going to spend 100 percent of their time covering middle market sponsors? No."

"This becomes their mission," said Friedland. "You want people focused." 

Building the team 

The team of five will be finalized on Dec. 9 when David Cohen Mintz officially joins Goldman from Rothschild after more than 15 years.

Cohen Mintz will join Scott Smith, a managing director from Piper Jaffray, as well as Bryan D'Alessandro, a managing director from BMO Capital Markets, both of whom joined Nov. 11. 

Jean Oh, who joined Goldman from Morgan Stanley in 2018, has since been appointed with middle-market PE coverage responsibilities. The fifth managing director, Esma Yildiz, will be based in Europe.

The five will serve as so-called relationship bankers within the broader Cross Markets team, which is expected to staff more than 100 bankers by year's end, including 45 managing directors.

The team, led by Friedland and Will Bousquette in the Americas, and Rob Pulford in the EMEA, is comprised of both bankers who execute M&A deals and financing arrangements, as well as the industry specialists who support them by attending pitch meetings and offering sector-specific analysis and data.

Expanding market share in the middle market is a more entrepreneurial effort than Goldman's large cap M&A business, because it means cultivating new relationships rather than relying on existing ones. 

David Kamo, a managing director overseeing M&A efforts in the Americas, told us that he is flying out to clients and sitting in on lengthy private equity deal diligence sessions, instead of sending the more junior bankers that more typically handle that work.

'We have to prove ourselves every day' 

The hands-on approach is a bid to win clients over from the smaller firms that have traditionally served them — where they may have longstanding relationships and expect a certain level of personal service. 

"I think there is an expectation on the other side of the table that, 'They are Goldman Sachs and they expect to just win and have business handed to them,'" said Kamo, who has previously brought industry specialists with him to pitches in sectors like healthcare. "But we take nothing for granted. We know in this market we have to prove ourselves every day."

Proving itself has also meant rolling out new services, like a proprietary website only accessible to Goldman's PE clients where they can read curated news and information including deals, fireside chats with executives and industry reports.

"When you cover more companies and clients, leveraging technology to provide them information and insight is just a way to make incremental touches with people and enhance our brand," said Friedland. 

But perhaps most importantly, it's meant sharpening up Goldman's pitch materials, stressing its global reach, telling clients it can do things boutique firms can't — like underwriting debt — and pointing to its relationships with strategic buyers.

"There is a great chance that we have very good relationships and are in the board room and know them really well," Kamo said, "whereas the dialogue with the boutiques, for strategic buyers, tend to be more episodic."

Going into 2020, Goldman will be coming off not just a series of hires, but also the announcement of PE deals that it hopes to build upon and use to market its services to future companies.

This includes its advising on the 2019 sale of hotel operator Interstate Hotels & Resorts — a Kohlberg & Company portfolio company — to PE giant Advent International, followed up by the merger of Aimbridge Hospitality, another Kohlberg portfolio company and hotel management firm, into Interstate.

Friedland, the global head of M&A in Cross Markets Group, said hiring in 2020 will focus on the Midwest and West Coast whereas Goldman already has an East Coast team established. 

"It's early days," said Friedland. 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Taylor Swift is the world's highest-paid celebrity. Here's how she makes and spends her $360 million.

Amex Business Platinum vs. Chase Ink Business Preferred: Which small-business credit card is best for you?

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 5:39pm

If you're in the market for a business credit card, chances are you've come across the Business Platinum card from American Express and the Ink Business Preferred card from Chase. While these two cards don't have a lot in common, they're frequently cited as the most popular business cards out there — and for good reason.

Both cards earn you valuable points and offer a generous selection of redemption options, plus a slew of protections and benefits. So which card is right for you? Below is a breakdown based on some of the most important factors

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It's important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.

Read more: Who can qualify for a small-business credit card?

Amex Business Platinum vs. Ink Business Preferred: The biggest differences

Welcome bonus

The Business Platinum card currently offers a bigger welcome bonus than the Chase Ink Business Preferred. However, the spending requirement is also substantially higher. If that's a concern, I would recommend foregoing the higher welcome bonus in favor of actually meeting the spending requirement on the Chase Ink Business Preferred. After all, what good is a bigger bonus if you're going to lose out because the spending requirement is too high?

  • Business Platinum: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on eligible purchases on the Business Platinum card, all within your first three months
  • Ink Business Preferred: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months

If the spending requirement isn't a concern, then you'll want to take into account whether you'll get more value out of Amex Membership Rewards points or Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Each program has its own merits, and the best one for you depends on your redemption goals. If a business-class ticket to Europe is on your wish list, the Business Platinum card is a better bet. You can transfer points to All Nippon Airways (ANA) and book a round-trip business-class ticket on a Star Alliance carrier for just 88,000 miles round-trip.

If you're hoping to redeem your points for a hotel award, Chase's partnership with Hyatt might sway you towards the Ultimate Rewards program. Hyatt's expanding portfolio currently includes more than 850 hotels worldwide, which can be booked for 5,000 to 40,000 points per night. That welcome bonus from the Chase Ink Business Preferred can go quite a long way, depending on how you redeem it.

Annual fees

The Business Platinum card has a $595 annual fee, while the Ink Business Preferred's is $95. That's a huge gap in annual fees, but we're also talking about two very different business cards. The Business Platinum offers several annual statement credits and other perks like airport lounge access that can make the $595 fee easier to justify.

In addition to varying category bonuses and card benefits (more on that later), the Chase Ink Business does not require a fee for additional cardholders. Meanwhile, the Business Platinum Card charges $300 per additional cardholder.

Earning points

The Business Platinum card and the Ink Business Preferred both offer valuable category bonuses to help cardholders earn points — and therefore book free travel — faster.

The Business Platinum earns 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. In addition, single purchases of $5,000 or more earn 1.5 points per dollar spent, up to 1 million additional points each year. All other spending earns 1 point per dollar. These are solid earning rates for those who want to earn the most points possible on travel, but you have to book through Amex Travel to get the 5x rate.

Read more: Business Platinum card review

The Ink Business Preferred earns at least 1 point per dollar on all spending and earns 3 points on the first $150,000 in combined spending in the following categories each account anniversary year:

• Travel
• Shipping purchases
• Internet, cable and phone services
• Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines

Read more: Ink Business Preferred card review

We're essentially comparing apples and oranges here. Which card offers the more beneficial category bonuses depends on your individual spending patterns. For the average business owner, the Ink Business Preferred might be a better fit, since it offers 3x points on a wider variety of spending categories. It's important to compare the two cards against your own spending patterns and decide which one will help you earn the most points.

Redeeming points

Both the Amex Business Platinum card and the Ink Business Preferred offer cardholders multiple options when it comes to redeeming points for travel rewards. Cardholders can redeem points directly through the respective program's travel portal or transfer them to participating airlines and hotels. Some transfer partners overlap, so you'll want to keep that in mind when deciding which program is best for you.

Redeeming points for direct travel bookings

The Business Platinum card allows you to redeem your points for travel bookings made on amextravel.com. When you use Pay With Points to book a business or first-class ticket (or a ticket in any class with your selected airline), you'll get 35% of your points back. That can be a good deal, depending on the cost of the fare.

However, the Ink Business Preferred has the advantage here. All point bookings through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal are worth 25% more. So that 80,000-point welcome bonus is worth $1,200 when used through Chase's travel booking site.

Transfer partners

The Business Platinum card earns Membership Rewards points. The Membership Rewards program has 22 transfer partners:

• Aer Lingus Aeroclub
• Aero Mexico Club Premier (1:1.6 transfer ratio)
• Air Canada Aeroplan
• Air France/KLM Flying Blue
• Alitalia MileMiglia
• ANA Mileage Club
• Avianca Lifemiles
• British Airways Executive Club
• Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
• Choice Privileges Rewards
• Delta SkyMiles
• El Al Matmid (1,000 points = 20 Matmid points)
• Emirates Skywards
• Etihad Airways
• Hawaiian Airlines
• Hilton Honors (1:2 transfer ratio)
• Iberia Plus
• JetBlue TrueBlue
• Marriott Bonvoy
• Qantas Frequent Flyer
• Singapore KrisFlyer
• Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Meanwhile, the Ink Business Preferred earns Ultimate Rewards points, which can be transferred to 13 airline and hotel partners:

• Aer Lingus Aeroclub
• Air France/KLM Flying Blue
• British Airways Executive Club
• Emirates Skywards
• Iberia Plus
• IHG Rewards Club
• JetBlue TrueBlue
• Marriott Bonvoy
• Singapore KrisFlyer
• Southwest Rapid Rewards
• United MileagePlus
• Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
• World of Hyatt

Both programs have valuable transfer partners, but the best option will depend on your travel habits. The Membership Rewards program's partnership with ANA Mileage Club, Avianca Lifemiles, and Aeroplan can be particularly useful for premium-cabin flights at favorable redemption rates.

Meanwhile, Chase Ultimate Rewards has the distinction of having World of Hyatt as a transfer partner. A free night at a Hyatt hotel ranges from 5,000 to 40,000 points, which is much more preferable to Hilton's 5,000 to 95,000 points per night.

Benefits shared by both cards

For all their differences, the Business Platinum card and Chase Ink Business Preferred have a few important features in common. For starters, neither card charges foreign transaction fees. They also offer various travel protections, purchase protection, roadside assistance, extended warranty and rental car insurance. The level of coverage varies by card.

Travel protection

The Business Platinum card currently offers travel accident insurance of up to $500,000 per person. Starting in January 2020, the card will also include trip cancellation insurance of up to $10,000 per trip, as well trip delay coverage of up to $500.

The Ink Business Preferred offers trip cancellation and interruption insurance. Cardholders receive up to $5,000 per trip in case a trip is canceled or cut short due to weather and sickness.

The coverage offered by American Express is superior to what Chase is offering, especially when you factor in the upcoming additions.

Purchase protection

Sometimes you make a big purchase and it turns out to be lacking in quality. It gets damaged or maybe it's stolen. Either way, you're out a large chunk of cash. Not if you have an Amex Business Platinum or Chase Ink Business Preferred. Both cards offer purchase protection of up to $10,000 per item within 120 days of purchase. A limit of $50,000 worth of coverage is imposed per calendar year.

Extended warranty

Your purchases aren't just protected in case of damage or theft — both cards also offer extended warranty as a benefit. Make your purchases with the Business Platinum card, and American Express will match the manufacturer's warranty, if it's five years or less.

The Chase Ink Business Preferred extends the US manufacturer's warranty by just one additional year. This benefit only applies to warranties of three years or less.

Car rental insurance

If you've ever rented a car, chances are you've been subject to a pretty aggressive sales pitch for buying additional insurance. You've heard how your primary insurance won't be affected if you're in an accident, and how could you possibly turn this incredible offer down? "My credit card covers it." That's all you have to say when you have an Ink Business Preferred card, which comes with primary car rental coverage in case of an accident when you're renting a car for business purposes.

The Business Platinum card, meanwhile, offers secondary coverage, which kicks in after your personal car insurance in the event of an accident.

No matter which card you use, remember that some exclusions apply. I recently tried to rent a large 12-passenger van and found out the Ink Business Preferred did not cover vehicles of this size. Be sure to read up on your card coverage ahead of time.

Benefits that are unique to each card

The Business Platinum card offers more benefits than the Ink Business Preferred card, which makes sense given their very different annual fees.

From hotel elite status to merchant discounts to annual travel rebates, these benefits are ideal for frequent travelers who don't mind paying the $595 annual fee:

The only distinctive benefit offered by the Ink Business Preferred is cell phone protection, which covers up to $600 toward cell phone theft and damage per incident. The benefit does come with a $100 deductible, and cardholders can make up to three claims per 12 months.

Which card is right for you?

If you're a business owner deciding between these cards, it's important to focus on the relevance of benefits for you rather than the quantity. The Business Platinum card has an impressive lineup of travel benefits, point transfer partners, and protections in place, but they're only valuable if you put them to use. You'll want to make sure you can utilize most of the card's perks before you commit to the $595 annual fee. If you don't think you'll use the various travel perks and statement credits from the Business Platinum, the Chase Ink Business Preferred might be a better option for you.

And if neither card has what you're looking for and you just want a card with straightforward rewards and no annual fee, then you may want to consider the Blue Business Plus® Credit Card frm American Express. It earns 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on the first $50,000 (then 1x) and has no annual fee. It's great if you want access to the Membership Rewards program and accelerated rewards without thinking about category bonuses or whether you're getting your money's worth out of an annual fee.

Click here to learn more about the Business Platinum card from American Express. Click here to learn more about the Ink Business Preferred card from Chase.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How to find water when you're stuck in the desert

7 signs you might be giving your grandkids too much money

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 5:25pm

  • Giving money to your grandchild could help them out significantly if done right.
  • But if those gifts are impacting your own financial well-being, draining your retirement account, or putting you in a tight situation, you might be giving them too much. 
  • While your grandchildren might really appreciate the gift, it's important to remember that protecting your financial health in retirement is just as important. 
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

Just about everyone wants to spoil their grandchildren. But how do you know if you've gone too far?

Financial planner John Pak of Otium Advisory Group in Los Angeles, California, shared several signs you're probably giving your grandchildren too much money, below. 

1. Your retirement account is draining quicker than it should be

If you're finding that your retirement account balance is going down faster than you expected, it's time to re-evaluate what you're giving your grandkids.  

"I'm always looking for signs of drainage a little too fast," Pak says. 

From a planner perspective, he continues that it's important to put yourself first. "Instead of giving gifts, you might want to just hold onto your assets." 



2. You're spending too much each month

Having a negative cash flow could make it hard to maintain your retirement savings for years to come.

"If your lifestyle starts to get in the way or if you're giving away too much money, then that also compromises your cash flow," Pak says. 

While it might be nice to treat your grandkids now, that money could have a big long-term impact on how you'll be able to live in retirement. "If grandparents are giving away money that compromises their retirement income, then I would put my foot down," says Pak, and cut back on the gifts. 



3. You're not saving any money

If you're still working, you should still be saving for retirement, whether you're retiring in one month or in 10 years. It's not worth sacrificing your own retirement to give to your grandchildren. 

"The No. 1 concern that retirees have is, 'Am I going to outlive my money, or is my money going to outlive me?'" Pak says. "Grandparents would much prefer the latter."

Even if you're retiring soon, it's a good idea to keep contributing as much as you can to a 401(k) to take advantage of any employer match, and continuing to save more for retirement in an IRA account.



4. You've tapped into your emergency fund for gifts

Your emergency fund is still as essential in retirement as it was when you were working. Even as you transition to living on your savings and pension or Social Security earnings, your emergency fund isn't something to give up. If you feel like you need to take money out of this account to cover gifts, you might not be able to afford your gifts. 

As a general rule, your emergency fund should cover six months of your expenses. While your expenses may have decreased since you retired, it's always better to have more than you need than less. If you want to grow your emergency fund, try a high yield savings account to keep it accessible, but earning interest at rates up to 20 times higher than traditional savings accounts. 



5. You feel like you're living paycheck to paycheck

Retirement isn't a time when you want to be living paycheck to paycheck. But, if you're spending too much on supporting your grandkids, you might be feeling that way. As a retiree, it's possible that you won't be able to make up lost savings, putting you in a tough situation.

"If you're living on a fixed income, we want to make sure that you maintain that fixed income.  You have to satisfy your fixed obligations," Pak says. "So, anytime that income level starts to drop because you're giving away too much money, that's when the red light goes on."



6. They're always expecting a gift — and they might not be using it wisely

Gifting money to your grandchildren can be incredibly helpful to help them get ahead in life. But, if they're always expecting a gift, or they aren't using it wisely, you might be gifting so much that they're starting to take it for granted.

If you think this is the case, Pak says there's one good way to make sure your gift goes directly where you'd like it to go: by gifting it directly into their accounts. Whether that's into an investment account or towards their college tuition, writing a check might not be the most effective way to get the money used for that goal.

To ensure that money is going where you'd like it to, ask your grandchild for information on their school, brokerage account, or other account. "Talk to the brokerage institution directly and ask, 'Can you share with me the various ways of transferring money?'" Pak says. Then, you can give the gift directly. "I think that's probably the safest route," he continues, "just writing the check directly to the institution."



7. You're giving so much that you need to file tax forms

In 2019, if you give more than $15,000 to a grandchild, or $30,000 for a couple, you'll have to file gift tax forms. You won't have to pay the taxes on your gift unless you've given more than $11.3 million in your lifetime, however. "If grandparents want to avoid filing estate tax forms, keep gifts under $15,000," says Pak.

It might be easier to reach the yearly limit than you think, especially if you're trying to help your grandchild pay for college or make a down payment. But, it might be another sign that you're giving too much.  



Capital One Spark Miles for Business review: With a sign-up bonus worth up to $2,000 and flexible options for using your miles, it's hard to beat

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 5:21pm

  • If you're looking for a business credit card that earns you bonus rewards without lots of hoops to jump through, the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business could be the perfect option.
  • This card earns 2 miles for every dollar you spend, and there is no limit to the rewards you can earn.
  • Redeeming your rewards is also easy. Once you start earning "miles," you get to redeem them to cover travel expenses at a rate of 1 cent per point
  • The Spark Miles for Business also lets you transfer points to 15 airline partners, which could be a good deal if you fly often with a specific carrier.
  • The card is currently offering an increased sign-up bonus of up to 200,000 miles. You'll earn 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months, and 150,000 miles after spending $50,000 in the first six months. 
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

Earning rewards on your business purchases can be a smart idea if you have the means to pay your credit card balance in full each month. After all, many business credit cards offer cash back, travel rewards, or flexible points you can use in several different ways. And depending on your average business spending, you have the potential to earn and enjoy thousands of dollars in rewards and benefits each year.

The Spark Miles for Business from Capital One is a solid business card to consider if you want to earn a flat rate of rewards that are easy to redeem. This card gives you an unlimited 2 "miles" for each dollar you spend, and you can redeem them to cover any travel purchases you want. Plus, it's currently offering a very valuable elevated sign-up bonus of up to 200,000 miles if your business can spend $50,000 in the first six months.

Depending on your spending habits and rewards goals, the Spark Miles for Business could be a good fit for your needs.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It's important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back. 

Read more: Who can qualify for a small-business credit card?

Capital One Spark Miles for Business card details

Annual fee: $95 annual fee; waived the first year

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 miles once you spend $5,000 on your card within three months of account opening, 150,000 miles after you spend $50,000 in the first six months from account opening

Earning structure: Earn a flat 2 miles for each dollar you spend, and earn 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked via Capital One Travel

Redemption options: Cash in points to cover travel expenses charged to your card, or transfer to 15 airline partners

Foreign transaction fee: None

Sign-up bonus and everyday earning

This card starts you off with a very lucrative sign-up bonus. To earn the full 200,000 miles, your business needs to spend $50,000 in the first six months. If you're a freelancer or have a smaller business, that might not be realistic, but for larger enterprises it could be easy — in which case this offer is a great way to maximize your spending.

Once you sign up, you'll need to spend $5,000 within three months of account opening to earn 50,000 miles worth $500 in travel. If you spend $50,000 in the first six months, you'll earn 150,000 miles, for a total of 200,000 miles.

On top of that, you'll earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend. This means that, if you spend the $50,000 required to earn the full 200,000-mile sign-up bonus, you'd have 300,000 miles, or $3,000 in travel rewards, to spend off the bat.

The Spark Miles for Business recently added a bonus spending category. You'll earn 5 miles per dollar when you book hotels and rental cars through Capital One Travel. This amounts to a strong return on spending if you're interested in booking travel directly through Capital One.

With this flat-rate earning structure, with just one (new) bonus category, the Spark Miles for Business is one of the least-complicated business rewards credit cards available today.

Cashing in your rewards

The Spark Miles for Business card also keeps things simple on the redemption end. Since this card offers flexible travel credit, you can use your rewards to "erase" travel purchases from your bill at a rate of 1 cent per mile.

In other words, you would simply use your credit card to pay for travel purchases like hotels or flights, then cash in your rewards to cover all or part of your travel purchases. However, the rules state you have to redeem points for travel expenses within 90 days of the purchase being made.

Also note that, like the Capital One® Venture Rewards® Credit Card, the Spark Miles for Business now lets you transfer points to 15 different airlines. Transfer partners include:

Aeromexico
Air Canada
Air France, KLM
Alitalia
Avianca
Cathay Pacific
Etihad
EVA Air
Finnair
Hainan Airlines
JetBlue
Qantas
Qatar Airways
Emirates
Singapore Airlines

Most of these transfer partners come with a 2:1.5 ratio, meaning 2 Capital One miles turn into 1.5 airline miles. However, Emirates, JetBlue, and Singapore Airlines come with a 2:1 ratio.

Spark Miles for Business cardholder benefits

The Spark Miles for Business offers a lot of benefits that can make signing up a rewarding experience. For starters, this card gives you up to a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. All you need to do to qualify is pay with your credit card when you apply.

You also get free employee cards, which can be especially useful if you have several employees and want to earn rewards on their business purchases.

The Spark Miles for Business also comes with several important travel benefits. Perks include auto rental damage waiver insurance, travel and emergency assistance services, and extended warranties.

Spark Miles for Business costs and fees

Like we mentioned already, this card does have a $95 annual fee. But since this fee is waived the first year, you get a full 12 months to see if you like the card and the benefits it offers.

Note that the Spark Miles for Business also comes with a variable 18.74% APR, and you won't get an initial break on interest for purchases. This high APR makes carrying a balance on this card an expensive proposition — it's something that should be avoided.

Other fees and costs to be aware of include a 3% fee (minimum $10) and a 24.74% variable APR for cash advances. Also note that you'll pay a 31.15% variable penalty APR that can apply if you pay your credit card bill past its due date.

All of this means the Spark Miles for Business is best for business owners who can pay their balance on time and in full. If you need to carry a balance or are prone to paying your bill late, you may want to consider a different business credit card.

Is the Spark Miles for Business right for you?

The Spark Miles for Business is a good business credit card for anyone who doesn't want to deal with complicated rewards programs. You have the option to transfer your miles to airlines, but you can also just redeem them for any travel expenses you want. This means you'll never be stuck with rewards you can't use. It's also helpful that you get free cards for employees.

Now is a great time to apply for this card if your business spends a lot, since the current offer could get you up to 200,000 miles.

Click here to learn more about the Capital One Spark Miles for Business.

SEE ALSO: All our credit card reviews — from cash-back to travel rewards to business cards — in one place

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A podiatrist explains heel spurs, the medical condition Trump said earned him a medical deferment from Vietnam

Michael Bloomberg built a $54 billion company. For 2 decades, women who worked there have called it a toxic, sexually charged nightmare.

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 4:56pm

Bloomberg LP, the financial-data firm that presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg founded in 1981, has repeatedly been described as a sexualized, predatory environment in harassment and discrimination complaints from several women, a Business Insider investigation has found.

In court records going back 20 years, multiple women have accused Michael Bloomberg of permitting his company to become — in the words of one former employee — a "reckless playground" for male senior executives to "target young, female, naive employees" for sex.

Two women, including one who filed a claim as recently as 2016, alleged that they were sexually assaulted by Bloomberg LP executives and terminated after raising complaints.

Michael Bloomberg has been accused repeatedly in court records of making crude remarks, including telling employees, "You must be a great fuck" and "I would like nothing more in life than to have Sharon Stone sit on my face."

While his spokesman has portrayed those sorts of comments as unfortunate episodes from decades ago, Bloomberg and his company face five active discrimination complaints as he launches his presidential bid.

Subscribe to read our story: Michael Bloomberg built a $54 billion company. For 2 decades, women who worked there have called it a toxic, sexually charged nightmare.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: WeWork went from a $47 billion valuation to a failed IPO. Here's how the company makes money.

I've been using Mint for 3 years to track my spending and visualize my budget — here's what it's like to use the personal finance app

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 4:22pm

  • Mint is one of the most popular personal finance apps.
  • I've been using Mint for three years, and it's helped me track my daily transactions and visualize my spending.
  • Here's what it's like to use Mint.
  • Visit MarketsInsider.com for more stories.

I like to track where my money goes so I can make sure that my spending matches my priorities and my budget.

I’ve done this for years — first in a little notebook and later in spreadsheets. When that got to be too much trouble, I downloaded Mint.

Mint is one of the most popular personal finance apps on the market. Made by the financial-software company Intuit — the same company behind TurboTax — Mint claimed to have 20 million users worldwide in 2016.

I've been using Mint for three years, and found it a useful tool to track my daily transactions and keep my budget in line. It also visualizes my spending activity in useful reports I can access any time. The app is free, although it does show ads for financial service and credit cards. 

Here's a step-by-step guide to how Mint works:

Mint is the popular personal finance app from Intuit, the makers of TurboTax.

After you create your Mint login, you’ll be prompted to add financial institutions where you have accounts. Simply type in the name of the bank or credit card and a list will pop up. Select your bank from the list.

Once you're set up, you can log into Mint on your computer or smartphone to view or enter information. I primarily use Mint on my phone to enter and update transactions I make on the fly.

Mint is pretty good at categorizing transactions. If a business has 'taqueria' in its name, for example, Mint knows to place it in the Restaurant category.

When Mint can't assign a category, such as for a check, it marks the transaction 'Uncategorized.' You can filter your transactions on your phone or computer to pull up the uncategorized entries and assign them to specific categories.

You can also split a transaction. I use this differentiate cash back from groceries or clothes from housewares at a department store.

One of my favorite features of Mint is that it learns my categories. For example, I got a bike tune-up at a shop called Allrounder. Mint didn't know what to with it, so it put the expense in the 'Hair' category. I changed it to one of my custom categories, Bike Stuff. Next time I have a transaction at that business, Mint will remember that it's bike-related and put it in the right category.

I look at Mint more often than I look at my bank account, and it helps me catch and deal with problems quickly. In addition, Mint will send me an alert if I spend an unusual amount in one of my categories. After Mint mistakenly classified my bike expense under Hair, I got an email about unusual spending in that category. The alert got me to check my Mint feed, find the problem, and fix it.

The app visualizes my spending, so I can see my budget at a glance.

Mint provides an easy way to visualize my cash flow. The app also emails me spending summaries, too.

Meanwhile, the Mint website offers a wealth of graphics to show me how I’m doing on my budget or trends in my spending. I like to download my Mint transactions to a spreadsheet where I can create my own reports.

You can set goals for your budgeting, like 'pay off credit card debt,' 'buy a home,' or 'save for college.'

You can also track your investment accounts and even view your credit score in the app.

I've been using Mint for three years, and on balance, it's saved me time and helped me stay on top of my finances.

SEE ALSO:

11 mind-blowing facts about the US economy



11 mind-blowing facts about China's economy

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 4:19pm

China is the world's largest exporter. Your air conditioner was probably made in China, as was your computer and maybe even your shoes.

But there's a lot more to China's economy than the goods it exports to the US.

China's booming economy means a booming demand for luxury brands and a growing list of billionaires. And old traditions have been given a modern twist — Lunar New Year is not only the most important and widely celebrated Chinese holiday, but now the biggest shopping week of the year, too.

Here are 11 facts you might not have known about the modern Chinese economy:

China imports more US agricultural products than Canada and Mexico

China is the main market for agricultural exports from the US, beating our closest neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Soybeans accounted for more than half of the $9.2 billion China bought from US farmers in 2018.



China is home to a retailer bigger than Walmart and Amazon

If you think the world's biggest retailer is Walmart, think again. If you think Amazon is the biggest online retailer, wrong again. Both titles go to Alibaba.

China's online sales giant moves almost three times as much merchandise as Amazon and, when you count its subsidiaries, it has inched past Walmart as the biggest retailer. Alibaba is making a foray into the American e-commerce market with AliExpress, which is already the sixth-biggest online-shopping site in the US.



China has the second-largest number of billionaires, after the US

The number of billionaires in China (388) is a little more than half that of the US (680). And, collectively, US billionaires have almost three times as much money as those in China. But China is coming up fast, adding 55 new billionaires in 2017, the most of any country (though a 2018 downturn knocked 49 billionaires down to mere millionaires).



But the richest man in China is only the 21st richest person in the world

The richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, with a fortune of $131 billion, owns the second biggest online retail business, Amazon. Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba, the world's largest retailer, is only No. 21 on the Forbes billionaires list, behind people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerberg. Ma's net worth is slightly less than $40 billion.



Chinese consumers spend $73 billion on luxury goods each year

According to McKinsey, there were 7.6 million Chinese families wealthy enough to buy luxury brands in 2016. Millennials are driving this trend, which added up to $73 billion in spending in 2018, or nearly a third of the world's market for high-end and high-status products.



China's export economy grew 954% between 1970 and 2010

For years, communist China had a closed economy that did almost no international trade. According to World Bank data, exports accounted for less than 3% of its GDP in 1970. By 2010, that figure had risen to over 26%, down from a high of 36% in 2006.



Average household income in China has increased by over 400% in 10 years

China's booming economy hasn't just created billionaires, it has also helped raise living standards for working people. Between 2002 and 2012, China's average household income rose from $987 per year to $4,273, an increase of over 400%. By 2013, that figure was up to $4,806, almost five times as much as in 2002.



With a much bigger population, China has fewer poor people than the US

The World Bank poverty line, globally, is an income of $1.90 per day. By 2015, only 0.7% of the Chinese population were at or below the poverty level, with about 9.9 million in this category out of a population of 1.35 billion.

China's own national poverty line is higher, and even by that metric, only 3.1% of the population — 30.5 million people — lives in poverty.

Meanwhile, in the US, 12.3% of the population falls below the national poverty line, which in the 48 contiguous states is $12,490 a year for an individual or $25,750 a year for a family of four, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. That's 39.7 million Americans living in poverty.



Singles can hire a date for as little as $0.15 an hour in China's growing date-rental industry

China's one-child policy has resulted in an extreme gender imbalance. There are about 34 million more Chinese men than women. In a society that calls an unmarried adult a "leftover man," this poses a problem.

One solution: hire a date. Newsweek reported that Chinese singles can hire a date for as little as 15 cents an hour, up to $288 an hour (sex not included).

Read more: Chinese men are using apps to hire fake girlfriends, and the story of a woman who got 700 offers illustrates the country's growing marriage problem

 



Lunar New Year is the biggest shopping week in China

Lunar New Year is celebrated for a whole week each year, usually sometime in February. Many people travel home and buy gifts. Chinese consumers spent the equivalent of $149 billion in 2019, according to Bloomberg.



China recently reopened a legal market in endangered tiger and rhino parts

China has long been the main destination for black-market endangered-animal parts, prized for their medicinal value. Ground rhino horn was supposed to cure fevers and reduce blood pressure. Tigers were thought to protect you from being cursed, and the parts from one tiger could sell for as much as $50,000, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

For many years, China was part of a global effort to stop the poaching of threatened species. But, last year, China created a legal market for farmed tiger and rhino parts. Conservationists fear this could open the door to more poaching of these highly endangered animals.



SEE ALSO:

13 mind-blowing facts about Russia's economy



16 brilliant quotes from Bill Gross, the legendary 'Bond King' who retired earlier this year

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 4:07pm

  • Bill Gross, the world's most famous bond investor, has a net worth calculated at around $1.5 billion, and would have easily a billion dollars more if not for a recent contentious divorce.
  • For many years, Gross oversaw Pacific Investment Management Company's Total Return Fund, the largest bond fund on the planet.
  • We compiled 16 of Gross' most memorable quotes over the years.
  • Visit MarketsInsider.com for more stories.

Stories follow Bill Gross like rats to the Pied Piper. From the lurid details leaked about his 2018 divorce to record-setting sales of stamp collections to the ugly end to his time at Pacific Investment Management Company, his life has been a fascinating story to follow.

Before Gross was hailed as the "Bond King" and was managing PIMCO's Total Return Fund, the single biggest such fund in the world, he earned a degree in psychology from Duke University, saw combat multiple times in Vietnam, got an MBA from UCLA, and earned a living playing blackjack in Las Vegas.

Gross retired earlier this year at age 74 after his four-year tenure running a fund at Janus Henderson didn't live up to expectations.

While he may no longer be active in the business, Gross is still outspoken and highly visible, and has lots of memorable quotations from years past.

Here are 16 of the most brilliant quotes from Bill Gross:

'People have different impressions of themselves, and where reality lies is somewhere in between'

Source: MarketWatch



'My early blackjack career taught me several things. The first is that if you apply yourself with a lot of hard work and mathematical prowess you can beat the system.'

Source: The Guardian



'Finding the best person or the best organization to invest your money is one of the most important financial decisions you'll ever make'

Source: Financial Express



'Human nature means that institutions at some point lose their sense of mission'

Source: CNN Money 

Read more: 11 mind-blowing facts about the US economy



'If companies don't know that they can run out of money, they won't be thinking of ways not to run out of money'

Source: Harvard Business Review



'You know those adages about smelling the roses and chasing butterflies? The markets are my butterflies and my roses'

Source: Bloomberg

Read more: A day in the life of a Lyft vice president, who wakes up at 6 a.m. and rarely spends a minute at her desk



'It seems, perhaps, that the longer and longer you keep at it in this business, the more and more time you have to expose your Achilles heel'

Source: CNBC



'I would admit I'm an introvert. I don't know why introverts have to apologize'

Source: Reuters



'Do you really like a particular stock? Put 10% or so of your portfolio on it; make the idea count. Good ideas should not be diversified away into meaningless oblivion'

Source: The Motley Fool



'We are witnessing the death of abundance and the borning of austerity, for what may be a long, long time.'

Gross wrote those words in 2012 at the end of a monthly letter for PIMCO.

Source: Business Insider 

Read more: 7 ways American work habits have changed in the past 10 years



'The market can move for irrational reasons, and you have to be prepared for that'

Source: CNN Money 



'I'm an Asperger, and Aspergers can compartmentalize. They can operate in different universes without the other universes affecting them as much.'

Source: MarketWatch



'Stocks historically return more than almost all other alternative investments, but only when priced right when the race begins'

Source: The Street



'Bond investors are the vampires of the investment world. They love decay, recession — anything that leads to low inflation and the protection of the real value of their loans'

Source: QFINANCE: The Ultimate Resource, 4th edition



'I am obsessed with delivering value to investors and winning the game from a personal standpoint'

Source: Business Insider



'When you're underperforming the index, you go home at night and cry in your beer. It's not fun, but who said this business should be fun. We're too well paid to hang our heads and say boo-hoo'

Source: CNBC



SEE ALSO:

Here are the 21 most brilliant quotes from Warren Buffett, the world's most famous and successful investor



9 facts about the New York City housing market that will make you glad you live somewhere else

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 3:41pm

  • New York City is the biggest city in the US, and it has an equally massive housing market.
  • The average rent in Manhattan is more than $3,000, and prices in the other boroughs aren't far behind.
  • Here are nine surprising facts about New York housing that will make you glad you live somewhere else.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

New York City is the biggest city in the United States, and it has an equally massive real estate market.

Across the city, rents are climbing to historic rates, with an average Manhattan apartment costing more than $3,000 a month. Only San Francisco has a higher average rent than the Big Apple.

At the same time, tens of thousands of New Yorkers are being squeezed out of the housing market altogether and pushed onto the streets.

There are plenty of things about New York's housing market that would make you think twice about moving to the city.

Here are nine facts that will make you glad you live somewhere else.

The average New York rent is about 82% of the median American salary

Rents in New York have risen to record heights of late. Manhattan rent reached an all-time high of $3,217 in the first three months of 2019, according to a StreetEasy Manhattan Rent Index report. An entire year's worth of rent is $38,604, more than three quarters of the average American annual salary of $47,060.

Read more: 11 facts about San Francisco's housing market that will make you glad you live somewhere else



More New Yorkers pay rent than the number of people who live in city of Los Angeles

New York is the most populous city in the US, and the majority of residents are paying rent as opposed to owning their own places.

Nearly two-thirds of residents in New York live in rent-occupied units, according to the New York City Department of City Planning. The number of people renting housing units in New York alone is more than twice the national average. Two thirds of New York's 8.5 million residents is still larger than all the 4 million residents in Los Angeles, America's second biggest city.



Yankee Stadium couldn't hold all the New Yorkers who are living in homeless shelters

The average number of people staying in city shelters nightly peaked to a record of nearly 64,000 people in January 2019, according to a report by the Coalition for the Homeless.

That's 17,000 more than the capacity of Yankee Stadium, which can hold 47,309 people.

The coalition projects that the number of homeless people seeking shelter in the city will continue to climb to more than 65,000 by 2022.



Manhattan homes are currently left on the market for an average of four months

Although the New York real estate market can be notoriously competitive, Manhattan homes actually end up staying on the market longer than you might expect.

Across all five boroughs, New Yorkers trying to sell their homes are facing longer and longer wait times to reach final sales, according to StreetEasy Market Reports. Manhattan homes in particular spent an average of 117 days on the market, the highest figure the city has seen in seven years.



Even the cheapest Manhattan neighborhood has an average rent of more than $1,600

The least expensive rents in Manhattan can be found in the neighborhood of Inwood at the northern tip of the island. But even there, residents are still paying $1,623 a month, according to City Realty.

In nearby Washington Heights, renters can find a studio for an average of $1,669, making it the second cheapest neighborhood.



There was only one part of the city where rent actually decreased last year

According to StreetEasy market reports, there's only one area of the entire city where rents fell in the first quarter of 2018.

That would be North Brooklyn, where a surplus of property remained empty as an impending shutdown of the local subway line approached. Rents in the market fell to $3,061, a mere drop of 0.5% from the previous quarter.

Those rents very well may go back up, now that city officials announced the subway shutdown would be partially averted.



Less than a quarter of housing units in Brooklyn are offering cuts on rent

With fewer people buying and more renting, New York landlords have the upper hand, and are less likely to offer markdowns to prospective tenants.

In Brooklyn, rent cuts are down 6.7% from last year, according to a 2019 StreetEasy report. The trend of shrinking rent cuts is true across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Rent cuts dropped to the smallest discount on record in Brooklyn and Queens, each at 3.4% and dipping close to an all-time low in Manhattan at 3.9%.



The percentage of homes for sale is up 11.7%

The total number of homes for sale in Manhattan increased 11.7% year-over-year, according to StreetEasy. Inventory grew across the borough, with Upper Manhattan gaining the largest relative share of new inventory at 18.4%.



More than 1 million New Yorkers are living below the poverty line

NY1 reported in 2017 that 1.5 million New Yorkers were living below the poverty level.

In New York's poorest neighborhoods, many of which are in the Bronx, the homeownership rate is dismal — just 8.8%, compared to 50% for the rest of the metro area.



READ MORE:

11 incredible facts about the $700 billion US trucking industry »



Michael Jackson, Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, and Trump: An activist investor just called out Tom Barrack's controversial dealings

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 3:34pm

  • Tom Barrack's links to the Mueller investigation and ties to Michael Jackson, Harvey Weinstein, and Jeffrey Epstein were thrust into the spotlight on Tuesday after an activist investor in Colony Capital published a scathing letter calling for his resignation as CEO.
  • Blackwells Capital detailed a laundry list of Barrack's alleged shortcomings, from his iron grip on Colony and decision to pursue a merger, to his Aspen address and polo playing.
  • "We know of no public company board that would continue to employ a CEO who lived 900 miles from headquarters, has been persistently mired in investigations and scandals, appeared to put friendships above objective business evaluations and who had destroyed so much shareholder value," Blackwells wrote.
  • Barrack "appears to be a magnet for famous people involved in scandals; he has had widely reported personal relationships with Michael Jackson, Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein, for example," Blackwells wrote in a footnote.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Tom Barrack's links to the Mueller investigation and ties to Michael Jackson, Harvey Weinstein, and Jeffrey Epstein were thrust into the spotlight on Tuesday after an activist investor published a scathing letter calling for his resignation as CEO of Colony Capital.

Blackwells Capital, which owns about 1.85% of the real estate investment firm, detailed a laundry list of Barrack's alleged shortcomings, from his iron grip on Colony and decision to pursue a merger, to his Aspen address and polo playing.

"Colony's board has given Tom Barrack too much deference and too much latitude for too long," Jason Aintabi, Blackwells' investment chief, said in the letter. "His continued, imperial reign over the company damages its credibility and business prospects and creates a tremendous overhang on the stock."

Blackwells continued: "We know of no public company board that would continue to employ a CEO who lived 900 miles from headquarters, has been persistently mired in investigations and scandals, appeared to put friendships above objective business evaluations and who had destroyed so much shareholder value."

Barrack "appears to be a magnet for famous people involved in scandals; he has had widely reported personal relationships with Michael Jackson, Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein, for example," Blackwells said in a footnote.

(In "Fire and Fury," author Michael Wolff reported Barrack, Epstein, and Donald Trump were a "set of nightlife musketeers" in the 1980s and 1990s.)

Blackwells added that it would nominate five "exceptional candidates" to Colony's board at its upcoming annual meeting. 

Colony's board and management team are "committed to acting in the best interests of the company and all of its stockholders," Colony said in a statement to Business Insider. "There are a number of factual inaccuracies in Blackwells' press release which we will address at a later date."

These are some of the most colorful quotes and incendiary claims from Blackwells' letter:

  • Colony's three-way merger with NorthStar Realty Finance and NorthStar Asset Management created a "Frankensteinian combination" of real estate investing and advisory businesses.
  • The board allows Barrack to "dilly-dally" and work from Aspen, where Colony has no offices.
  • Colony's latest earnings call was "disjointed, sloppy, and unprofessional."
  • The board has been "irrepressibly derelict" in its duties.
  • Barrack treats Colony as his "fiefdom" despite his "abysmal track record."
  • Colony's bosses are "over-compensated" and it's "unfathomable" that its overheads and infrastructure costs are similar to those of rival Brookfield, which has nearly nine times the value of assets under management.
  • Barrack suffers from "enormous personal distractions and tangible conflicts of interest," and has been "persistently mired in investigations and scandals," including at least two Congressional investigations and at least one reported criminal investigation.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren sent Barrack a letter accusing him of engaging in "improper and unethical activities."
  • The House Oversight Committee cited Barrack in a staff report for "lobbying the Trump administration for personal appointments and special arrangements that could have involved transferring nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia." Barrack negotiated directly with Trump and other White House officials in a bid to become the special envoy to the Middle East or the ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.
  • Barrack, who served as chairman of Donald Trump's inauguration committee, allegedly "used friendship and politics as criteria for business deals." He added Washington lobbyist Rick Gates to Colony's payroll and paid him $20,000 in monthly consulting payments until the Mueller investigation named Gates as a witness and he was indicted on charges including money laundering and violating foreign lobbying and tax laws, Blackwells said, citing a New York Times report.
  • Blackwells said it was "outraged" that Barrack was able to "hand-pick his successor." Colony agreed to acquire Digital Bridge for $325 million in June, and announced its CEO Marc Ganzi would succeed Barrack as Colony's CEO. Barrack has known Ganzi "for decades" and "regularly plays polo" with him, Blackwells said.
  • Barrack has a "history of and recidivistic flirtations with vanity projects" including Neverland Ranch and the Weinstein Co, Blackwells said. After Michael Jackson defaulted on the mortgage for his infamous estate, Barrack used some investor money to buy the $23 million loan and canceled a planned auction of the property in 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported. Colony offered to buy some or all of The Weinstein Company's assets in October 2017 after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, but walked away after the two sides failed to agree on a price, the New York Times reported.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A big-money investor in juggernauts like Facebook and Netflix breaks down the '3rd wave' firms that are leading the next round of tech disruption

Michael Bloomberg built a $54 billion company. For 2 decades, women who worked there have called it a toxic, sexually charged nightmare.

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 3:24pm

  • Bloomberg LP, the financial-data firm that presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg founded in 1981, has repeatedly been described as a sexualized, predatory environment in harassment and discrimination complaints from several women, a Business Insider investigation has found.
  • In court records going back 20 years, multiple women have accused Michael Bloomberg of permitting his company to become — in the words of one former employee — a "reckless playground" for male senior executives to "target young, female, naive employees" for sex.
  • Two women, including one who filed a claim as recently as 2016, alleged that they were sexually assaulted by Bloomberg LP executives and terminated after raising complaints.
  • Michael Bloomberg has been accused repeatedly in court records of making crude remarks, including telling employees, "You must be a great fuck" and "I would like nothing more in life than to have Sharon Stone sit on my face."
  • While his spokesman has portrayed those sorts of comments as unfortunate episodes from decades ago, Bloomberg and his company face five active discrimination complaints as he launches his presidential bid.

Mary Ann Olszewski and Margaret Doe are of two different generations, but they have similar tales to tell.

Olszewski started her career in the 1990s, and Doe started 20 years later. Both women were in their 20s when they landed exciting new jobs in sales at a prestigious financial-data firm.

And both women said they walked into similar environments. Almost immediately they felt like pieces of meat. They said older male colleagues made lewd sexual comments and pressured them to drink alcohol during work events. Conversations with powerful men at the company felt too personal. Olszewski said her boss sent her a pager message with the return number of a porn shop. Doe said her boss described his adult circumcision surgery to her and showed her photos of his bandaged penis.

They wanted it to stop, but they didn't want to sabotage their careers.

Both women said it was challenging to find someone willing to listen. It was a private company, run by the notoriously prickly billionaire who founded it and ruled as its president and CEO.

He had been frequently accused of making sexist remarks and leering at young women on his staff, behavior they said fostered a macho culture throughout the company. Many women felt pressured to wear short skirts and heels, they said. The management structure was loose and undefined, and they felt that the HR department wouldn't listen.

Both women said they left the company the same way: At the end of a night of drinking, they were sexually assaulted by a senior male colleague. After she finally built up the courage to tell someone that she had been raped by a superior, Olszewski said she was fired. Doe said the alleged assault sparked depression and anxiety that led to an extended medical leave.

The allegations above come from lawsuits that Olszewski and Doe filed, 20 years apart, against Bloomberg LP, the $54 billion firm that former New York City Mayor and recently announced presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg founded in 1981. At the time of both alleged assaults, Bloomberg was the company's president and CEO.

Bloomberg LP has faced nearly 40 employment lawsuits from 64 people since 1996

As he plots his presidential campaign, Bloomberg has sought to distance himself from the more contentious aspects of his nearly five-decade career as an entrepreneur and politician. He apologized for his support of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy, which has become enormously unpopular among the base of the Democratic Party. And he has expressed regret over the voluminous record of crude and demeaning comments about women — "I'd do that piece of meat" and "Look at the ass on her" — that have been attributed to him over the years.

"Mike has come to see that some of what he has said is disrespectful and wrong," his spokesman, Stu Loeser, told The New York Times in November about his boss' history of crude remarks. The paper quoted Bloomberg supporters saying that they had never heard him make sexist commentary and arguing that "he's one of the biggest champions for women in this country and all over the world."

But a Business Insider investigation, including a review of thousands of pages of court records, has found that the company that bears Bloomberg's name has a long and consistent history of attracting lawsuits complaining of a hostile work environment for women, minorities, older workers, and workers with disabilities. Many of these complaints paint strikingly similar portraits of a freewheeling office culture where women were subjected to far worse than the occasional off-color remark from the CEO, and where those who raised concerns about workplace behavior were targeted for termination.

In total, nearly 40 employment lawsuits from 65 plaintiffs have been lodged against Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg personally in state and federal courts since 1996, the majority of which deal with discrimination over gender, race, and disability status, as well as pregnancy discrimination and wage theft. They include accusations of sexual assault, rampant drug use, the use of Bloomberg LP's internal communications tools to rate women's looks, repeated retaliation for raising complaints about sexual harassment, suggestions that female sales staff should use sex to keep clients happy, and a rumor of a senior executive impregnating a subordinate. Litigants have also accused the company of intimidating witnesses and threatening victims. Several cases accused Bloomberg of personally fostering an atmosphere where senior male colleagues were empowered to abuse women.

And unlike Michael Bloomberg's inclination for sexist commentary, the hostile workplace allegations cannot be dismissed as a relic of the distant past: The company has faced eight discrimination suits since the former mayor regained his perch as president and CEO in 2014. Five are ongoing, and they are likely to dog Bloomberg as he pursues the Democratic nomination over the next year. The most recent, which alleges that the company fired an employee on the sales team while she was undergoing cancer treatment, was filed on October 31.

Lawyers contacted by Business Insider said they were aware of other, previously unreported complainants, and that they expected more suits to be filed.

Loeser, Bloomberg's campaign spokesman, declined to comment for this story, referring questions to Bloomberg LP.

A Bloomberg LP spokesman declined to comment on the two-decade record of allegations against Michael Bloomberg and Bloomberg LP, and referred a reporter to Michael Bloomberg's philanthropic support for women's causes and to the company's "Advancing Women" webpage, where he is quoted: "We are dedicated to empowering the women working at Bloomberg across every level and every function. Through our professional development programs, industry-leading initiatives and inclusive policies and benefits, we are advancing gender equality both at Bloomberg and beyond."

The recent crop of allegations are remarkably consistent with descriptions of Bloomberg LP in the '90s. In 1995, a lawyer suing the company for harassment wrote in a filing, "The impression is that the girls are there for [Michael] Bloomberg and his managers to play with. But most of the girls don't like it. It was a totally sexualized, predatory atmosphere that made women feel a loss of self-esteem and depression."

More than 20 years later, after Bloomberg had left the company for three terms as mayor and returned to take the helm again, another lawyer wrote: "Bloomberg [LP]'s hostile work environment bred a reckless playground to target young, female, naive employees aspiring to have a career at Bloomberg for sex."

Do you have a tip about working at Bloomberg LP, or about Michael Bloomberg? Email us at tips@businessinsider.com or reach our tips line at 646-768-4744. We're on Signal and WhatsApp.

'The Bloomberg culture is completely derived from Mike'

Michael Bloomberg founded Innovative Market Systems in 1981 and five years later renamed it Bloomberg LP. Since then, nearly every major product the company has created or acquired has carried its founder's name, including Bloomberg News, Bloomberg Television, Bloomberg Businessweek, and its flagship offering, the Bloomberg Terminal.

But the relationship between Bloomberg the man and Bloomberg the company runs deeper than branding. Because Bloomberg LP is not publicly traded, its founder and chief executive exercises extensive control over its operations, including its news stories and editorial policies. Bloomberg LP reporters are often forbidden from writing about Michael Bloomberg; in a recent newsroom memo, top editor John Micklethwait acknowledged that the editorial board of Bloomberg LP's opinion division reflected the views of the company's founder.

Indeed, Bloomberg as a company boasts of how singularly Michael Bloomberg's personality has shaped the firm.

"At Bloomberg, we're proud of our company culture: a fast-paced, transparent environment that challenges and empowers our employees to find smart solutions to complex problems," reads the company's website. "In the words of Bloomberg's Head of Human Resources Ken Cooper, who's known Mike Bloomberg for more than 30 years, the company's defining culture is intrinsic to who Mike is … . The Bloomberg culture is completely derived from Mike."

Despite the prominence of his role, Michael Bloomberg has largely evaded scrutiny over his company's atmosphere — Business Insider identified several suits that have never been reported, and those that have been reported never rose to the level of major campaign issues during his time in New York City politics — and waved off allegations of misconduct as "extortion" attempts from lying women.

"Mike Bloomberg has an attitude of disdain for [this] proceeding," wrote one attorney who represented a former Bloomberg executive in a filing with the New York Division of Human Rights in the '90s. "Apparently he takes the filing 'as a joke' and that he is 'laughing' at it and thinks he is 'untouchable' and can continue to 'behave any way he likes.'"

That attorney, Bonnie Josephs, told Business Insider in an interview that her investigation found an atmosphere of sexual harassment at Bloomberg LP. At the time, her client described it as "demeaning and hostile."

"I think it's important for anybody running for public office to have their entire life's work known and how they conducted themselves," Josephs said. "The public needs to know who they are being asked to vote for."

In 2016, a 26-year-old Bloomberg LP staffer alleged that she was 'drugged, raped, and tormented' by her boss

The most recent woman to allege in court that she was raped by her boss while employed at Bloomberg LP is identified in filings as "Margaret Doe." According to a complaint she filed in New York's Bronx County Supreme Court in 2016, she worked at Bloomberg from 2012 to 2015. She was 22 when she was hired, on the recommendation of a senior employee who was a friend of her father. She alleged that her direct supervisor, Nicholas Ferris, sexually assaulted her and provided her opiates while she worked selling newsletter subscriptions in the marketing department. The case is ongoing.

The allegations are harrowing. Doe's 54-page complaint details many months of harassment from Ferris, who the complaint says "drugged, raped, and tormented" her. The complaint alleges that Ferris raped Doe on two separate occasions while she was incapacitated, showed up to Doe's mother's 50th birthday party, and sent Doe links to videos he made, including one that shows "a Lego man and Barbie doll doing drugs and engaging in sexual acts on a bed."

Both Bloomberg LP and Ferris have denied Doe's allegations in court documents. Doe's lawyer, Donna Clancy, declined to comment for the record.

Ferris' attorney did not respond to several requests for comment.

"We terminated Ferris in early November 2015," a Bloomberg spokesman said, "well before any complaints were made against him. We discovered inappropriate conduct through our own compliance tools, investigated it thoroughly, and acted appropriately. We feel our systems for uncovering inappropriate behavior in our workplace worked as they should."

Doe claimed that her three years at Bloomberg LP transformed her from an eager-to-please recent college graduate into an anxious and depressed employee who became dependent on Ferris for pills, which, Doe said, he hid around the office like Easter eggs for her to find. Doe left the company on a prolonged medical leave in October 2015. Ferris was terminated two months later, according to the complaint. According to a source familiar with the case, Bloomberg LP terminated Doe roughly two years later, after her medical-leave benefits expired.

In addition to Ferris' conduct, Doe's complaint describes a work environment where male employees used the internal Bloomberg chat system, known as Instant Bloomberg, or IB, to rate the attractiveness of female colleagues on a numeric scale. They would also gather at "the Link," a highly trafficked office thruway in the Bloomberg headquarters, to "gawk" at women, the complaint claims.

A Bloomberg spokesman said of the IB chat allegation, "If we found an employee doing that, the employee involved would be disciplined and likely fired."

Though Doe didn't accuse Michael Bloomberg of any direct impropriety, she named him personally as a defendant, alleging that he created and encouraged the workplace environment with "sexist and sexually charged behavior."

In October, a judge dismissed the claims against Michael Bloomberg. Doe has appealed that ruling. Doe's legal team will seek to depose Michael Bloomberg whether he is reinstated as a defendant or not, a source familiar with the case told Business Insider.

Ferris' conduct is at the heart of another complaint, filed in New York state court against Bloomberg personally as well as Bloomberg LP, in August 2018 by Johnna Ayres, who replaced Ferris as global business director of the newsletter division. Ayers, who is also being represented by Clancy, described Bloomberg LP as a "sexually charged, uninhibited professional and social environment." Her complaint says she was terminated after she discovered that Ferris had spent more than $40,000 of company money on meals and trips for him and his female direct reports.

She tried to push him away and screamed 'Get off!' but he didn't stop, she said

Twenty years before Doe's ordeal, another young woman alleged that she went through a remarkably similar trauma at Bloomberg LP, according to court records. Mary Ann Olszewski was 25 years old when she was hired as a sales rep in the New York office in 1993. Almost immediately, according to court records, she encountered what she described as a "hostile environment of persistent sexual harassment." Her male superiors passed around blow-up sex dolls as jokes, asked her if she wore thong underwear, and made crude references to sex. Michael Bloomberg himself, she claimed, set the tone and "engaged in a pattern and practice of … sexual degradation of women."

He regularly made sexual comments about female underlings, she said, saying things such as "I'd like to do that piece of meat" or "Look at that nice piece of ass."

When one female coworker told Michael Bloomberg that she had become engaged, Olszewski said, he replied, "Is he that big that you need him every day?" In a deposition obtained by Business Insider, Olszewski said she frequently caught him leering at her: "I would say at least twenty times. Reaching up for things and feeling someone looking at me, turning and seeing Mike Bloomberg directly looking at my skirt going up and giving me a little look, like a sexual look." In his own deposition, Michael Bloomberg denied leering at Olszewski.

After two months on the job, Olszewski went on a business trip to Chicago with colleagues. There, at an afterwork group dinner, she met Bryan Lewis, then an application specialist at Bloomberg LP. According to Olszewski's 1997 deposition, Lewis joked about who in their party was going to "get it" first that night, pressured Olszewski to drink, and insisted that she come back to his hotel room at the end of the evening.

"It was like a pressure-filled situation," she said in the deposition. "I was like, well, he is a manager or whatever, so I said, 'I guess so.'"

At the hotel, Olszewski said, Lewis told her it was too late for her to find a cab back to her hotel and that she should sleep there. As she lay down on the hotel bed in her clothes and tried to sleep, she said, Lewis climbed on top of her and raped her. She tried to push him away and screamed "Get off!" but he didn't stop, she said.

After the assault, she said, she felt "paralyzed." She told no one at Bloomberg. Three months later, Lewis was promoted to become Olszewski's direct manager. He repeatedly inquired about her personal life, she said, showing her brochures for sex toys and encouraging her to try them, and messaging her pager with the phone number of a sex shop. She also said he kept important sales accounts away from her because of her "refusal to succumb to Lewis' sexual advances and her objections and complaints about his sexually harassing behavior."

In May 1995, Olszewski said, she told Lewis' boss about the assault and demanded that she be reassigned to another manager. She was fired in August of that year. Bloomberg and Lewis denied the claims in her lawsuit. Lewis said in a deposition that his and Olszewski's sexual liaison was consensual and that he never harassed or targeted her, and they were granted summary judgment on default after Olszewski's attorney failed to meet a filing deadline. Olszewski appealed the dismissal until 2001, when the case was closed because of a lack of activity from Olszewski four months before Bloomberg formally announced his candidacy for mayor of New York.

Olszewski did not respond to repeated requests for comment and has never publicly addressed the case since filing it. The court record does not indicate that the case was settled, and no one involved has said that Olszewski received a settlement payment. But six days after the case was closed, she moved into a luxury condominium in Miami, according to the Village Voice's Wayne Barrett, who was the first to report the details of her case.

"I did not settle and am unaware of any settlement associated with this case," Lewis said in a statement through a spokeswoman for Intellicheck, a technology firm where he is now the CEO. "There was no truth to these allegations as was evidenced by the fact that the case was dismissed with prejudice in 2001."

'All you need is some black who doesn't even have to speak English to rescue it from a burning building!' Bloomberg allegedly told an employee who had trouble finding childcare.

Although the allegations in Olszewski's suit are shocking, it was a complaint in federal court in New York filed by former executive Sekiko Sakai Garrison that caused Bloomberg LP the biggest headache in the '90s. Garrison joined Bloomberg as a sales executive in 1989. In 1997, she sued Michael Bloomberg and Bloomberg LP over gender discrimination, alleging that after she informed Michael Bloomberg that she was pregnant, he told her to "kill it" and complained about the number of pregnant women in the office.

"Plaintiff was terminated by defendants because she was a pregnant Japanese woman who had previously complained, and otherwise expressed disgust and outrage, regarding the hostile and discriminatory work environment at Bloomberg LP," her complaint read. "Michael Bloomberg and his executives subjected plaintiff and other female employees to repeated and unwelcome sexual comments, repeated and unwelcome sexual overtures, and repeated and unwelcome overt sexual gestures, including unauthorized touching and inappropriate acts."

Michael Bloomberg and several other male executives, Garrison said, personally encouraged women in sales to wear sexually provocative clothing, which they said would help them move up the company's ranks. Those who were considered less attractive or were married were ridiculed, while new mothers or recently married women were denied business opportunities and received pay cuts and inferior bonuses compared to their male counterparts, she said.

It was Garrison's case — which began in the New York Division of Human Rights before moving to federal court — that provided the laundry list of allegations of wildly sexist comments that have plagued Michael Bloomberg for years. Among the statements that Garrison and others allege that Michael Bloomberg made, according to court records and New York Division of Human Rights filings:

  • In October 1989, to a newly hired female salesperson following a meeting: "If [the clients] told you to lay down and strip naked so they could fuck you, would you do that, too?"
  • In 1990, to Garrison: "If only you had legs and an ass like Cybill Shepherd."
  • In June 1991, after seeing Garrison speaking with a TV news anchor at an event in Central Park: "You just want to fuck him."
  • In 1993, to Garrison while pointing to a newly hired older female employee and an overweight male salesperson: "If you had to, would you rather do that or that?"
  • In 1993, to Garrison: "You still dating your boyfriend? You giving him good blow jobs?"
  • In 1993, after learning that a female salesperson who recently had a baby was having difficulty finding a nanny: "It's a fucking baby! All it does is eat and shit! It doesn't know the difference between you and anyone else! All you need is some black who doesn't even have to speak English to rescue it from a burning building!"
  • The same coworker said that when her childcare issues persisted, Bloomberg erupted again: "He was spitting vehemently … He insulted me, accused me of never wanting to work in the first place, and 'all you rich kids,' etc etc. He said, 'I should have known it was coming, I should be happy to get rid of you. Once you leave you can never step foot in here. I never want to see your face again."
  • In 1994, after seeing Garrison's engagement ring: "What, is this guy dumb and blind? What the hell is he marrying you for?"
  • A week later, to Garrison: "Still engaged? What, is he that good in bed, or did your father pay him off to get rid of you?"
  • In the spring of 1994, to a male employee while staring at that employee's girlfriend, who also worked at Bloomberg LP: "That is one great piece of ass. You must be a great fuck."
  • In the summer of 1994, after clients in Mexico were having issues receiving service due to poor telephone-line connections: "I don't give a shit about those Mexican jumping beans. They are all hung up about the Alamo anyway."
  • In 1994, to Garrison: "Don't like that dress. Your ass looks huge in it."
  • In 1994, to Garrison after noticing her return from lunch with a Tiffany shopping bag: "You are a real Jap!"
  • In 1994, before the company Christmas party, after directing Garrison's attention to a younger female employee who had just changed into a cocktail dress: "If you looked like that … I would do you in a second."
  • At a company sales conference in Toronto in September 1996: "I would like nothing more in life than to have Sharon Stone sit on my face."

As one of Garrison's former coworkers put it in a witness statement, "Mike Bloomberg has a big ego. He is charismatic and flirtatious. He swaggers. He is cocky. He has a mouth and exercises little restraint. He can lose his temper and say anything."

For Garrison, the "Kill it!" remark in April 1995 was the final straw. According to court records, she interpreted her boss' words as a command to terminate the pregnancy if she wanted to keep her job. When she told her managers about the incident, she alleged, they told her to ignore the comments, forget it ever happened, and not to complain. She was told, she said, that if she did speak out, she would be terminated.

She was fired a month later. In 2000 the case was settled for undisclosed terms.

At the time, Bloomberg LP denied all of Garrison's claims, saying they were "completely without merit and should be dismissed." Michael Bloomberg claimed that he took and passed a lie-detector test, proving that Garrison's accusations about him were false, though the results were never released. According to The New York Times, the test was administered by Paul K. Minor, a former chief polygraph examiner for the FBI. Minor also administered lie-detector tests to former LAPD detective Mark Furhman over allegations that he tampered with evidence in the O.J. Simpson case and Woody Allen over allegations of child sexual abuse. As with Michael Bloomberg, both men said they passed.

Multiple Bloomberg LP employees said Michael Bloomberg was aware that one senior executive preyed on young women, and did nothing

In the more than 20 years' worth of legal records reviewed by Business Insider, a repeated accusation from former employees is that Michael Bloomberg's public attitudes toward women directly set the tone for a sexualized environment.

"There were years of comments of a sexual nature at Bloomberg," read notes from a witness interview with former Bloomberg LP employee Jim Feingold that Bonnie Josephs, Garrison's attorney, filed with the New York Division of Human Rights. "In his opinion, Mike Bloomberg started and encouraged it."

One senior employee who thrived at Bloomberg LP was Lou Eccleston, who reported directly to Michael Bloomberg in various management roles, including CEO of Bloomberg Tradebook. Eccleston was not named as a defendant in any lawsuits by Bloomberg LP employees, but multiple employees accused him in court records and New York Division of Human Rights filings of preying on women with impunity at Bloomberg LP, with Mike Bloomberg's full knowledge.

"The sexualized attitude comes from the top: Mike Bloomberg and Lou Eccleston," read the notes of Josephs' interview with Olszewski filed with the New York Division of Human Rights. "We saw Lou drink and proposition girls to come up to his room."

According to several witness statements, Eccleston openly flirted with female employees, inappropriately touched them at the office and social gatherings, excessively drank at work events, and engaged in sexual relationships with coworkers. According to one witness statement filed with the New York Division of Human Rights: "Lou Eccleston is the biggest sleaze in the world. There are two ways to get ahead with Eccleston: Kiss his ass, kiss his penis."

The employee contended that Michael Bloomberg was well aware of the allegations against Eccleston: "Mike Bloomberg knew all about what Lou was doing. If five girls want to sleep with Lou, that was O.K."

Multiple records, including a sworn statement from former Bloomberg LP employee Rowland Hunt, described an office Christmas party in 1990 at which Eccleston did "body shots" with several female employees under his authority. "'Body shots' consist of embracing and licking salt off the neck, kissing, squeezing, leg up," read Hunt's statement. "It was a ribald scene." The statement went on to describe a "rumor that Lou Eccleston had slept with one of the female employees who got pregnant."

Eccleston's behavior bothered Hunt so much that, according to his statement, he confronted Michael Bloomberg directly. "After the Christmas party experience, I lost respect for management and I was not happy at work. I met with Mike Bloomberg in February 1991 and told him I didn't see eye-to-eye with Lou Eccleston," Hunt's statement said. "Mike insisted I take my concerns directly to Lou. In March, Lou called me to talk in Mike Bloomberg's office. I told him that I had lost respect for him as a professional and as a boss. Lou's response was, 'You're fired.'"

Hunt could not be reached for comment.

Eccleston stayed on at Bloomberg LP in senior roles for more than a decade after he fired Hunt. He rose to managing director and left in 2002. He is now the CEO of TMX Group, a Canadian financial-services firm.

Business Insider contacted TMX Group seeking comment from Eccleston. A TMX Group spokesperson replied, "While TMX Group has no comment on these specific allegations at this time, we take allegations of this nature seriously and the TMX Group board is looking into this matter."

One female Bloomberg LP employee says she was called a 'Guyanese bitch' by her boss. Another says her boss told her, 'I want to eat your pussy.'

The Doe and Olszewski cases are the two most lurid and disturbing accusations of misconduct and mismanagement that have been directed at Bloomberg LP, but they bookend a steady stream of claims over the past two decades describing harassment, intimidation, and discrimination at all levels of the company both during Michael Bloomberg's tenures as president and CEO, and during his three terms as mayor of New York.

"Large companies are always going to have personnel matters," said Paula Brantner, president and principal of PB Work Solutions, a consulting firm focused on sexual harassment and toxic-workplace prevention. "But seeing that many lawsuits does raise some concern."

Brantner said common allegations across multiple different complaints in particular are indicators of possible cultural problems at a workplace and that leadership is crucial to preventing situations where employees feel license to abuse their power.

"It's really important for the head of the company to make a strong statement and set the tone for everyone else," she said. "When that doesn't happen, the toxic culture can take hold and thrive. What we've seen in some of these other situations is that there is a pattern of conduct, it's condoned at the top level, and it's seen that the way to get rid of it is to settle cases and require non-disclosure agreements."

"I believe that there is a culture at the Bloomberg NYC location that is not adequately addressing discrimination and employee complaints," said Kara Miller, a lawyer representing former Bloomberg employee Andreea Orent, who sued the company in August 2017 alleging discrimination and unlawful retaliation over disability. "That's causing more lawsuits than another company might face, which might have more procedures."

Miller said she's aware of other "actions" and "allegations of discrimination" at the company, though declined to go into detail, citing confidentiality.

Bloomberg currently has more than 20,000 employees, and few companies of that scale have avoided discrimination complaints. Thomson Reuters, for instance, a Bloomberg competitor of similar size, has received 26 employment-discrimination complaints in state and federal courts since 1996 compared to Bloomberg LP's 37, according to a Business Insider review.

Among the more recent allegations against Bloomberg are those of Rachel Itwaru, an experienced sales rep who joined the firm in 2006 at an annual salary of $120,000. According to a complaint she filed in federal court in New York in 2011, Itwaru was subjected to "hostile and sexually aggressive" comments from her team members, including comments about what she looked like naked and a manager who told her she should use her looks to her advantage during client meetings and to perform sexual favors for clients.

When she complained about her colleagues' behavior, her complaint alleges, she was retaliated against and called a "Guyanese bitch" by her boss. In September 2008, Itwaru was abruptly fired and forced out of the building before she could clean out her desk.

Business Insider located Itwaru, who now appears to go by a different first and last name, through a public-records search. Neither she nor her attorney at the time, Abdul Karim Hassan, responded to requests for comment about the case, which was settled for undisclosed terms in 2012. Bloomberg LP denied all the complaint's allegations, according to court records.

Elizabeth Lisser, who joined Bloomberg LP in 2001 as a clerk in the accounts-payable department, made similar allegations in a complaint filed in federal court in New York in 2016.

According to that complaint, Lisser's manager, Brian Schuler, repeatedly made sexual comments to Lisser about her figure, weight, and appearance, massaged her shoulders, looked down her blouse, and texted her about other female coworkers, remarking on the appearance of their breasts or who they were sleeping with.

After she complained about Schuler's behavior to human resources, Lisser's complaint says, her boss told her "she was going down." Later, after Lisser asked to go home because she felt physically ill from his remarks, Schuler told her: "If you think that little slap on the wrist that I got from [HR] was going to make this go away, you only dug your grave deeper." Soon after, Lisser was forced to hand in her resignation, according to the complaint. The case was voluntarily dismissed in 2017. The court record does not reflect whether it was settled.

Lisser's attorney, Michael Chinitz, did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails from Business Insider seeking comment. Reached by phone, Lisser briefly began to describe working for Bloomberg before a male voice heard in the background began shouting "No comment!" and she hung up.

Schuler, now a senior manager at the technology company Sedgwick, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. In court filings, Bloomberg LP and Schuler denied all allegations in the complaint.

In 2004, a network-security technician named Shimba Jones sued Bloomberg LP for what she described as "a pattern and practice of unwelcome, humiliating, egregious, and reprehensible sexual harassment." Jones alleged that her supervisor had repeatedly rubbed his body against her own, targeted her with sexually degrading comments — including "I want to eat your pussy" and "I think about you when I get horny" — and retaliated against her when she refused to have sex with him. She also accused Bloomberg LP of failing to protect her and sabotaging her career after she complained about him.

After she filed her complaint, the company terminated Jones, saying that she worked on a freelance business during work hours, and it countersued her over breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. Jones later amended her complaint to accuse Bloomberg LP of further retaliation.

Bloomberg LP denied Jones' claims in court records.

Depositions given by several Bloomberg employees, including a colleague of Jones who said he directly witnessed Jones' supervisor harassing "once or twice a week," corroborated her claims, according to court records reviewed by Business Insider. In one deposition, the Bloomberg LP human-resources staffer who informed Jones of her termination couldn't recall basic details about her own role, and repeated some version of "I don't know" nearly 300 times.

Jones and Bloomberg LP settled before the case went to trial. The terms of the settlement are unknown. Jones did not respond to a request for comment.

Bloomberg could also face liability for the conduct of one of the most high-profile alleged abusers in the #MeToo era: Charlie Rose.

Although Rose was not a Bloomberg LP employee, he filmed his interview show in a studio at the company's Manhattan headquarters. And, crucially, his staff of 15 to 20 producers — many of whom Rose was accused of groping, pawing, verbally abusing, and sexually assaulting over the course of years — were on Bloomberg LP's payroll and received their benefits through the company. The arrangement, which, according to company lore, was cemented over a handshake between Rose and Michael Bloomberg at a Manhattan social event in the '90s — was highly informal, according to former Charlie Rose employees who spoke with Business Insider, and offered Rose the opportunity to abuse members of his staff with little supervision.

In September, Rose's long-time make-up artist, Gina Riggi, sued Rose, his production company, and Bloomberg LP over sexual discrimination and harassment. Riggi claimed that, since Rose's staff was paid by Bloomberg LP, was issued Bloomberg company IDs, Bloomberg email addresses, and Bloomberg company benefits, she and her supervisors were Bloomberg LP employees. The company "knew or should have known of the unlawful discrimination, but failed to address it and instead … aided and abetted it," Riggi alleged. Her case is ongoing.

According to two former Charlie Rose employees, when the show trimmed staff during the 2008 financial crisis, Bloomberg human-resources staffers attended a meeting announcing the terminations and administered the layoff process.

When the accusations against Rose first surfaced, Bloomberg expressed skepticism, telling The New York Times: "You know, is it true? You look at people that say it is, but we have a system where you have — presumption of innocence is the basis of it." He added that Bloomberg LP had "never had a complaint, whatsoever," about Rose and that the company "checked very carefully" after the allegations emerged, suggesting that it had an employment relationship with Rose's staff.

In court filings, Bloomberg LP denied Riggi's allegations. A Bloomberg spokesperson told Business Insider that Rose's staff "were employees of Charlie Rose Inc., not Bloomberg LP."

Riggi's attorney, Patrick Walsh, declined to comment for the record.

The most high-profile case against Bloomberg LP came while its namesake was on leave to serve as New York City's mayor. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a gender-discrimination suit in federal court in New York in 2007 on behalf of 29 women who alleged pregnancy discrimination. The case was litigated for six years before being dismissed by a federal judge, who ruled that the EEOC failed to assemble sufficient evidence of discrimination, or give the company a sufficient opportunity to remedy the claims before it filed suit. "'J'accuse!' is not enough in court," the judge wrote. "Evidence is required."

Michael Bloomberg was deposed in that case, but the deposition was never made public.

'Witness thinks Bloomberg is vindictive, and fears retaliation'

Court records and attorney's files from Bloomberg LP's long history of defending sexual-harassment allegations show that the company — and the man — often dismissed employee complaints as baseless and sought to attack and intimidate accusers.

During a deposition taken by Olszewski's attorney in 1998 — first reported by the Village Voice in 2001 — Michael Bloomberg described Garrison's and Olszewski's claims as "extortion," to which he refused to capitulate.

"I have always been against the kind of extortion that the press says most companies jump to when somebody falsely alleges inappropriate behavior," he said, according to a copy of the deposition obtained by Business Insider.

"To the extent that Olszewski alleges a hostile working environment by co-workers who create a sexually degrading environment for women, do you consider that extortion?" Olszewski's lawyer asked.

"Yes, I do," Bloomberg replied.

A statement that the company issued to a reporter at the time about Garrison and Olszewski echoed the boss' sentiment: "We question the motives of these two claimants."

In the same deposition, Michael Bloomberg suggested that he didn't believe rape allegations that lacked eyewitness corroboration.

Asked what he would regard as "proof" of Olszewski's claim, Bloomberg responded, "I guess an unimpeachable third-party witness."

"Do you think that's possible in most instances of date rape?" the attorney asked.

"I don't know whether this was date rape," Bloomberg replied.

"Well, describe for me how there could be a third-party witness to confirm or deny the truthfulness of her allegation," the attorney replied.

"There are times when three people are together," Bloomberg said.

He also said in the deposition that he doubted Olszewski's allegation because she waited two years before coming forward. When Olszewski's attorney asked if he was aware that most victims of sexual assault never come forward, Bloomberg replied: "If they don't report it, how would I know?"

Case documents obtained by Business Insider contain multiple allegations that Bloomberg LP's team took active measures to discredit and intimidate plaintiffs and potential witnesses.

"All women who have complained to me are afraid of retaliation," Garrison said in a statement filed with the New York Division of Human Rights. "In fact, people who complain to protect their personal rights or professional status at the company are labeled by Eccleston as 'troublemakers' and are subject to financial or territorial retribution. People who are negatively 'marked' by Eccleston have their salaries reduced, sales territory reduced, or are made to feel so uncomfortable they leave the firm."

Other witness statements gathered by Garrison's attorney, Bonnie Josephs, and filed with the New York Division of Human Rights describe their fear of retaliation from the company, and efforts by Bloomberg LP attorneys to spread negative rumors about accusers.

One anonymous witness told Josephs that "management asked him to say bad things that were not true" about Olszewski. "He thought Bloomberg management was trying to make up a bad reputation about Mary Ann to offset her claims against Brian Lewis [sic] for rape," the filing says. "He was also approached by Bloomberg [LP]'s lawyers to say bad things about Mary Ann. He refused because there were no bad things to say."

In another filing, Josephs alleged that "Bloomberg [LP] is trying to make people say that Mary Ann was a 'slut'."

In a 1995 memo that Garrison wrote to Josephs, she alleged that "there are threats and high levels of intimidation that are terrifying people and keeping them quiet." Garrison recounted a conversation with a former Bloomberg coworker who told her that "she was terrified to say anything" to corroborate Garrison's claims because "she believed that Bloomberg will somehow find out and that she will lose her job." Another former coworker told Garrison that a rumor was circulating at the firm that Bloomberg had filed a slander lawsuit against Garrison and that he intended to "wipe [her] out financially." When Garrison said that wasn't true, the coworker replied, "I guess they want to intimidate people into not saying anything and to discourage anyone else from suing him."

Multiple witnesses reached by Josephs and Garrison, according to contemporaneous interview notes obtained by Business Insider, expressed fear of retaliation from Michael Bloomberg.

"Witness thinks Bloomberg is vindictive, and fears retaliation if he speaks openly," read Josephs' notes from one witness interview filed with the New York Division of Human Rights.

Another witness interviewed by Josephs who no longer worked at the company said that Michael Bloomberg "hit on her once" but that she was "afraid Bloomberg will use his power with her present employer to retaliate if she comes forward," according to Josephs' notes.

Another former employee, who told Josephs that Bloomberg would frequently ask her, "Are you going to get laid tonight?", said she believed that she had a case but feared that Bloomberg's power extended to the judicial system.

"The witness is aware that she has sexual harassment claims against Bloomberg," Josephs wrote in a witness statement filed with the New York Division of Human Rights, "but she fears retaliation. She worries that Bloomberg can get to the trier of fact, or to her current employer."

Despite Michael Bloomberg's remarks about standing up to "extortion," many of the cases that have been filed against him appear to have been settled, a process that often involves the use of non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs, and non-disparagement clauses to keep the parties from publicly saying what happened to them. While NDAs are common in legal disputes, their use by Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly, R. Kelly, and Donald Trump has been cited as a factor in the impunity with which many men abused and harassed female coworkers before the #MeToo movement.

Business Insider asked Bloomberg LP and a campaign spokesperson for Michael Bloomberg whether, in light of his presidential run, the company and the candidate will release women with whom they have entered into NDAs — involving both public litigation or private claims — from their obligations to remain silent. A Bloomberg LP spokesperson declined to answer.

"I think everybody needs to know whether Bloomberg paid any money and how much so as not to reveal [allegations of harassment]," Josephs said. "Because that means he's not taking public responsibility for the acts."

'I always have a dream that one day I will be up on the witness stand, testifying against Mike Bloomberg'

In contrast to the negative allegations about Michael Bloomberg in lawsuits and witness statements filed with the New York Division of Human Rights, there are multiple references in the court file to his support for women in the workplace, including his belief that women are better salespeople than men. And as The New York Times recently reported, he has a long record of appointing women to powerful positions:

"He elevated women to leading roles at City Hall, including Janette Sadik-Khan to transportation commissioner; Amanda Burden to city planning commissioner; and his longtime top adviser, Patricia E. Harris, to first deputy mayor, the first woman to serve in that role. As New York's mayor and in the years since — he left office in 2013 — Mr. Bloomberg has donated tens of millions of dollars to support reproductive rights and women's health causes around the world, his aides said."

At Bloomberg LP there are women in senior leadership. Although the succession plan he announced in 2016 will leave the reins to two men — Tom Secunda and Peter Grauer — when steps down, the company's "Advancing Women at Bloomberg" website says that the chief media officer, manager of fixed-income risk, and regulatory engineering, head of content for Tic Toc by Bloomberg, and director of the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa are all women.

The company's chief financial officer, Patti Roskill, and chief administrative officer, Beth Mazzeo, are also women. Roskill sits on the management committee.

And like Harris, some female Bloomberg employees have managed to rise through the ranks. Leslie van Orsdel, for instance, was a colleague of Mary Ann Olszewski in the mid-'90s. In Olszewski's deposition, she recalled confiding in Van Orsdel, saying, "I can't stand our environment."

"That's the way it is right now, the environment at Bloomberg," Van Orsdel replied, according to Olszewski.

"This is like sexual harassment," Olszewski said.

"I know," Van Orsdel replied, according to Olszewski's deposition. "I always have a dream that one day I will be up on the witness stand, testifying against Mike Bloomberg."

According to her LinkedIn profile, Van Orsdel is now Bloomberg's global head of client-risk engagement and risk assurance. Reached for comment, she said, "I can't imagine ever saying that. Mike has always been an amazing, inspiring person to work for, and the work environment at Bloomberg has only helped me thrive and succeed."

John Cook and David Rauf contributed reporting.

This article is based on nearly 40 lawsuits filed against Bloomberg LP

 

SEE ALSO: Business Insider investigation: Jeffrey Epstein ordered 3 couples in his entourage to get married

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Extremists turned a frog meme into a hate symbol, but Hong Kong protesters revived it as an emblem of hope



About Value News Network

Value is the only commonality in an increasingly complex, challenging and interdependent world.
Laurance Allen: Editor + Publisher

Connect with Us