The business of covering billionaires
Libby Copeland of The Washington Post writes about how business media coverage of billionaires is big business.
Copeland writes, “The cottage industry of wealth-ranking lists turns out to be as marked by ambition, insularity and one-upmanship as the lives of the billionaires it chronicles. The biggest rivalry is between Forbes and Bloomberg. For years, Forbes released its list of the world’s billionaires annually, and then, in 2012, Bloomberg unveiled a ranking that updated every day. The new list’s creator was Matthew Miller, who’d worked on the Forbes list before leaving to co-found a financial research firm called Wealth-X (which itself does rich lists), and then joining Bloomberg. Within days, Forbes announced an effort to update the valuations of some of its billionaires every five minutes.
“Billionaire-list makers squabble over everything from methodology to transparency to exhaustiveness and even matters of national pride. As reporter Robert Frank has chronicled, Forbes and Bloomberg have battled over whether Ikea tycoon Ingvar Kamprad is worth $42 billion or less than $1 billion, depending on whether ‘special entities’ should count toward his wealth. A Shanghai-based research firm called Hurun Report has battled with Forbes and Wealth-X over whether China or the United States has more billionaires. Bloomberg has boasted about uncovering billionaires Forbes never even knew existed.
“‘We’ve uncovered 400 hidden billionaires … and that’s just in five years,’ says Rob LaFranco, the global editor of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index and another Forbes alum. Bloomberg recently expanded its daily rankings to the world’s 500 richest.”
Read more here.