David G. Bradley
David G. Bradley (born 1953) is the owner of Atlantic Media, which owns and operates several prominent media companies and services including The Atlantic, National Journal & The Hotline, Quartz, and Government Executive. Before his career as a publisher, Bradley founded the Advisory Board Company and Corporate Executive Board, two Washington-based consulting companies.
Early life and education
Bradley was born in Washington, D.C. and attended the Sidwell Friends School. His parents were devout Christian Scientists. As a youth he rode horses at Meadowbrook Stables, where he also worked as a groom, mucking out pony stalls. He graduated from Swarthmore College and briefly interned in the White House during the presidency of Richard Nixon. He received a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and was also a Fulbright Scholar in the Philippines. Bradley earned a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1983.
The Advisory Board Company
In 1979 while only 26 years old, Bradley founded the Research Counsel of Washington, later renamed The Advisory Board Company. The purpose of the company, at least initially, was to do research on any question for any industry. In 1986, the company began doing special research for the health care industry, which eventually became the main focus of the Advisory Board Company.
In 1983, his company had begun advising other firms in the financial services industry. In 1997, this part of the business was spun off as the Corporate Executive Board. Both companies became publicly traded, with the Advisory Board on NASDAQ and CEB on NYSE, and later acquired by Optum and Gartner, respectively. Bradley reportedly earned over $300 million from their sale.
In 1997, Bradley made his first acquisition as a publisher, purchasing the National Journal. He hired Michael Kelly, a well-known journalist who had just been fired from The New Republic after frequently clashing with owner Martin Peretz. Kelly was known for his controversial criticisms of Al Gore and Bill Clinton, but he got along well with Bradley.
In 1999, Bradley purchased The Atlantic from publisher and real estate tycoon Mort Zuckerman for a price of $10 million. Bradley replaced the then current editor William Whitworth with Kelly. Bradley's strategy to improve the business model of The Atlantic, which had lost money for years, was to focus on improving editorial quality. Bradley doubled the newsroom budget of The Atlantic, allowing the magazine to embark on a hiring spree, offering contracts to 25 new writers. Kelly's first hire was to bring back James Fallows, one of the magazine's best-known journalists who had been hired away in 1996.
Bradley is also known for the great lengths he'll go to in order to lure writers to The Atlantic. To lure away Jeffrey Goldberg, a staff writer for The New Yorker, Bradley brought ponies to Goldberg's house one day to show Goldberg's three young children.
After originally vowing not to move The Atlantic from its home in Boston for over a year, Bradley created a controversy in 2005 by moving the offices to Washington, where his other enterprises are all headquartered. Several prominent members of The Atlantic, such as esteemed editor Cullen Murphy, left the magazine as a result of the move.
In 2011, another team led by him had released Clare Gillis, a freelancer for The Atlantic, captured by soldiers loyal to Muammar Qaddafi. While the search was not successful, Larry Wright wrote an article about a dinner at Bradley's Washington house during which the families of the hostages talked about them. To avoid a conflict of interest, Bradley directed Wright to publish on The Atlantic's competitor, The New Yorker.
On 28 July 2017, Bradley sold his majority ownership of The Atlantic to Emerson Collective, which is an organization owned by multi-billionaire investor and philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs (the widow of former Apple Inc. chairman and CEO Steve Jobs), but with Bradley retaining a minority ownership share.
Work in the Philippines
In addition to publishing, Bradley works with the CityBridge Foundation (formerly the Advisory Board Foundation), which participates in education projects in the Philippines, where Bradley had been a Fulbright Scholar. Bradley's wife, Katherine Brittain Bradley, is the president.
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