(Corrects company name in 38th paragraph to Interactive Data
* Brash ex-Bloomberg exec jolts Dow Jones as new CEO
* Fenwick vows to sharpen focus on newswire, customers
* DJ profits key as News Corp splits publishing from
By Jennifer Saba
NEW YORK, Oct 7 He's tearing down walls. He's
tossing out old business models. And he's dressing down people,
publicly and profanely, in the once-buttoned-down halls of Dow
Jones & Co., publisher of the august Wall Street Journal.
Lex Fenwick (pronounced FEN-nick), a long-time Bloomberg LP
executive, is making his mark on Dow Jones, the News Corp
subsidiary where he became chief executive officer
earlier this year.
Fenwick quickly dismantled the offices in the executive
suite, emulating the open-floor plan of his previous employer.
He works from a desk in a corner of the seventh floor of News
Corp's headquarters in midtown Manhattan, and his conversations
- often expletive-laced - can be widely heard.
"This is not what I wanted! Are you a f---ing idiot?" one
employee heard Fenwick screaming at a colleague not long ago.
Others inside the company say they have often heard Fenwick
yelling profanities and shouting at underlings.
Fenwick has been called a master salesman and business
builder whose hard-charging style often runs roughshod over
colleagues and subordinates. His makeover of Dow Jones comes at
a crucial time for Rupert Murdoch's media empire as News Corp
prepares to split off its global publishing assets from its
Murdoch needs Fenwick's shock treatment to succeed so that
Dow Jones, with about $2 billion in annual revenue, can be the
growth engine for the new publishing company, analysts said.
Most of News Corp's newspapers are grappling with
industry-wide problems of declining readership and print
advertising sales, plus the fallout from the hacking scandal at
its British publications. One bright spot is Dow Jones' Wall
Street Journal, the top U.S. newspaper by circulation, which
also boasts one of publishing's most successful digital
For Dow Jones, Fenwick's arrival in February has been more
of a jolt than when News Corp bought the company in 2007. The
executives Murdoch brought in, including seasoned newspaperman
Les Hinton as CEO, were seen as evolutionary and, mostly,
respectful of colleagues.
Former Bloomberg colleagues say Fenwick, 53, has superb
sales skills. During his seven years as chief executive at the
financial information and news company, revenue doubled to $6
But the British executive is erratic - charming and smooth
one minute but loud and belligerent the next, according to
interviews with more than 20 people who have worked with him.
Fenwick's aggressive approach helped him rise to the top of
Bloomberg, but also led to his downfall just a few years later,
said these people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Fenwick declined to be interviewed for this article and a
spokeswoman for Dow Jones declined to comment.
In his first eight months at Dow Jones, Fenwick has swept
aside several senior managers and replaced them with former
Bloomberg colleagues. He plans to raise prices for Dow Jones
Newswires and reduce discounts, a strategy that could backfire
at a time when banks are under pressure to cut costs.
Fenwick also wants to transform the way Dow Jones sells its
news and information to financial institutions by introducing a
new Web-based platform for all its products before the end of
the year, aiming to win market share from Bloomberg, Thomson
Reuters Corp and other rivals.
As part of a stand-alone publishing company, Dow Jones will
be critical. In the 2012 fiscal year ended June 30, Dow Jones
contributed $180 million in earnings before interest, tax,
depreciation and amortization - that is 30 percent of EBITDA
from News Corp's newspaper properties, estimated Gabelli & Co
analyst Brett Harriss.
"If anything is going to have lasting power it's going to be
something like Dow Jones where you have a niche audience,
specialized reporting and the willingness of consumers to pay
for the product," Harriss said.
News Corp has not said who will run the new publishing
company. Media watchers view Dow Jones
Editor-in-Chief Robert Thomson a long-time Murdoch confidante
who currently reports to Fenwick, as one of the front runners.
News Corp declined to comment.
It is unclear what role Fenwick will play in the new
structure. In an interview last July, he spoke of some
nervousness about joining Dow Jones after 25 years at Bloomberg.
"It's quite strange to only know one thing and to go to a
different thing," he said then. "With trepidation you step into
this thing and say you know this could be really scary."
A PAGE FROM BLOOMBERG
Fenwick started as one of Bloomberg's first sales employees
in London in 1987, when the company was an upstart in European
financial markets against Reuters. He eventually became head of
European sales and turned the region into one of Bloomberg's
best, at times even outperforming the United States.
He wears purple (yes, purple) suits from the Savile Row
designer Ozwald Boateng. He also favors leather pants, pork pie
hats atop his bald pate, a pierced ear and modern art.
At Bloomberg, Fenwick was fond of marketing antics and
extravagant office parties. One infamous Christmas party in
London was based on the Seven Deadly Sins. It featured drag
queens, a huge bed covered in purple satin and entertainers
waving cash and shouting "Money, ain't it gorgeous!"
"He's irascible, opinionated and can be incredibly
demanding," said TheStreet Editor-in-Chief William Inman, who
worked for 17 years at Bloomberg and used to run its publishing
unit. "He trusts his instincts and 90 percent of the time he is
Still, many colleagues were surprised when Fenwick was
promoted to chief executive in 2001 as founder Michael
Bloomberg, now mayor of New York City, stepped down to focus on
politics. The strength of the European division and Fenwick's
creativity won him the job, say people with knowledge of the
matter. Bloomberg LP declined to comment for this article.
As CEO, Fenwick ramped up what had already been put in
place: a strong brand and first-rate customer support. His desk
sat in the middle of customer service, and he ordered every new
member of the sales staff to rotate through that department.
But he also ran into legal trouble. In 2007, the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission filed a high-profile class
action lawsuit that accused Michael Bloomberg, Fenwick and other
top executives of discrimination against pregnant women.
One of the complaints alleged that Fenwick had instructed
another executive to fire two women who were pregnant and said
"I'm not having any pregnant bitches working for me." Bloomberg
LP has denied the allegation.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska last year threw out the
suit, saying there was insufficient evidence presented to show
discrimination was the company's standard operating procedure,
even if there were several isolated instances of discrimination.
Some of the women are still pursuing individual claims.
Bloomberg insiders say Fenwick used fear as a tactic to
"He would go into the office in his purple suit and stand
there like a peacock and scream at people," said one former
Bloomberg veteran. "He felt that he was keeping people off
balance constantly... so they would look at things differently."
For his part, Fenwick has talked about the tough love he
experienced from his parents. He once told a colleague that when
he turned 21, his father gave him a one-way ticket to Australia
to force the party-loving youth to learn to fend for himself.
Fenwick wanted to refund the ticket and pocket the cash, but his
father followed him to the airport to watch him board the plane.
Fenwick's take-no-prisoners attitude led him to butt heads
with other Bloomberg executives and ultimately led to his
downfall there, people with knowledge of the situation said.
By 2005, he was stripped of some major responsibilities
though he held on to the CEO title until 2008, when he was
demoted to lead Bloomberg Ventures.
REVAMPING DOW JONES
Fenwick began to explore other opportunities. His chance
came when Hinton, a long-time Murdoch lieutenant, resigned as
Dow Jones CEO in July 2011 at the height of the hacking scandal
at the British newspapers, which Hinton had once overseen. In
finding a successor, News Corp wanted to address the Newswires
business since Murdoch had primarily focused on the Wall Street
A source close to the company said Fenwick is supposed to
concentrate on the business and leave Thomson to run an
autonomous newsroom. News Corp management knew Fenwick could be
combustible, but felt he was worth the risk, the source said.
Fenwick brings new energy and drive to Dow Jones, his
supporters say. They contend that the company had become too
"The history of Dow Jones is a series of opportunities
lost," said Peter Appert, an analyst who covered the company
when it was controlled by the Bancroft family and is currently
with Piper Jaffray. "The hegemony of Dow Jones is significantly
diminished in all parts of the financial information sector."
Fenwick has told employees he has Bloomberg and Thomson
Reuters in his sights. He plans to create a Web-based platform
to house all Dow Jones content, so he can better control the
customer experience and be less dependent on third-party
distributors like Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, FactSet Research
Systems Inc and Interactive Data Corp.
He has also brought some of Bloomberg's focus on customer
service to Dow Jones. He has shortened the customer service
department's email response time to four hours from 24 hours.
The company also plans to launch in November a 24-hour,
seven-day-a-week online chat system to address customer issues.
Fenwick has rattled Dow Jones employees used to a more
In a meeting with dozens of Dow Jones sales people and
senior managers last spring, Fenwick was asked if he would seek
customer advice on his changes. "F--- the customer," Fenwick
replied, adding that he only cared about Dow Jones, according to
four people who heard, or heard about, the outburst.
And Fenwick has backpedaled over some decisions.
After a presentation about Factiva, a news database that
draws upon roughly 35,000 sources, Fenwick was surprised to
learn that a default search ranked stories by relevance and did
not give prominence to Dow Jones content. He pressed for changes
to make Dow Jones articles pop up first, but had to undo them
after customers reacted badly.
Some Dow Jones employees have reached out to Murdoch and
News Corp President Chase Carey to complain about Fenwick, said
another source. It is not clear how Murdoch and his lieutenants
viewed the complaints.
At least a dozen high-level executives at Dow Jones have
left since Fenwick joined. Many others are discreetly looking
for new jobs. Some insiders fear layoffs are in store, partly
because Fenwick is expected to consolidate journalists from Dow
Jones Newswires into one newsroom under the Wall Street Journal
Several Dow Jones clients said they were impressed with the
new CEO. One senior banker said Fenwick was smart and direct,
adding, "He is what they need over there." Other clients said
they were concerned about his plans to raise prices, which could
affect decisions to renew contracts.
Ultimately, Fenwick's ability to boost Dow Jones's bottom
line will determine his success or failure. "I would love to
tell you we are making so much money here that we could lose a
few million," Fenwick said in the July interview with Reuters.
"I can't really say that. We need every dollar."
(Additional reporting by Miranda Maxwell in Melbourne; Editing
by Tiffany Wu and David Gregorio)