BusinessWeek and the battle for Bloomberg's soul

When a $20 billion company buys a magazine for less than $5 million, it's almost by definition not a big deal. And even if the true cost of Bloomberg's acquisition of BusinessWeek is closer to the $70 million Sharon Waxman reports, it's still barely a speck on the financial-news giant's balance sheet.

But the significance of the purchase is much larger than the numbers would suggest -- even if Bloomberg insiders aren't sure yet exactly what that significance is. One thing they do know is it signals a victory for that faction of the management hierarchy that thinks Bloomberg needs to invest more heavily in consumer media to continue growing, even if it means sustaining heavy short-term losses in those businesses.