From Michigan to MLB and Back

A new day rising for the Motor City?

Robert Bowman, WG’79, was recently appointed to the financial advisory board that will help steer Detroit’s financial decisions. Mayor David Bing and Governor Rick Snyder gave Bowman the task of helping the city reduce its $265 million deficit. Bowman is not a novice when it comes to taking on such public responsibility.

In 1983, Bowman became the nation’s youngest state treasurer. During his tenure, he helped right a troubled ship and was the chief architect of the Michigan Education Trust (MET), a program that allows parents, grandparents and others to prepurchase tuition for a public university in Michigan for children residing in the state. In 1985, Esquire called him the “Kid who Saved Michigan.”

Bowman still serves as the president of MET, which has maintained solvency despite the economic downturn. And in 2010, Bowman considered running for Michigan’s gubernatorial seat.

With such an impressive resume, many would think that Bowman has dedicated his career solely to public policy, but he has a broader vision.

When Wharton Magazine last caught up with Bowman, he discussed his role as president of Major League Baseball Advanced Media (BAM). BAM is in charge of all of MLB’s digital outreach, including mlb.com, Web broadcasts and wireless services. BAM went from a startup in 2000 with $120 million in seed funding, to earning $195 million annually in 2007, to earning $620 million annually today. If BAM were to go public, the approximated value of its IPO would be $2.5 billion.

Since 2007, the company has achieved myriad milestones. BAM created best-selling iPAD and iPhone apps and an Xbox 360 platform that users can navigate with their hands or voice. In 2011, 2.2 million people bought one of BAM’s apps or subscribed to MLB.tv, a paid site that costs up to $125 per subscription. BAM delivers video content of MLB games, pitch by pitch, to users around the world within 25 seconds of real time.

Despite his outstanding accomplishments, Bowman is still committed to making a contribution through the public sector. As Detroit’s new financial advisory board begins its work, Bowman, along with his colleagues, will have the opportunity to tackle the city’s biggest problems, impacting lives within the city limits and beyond.

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