David G. Bradley


David G. Bradley (born 1953)[1] is partner in The Atlantic and Atlantic Media and the owner of the National Journal Group. Before his career as a publisher, Bradley founded the Advisory Board Company and Corporate Executive Board, two Washington-based consulting companies.

Early life and educationEdit

Bradley was born in Washington, D.C.,[2] and attended the Sidwell Friends School. His parents were devout Christian Scientists.[1] As a youth he rode horses at Meadowbrook Stables, where he also worked as a groom, mucking out pony stalls. David was also a Comanchero at Sky Valley Ranch for Boys in Buena Vista, Colorado. [3] 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.[2] Bradley earned a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1983.

Bradley is brother to Barbara Bradley Hagerty, former NPR Religion Correspondent and author of Fingerprints of God: In Search of the Science of Spirituality.[4]

The Advisory Board CompanyEdit

In 1979, a 26-year-old Bradley founded the Research Council 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 1983, his company had begun advising other firms in the financial services industry. In 1986, the company began doing special research for the health care industry, which eventually became the company's main focus.[5]

In 1997, the financial services and corporate practice of the Advisory Board was spun off as the Corporate Executive Board.[6]

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 more than $300 million from their sale.[1]


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 $10 million.[7] Bradley replaced 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.[1]

Bradley is also known for the great lengths he will go to in order to lure writers to The Atlantic. To hire Jeffrey Goldberg, a staff writer for The New Yorker, Bradley brought ponies to Goldberg's house to show Goldberg's three young children.[8]

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.[8] Murphy has since rejoined The Atlantic.

In 2012, Bradley launched Quartz, a business-news publication aimed at mobile-device users; he sold it in 2018 to Uzabase, a Japanese media company, for between $75 and $110 million.

In 2011, Bradley led a team of researchers and journalists looking for freelance reporter Clare Gillis who had been captured by Libyan soldiers loyal to Muammar Qaddafi.[9]  The team found Gillis in a women's prison in Tripoli and used a network of contacts to arrange her release.  When Gillis was set free, Qaddafi also released three other journalists, including American James Foley.  

Thereafter, in 2012, Foley was taken hostage again, this time in Syria.  Bradley led a second team of researchers to locate Foley and five other Americans taken hostage in Syria.  Larry Wright wrote an article[9] about a dinner at Bradley's house during which the families of five of the missing hostages met for the first time.  In the end, the team failed to gain release for four of the hostages held by ISIS.  Foley was the first American beheaded by ISIS in August 2012.  In the end, all four ISIS hostages were killed or died in custody.  One hostage, Theo Padnos, held by al Nusra, was released.  The sixth hostage, Austin Tice, still is missing in Syria.  To avoid a conflict of interest, Bradley directed Wright to publish the story in The Atlantic's competitor, The New Yorker.[10]

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).[11][12] Bradley remains chairman emeritus and a minority owner.


Politically, Bradley considers himself a centrist. He has contributed to the Democratic and Republican parties.[1] In the 2008 U.S. presidential primaries he donated to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney.[8]

Boards and philanthropyEdit

In addition to publishing, Bradley works with various educational and charitable organizations.  This work includes founding the Child Protection Network,[13] the largest system of acute care facilities for abused children in the Philippines.  The network now includes emergency centers in over 100 Philippine hospitals.  During his Fulbright Scholarship, Bradley taught economics at the University of the City of Manila (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila).

Bradley is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  His board memberships have included the Council on Foreign Relations, Georgetown University, the American University of Beirut, Swarthmore College, New America Foundation, KIPP DC, and the Biden Cancer Initiative.[14]



  1. ^ a b c d e f Scott Sherman (2002). "What makes a serious magazine soar?". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  2. ^ a b c "David Bradley bio". theatlantic.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  3. ^ "What Made Me: The Atlantic's David Bradley | Washingtonian (DC)". 21 March 2012.
  4. ^ "Barbara Bradley Hagerty". NPR. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  5. ^ a b "The Advisory Board Company history". advisoryboardcompany.com. Archived from the original on 2007-07-17. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
  6. ^ a b "Corporate Executive Board overview". executiveboard.com. Archived from the original on 2007-06-10. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
  7. ^ New York Times, April 15, 2005, "Atlantic Monthly Leaving Boston in Move to Washington", retrieved Sept 26, 2009
  8. ^ a b c d Howard Kurtz (2007-08-06). "The Atlantic's Owner Ponies Up". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  9. ^ a b Five Hostages, Lawrence Wright, July 6, 2015, The New Yorker.
  10. ^ How The New Yorker landed The Atlantic's hostage story, Dylan Byers, 24 June 2015, Politico.
  11. ^ White, Gillian B. (28 July 2017). "Emerson Collective Acquires Majority Stake in The Atlantic". The Atlantic. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  12. ^ Halper, Daniel. "Key Dem Donor Takes Over 'Country's Most Important' Journalistic Institution". date=28 July 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  13. ^ Child Protection Unit - David Bradley.
  14. ^ "Council of Foreign Relations"
  15. ^ Annys Shin (2004-08-02). "Ideas, Money Aren't Enough". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-08-18.

Further readingEdit

  • Jaffe, Harry (October 2000). "Citizen Bradley". Washingtonian. Retrieved 2015-04-20.