By Mari Taketa
On a weekday morning in the Bay Area, the anchor and executive producer of cable TV’s “Bloomberg Technology” and “Studio 1.0” is awakened not by her alarm, but by her four high-energy youngsters, ages 2, 5, 7 and 9. It’s a typical start to a day in the life of Emily Chang ’98 Stull – national bestselling author, Emmy winner and one of the country’s leading business journalists. She gives silent thanks that husband Jonathan Stull, COO of the job-matching app Handshake, is already up and making breakfast. Then she checks her phone. The news cycle never sleeps, and today there’s already a breaking story: Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey has just resigned. “It’s exhilarating and stressful,” Chang says, “But it means that we need to kick into high gear. Which guests are we going to book? I have to reach out to Twitter. I have to contact my sources to find the full story. What is the show going to look like? Who are we going to call?” With the sun still below the horizon, Chang’s day is already turbocharged.
She hustles the kids out the door to school, with the help of her nanny. Bloomberg’s West Coast studio is at Pier 3 on the Embarcadero, the network’s third largest after New York and Washington, D.C. It’s where Chang was recruited out of a job as CNN’s China correspondent, covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics, President Barack Obama ’79’s historic state visit and the superpower’s emergence onto the world stage. None of this, not even journalism, was on Chang’s radar a decade earlier as she contemplated her future after Punahou (where her mom, Sandra Chang, taught reading, writing and American history). Chang got into Harvard and opted for premed studies, but craving more stimulation and interaction, quickly switched to liberal arts and journalism. It didn’t matter that Harvard had no journalism program.
Freshman summer, an internship at Hawai‘i’s KITV sealed that decision. As Chang shadowed reporters and anchors and wrote her first news pieces, she fell in love with telling stories by putting words to pictures. Internships followed at “Good Morning America” in New York City and network affiliates in San Francisco and Boston. Chang’s first time in front of a camera was in Birmingham, Alabama. Her first on-air job was at KHON-TV in Honolulu. Her dad had just passed away, and coming home gave her time with her mom in a supportive community that embraced the local girl. Then she was off again, taking jobs in steadily bigger, more high-profile news markets – until Bloomberg reached out to her in Beijing. Jonathan had been accepted to business school at the University of California at Berkeley. The couple wanted to raise a family in the Bay Area. And Bloomberg was proposing that Chang launch a new TV show based in San Francisco. It was pretty much a dream come true. Except she had never been a business journalist.
The first meeting of the day is bicoastal. “Bloomberg Technology’s New York team goes over a rundown of the day’s show, with Chang and the San Francisco team chiming in to talk about what news might develop and which guests to feature. The rundown can change many times before the show goes live at 2 p.m., but today the lead is clearly the Dorsey resignation. Chang starts researching, prepping notes and interview questions, bouncing ideas off her producers. Bloomberg’s studio is not far from Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters and Silicon Valley. The tech giants are all on the West Coast, which is why New York-based Bloomberg launched the country’s first TV show about technology, innovation and the future of business here. For Chang it presented a steep learning curve. She tackled the assignment the same way she took on journalism at Harvard – full-bore. “Bloomberg West,” the predecessor of “Bloomberg Technology,” debuted in 2011, with Chang anchoring its fast-paced coverage five days a week. Not satisfied with the snippets of interviews she could fit in the hourlong program, she launched a second, “Studio 1.0,” leading one-on-one “chatfests” with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Arianna Huffington, Melinda Gates and others – often people known for not giving interviews.
Women are prominent among her guests. Chang’s 2018 book “Brotopia: Breaking up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley,” exposed a surprising bro culture and its toxic, culling effects on women in tech. It became an immediate national bestseller. “The book was a huge milestone in my career and maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but so rewarding,” Chang says. “I hope that changed the world a little bit. I hope it had some influence on the Me Too movement in Silicon Valley and beyond. I want girls and women everywhere to know that they can do it. We need their talents, and we need them to help us break down the barriers, brick by brick.” She still gets invited to talk about her book and will make time to share what she’s learned. But not today.
“I’m Emily Chang in San Francisco, and this is Bloomberg Technology.” The show is live. Today, after a flurry of on- and off-the-record calls with sources, she’ll interview David Kirkpatrick, a New York Times journalist who covers Twitter and Facebook, and Bloomberg’s Twitter specialist for insight into Dorsey’s abrupt departure. At this level, Chang’s world of business television is fiercely competitive, and the goal is always to book the most relevant guests, deliver the most salient information, which can mean chasing leads and reaching out to CEOs, investors and entrepreneurs often until 1:45, the last possible minute. And then, at 3 p.m., it’s over. Chang and her team debrief and brainstorm ideas for tomorrow’s show. By 4 p.m., the workday is a wrap.
Family time. Regrouped with her kids at home, she distributes snacks from work (Bloomberg’s perks include unlimited free snacks for employees) and listens as they recount their day. They’re active in baseball, soccer, piano and other activities, so this unscheduled playtime is golden. It’s often the one window in her day when Chang can unwind – or rather, in a house with four youngsters, it’s when she can step out of the 24-hour news stream. Reading together, doing projects or just hanging out, this unstructured family time is strictly structured into her day.
With the kids tucked in, Chang uses these quiet moments to prep for the next day’s segments. In the back of her mind is a wish list of people she finds fascinating but has yet to interview – Reese Witherspoon, for her active role in streaming and fascination with cryptocurrency; Beyoncé, whose career moves she admires as much as her music; and the heads of TikTok and Snapchat. “I want to better understand how these products are going to change our lives and the lives of our children,” Chang says. “The pandemic has changed all of our lives and it’s changed technology. Companies like Google are going to be working in hybrid mode. Cryptocurrency is just taking off and we’re heading into a crypto winter, a down cycle for the industry. The transition to electric cars is huge, as well as how companies are working on sustainability.” She may eventually write another book. But every day, the next thing on her plate is tomorrow’s show.
Some nights, Chang and Jonathan close the day with a Wordle duel. Then the last lights in the house go off.