News at Bloomberg

News at Bloomberg

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Bloomberg is one of the original, most successful, and enduring fintech companies. 

Startups seeking to emulate Bloomberg often ask why and how Bloomberg – originally a data company – successfully integrated news into its operations. 

I shared insights about those early days with Thomas Li, CEO and co-founder of Daloopa, on his InDaloop podcast. I have some perspective since I was the 15th person hired by Bloomberg News when it launched in 1990.

Daloopa, if you aren’t familiar, provides analysts at hedge funds, private equity firms, and banks with tools to update models quickly. The company recently raised $18 million in a Series B. Thomas previously worked at Point72 and KCL Capital. 

Mike Bloomberg had two profound insights about content that transformed his company to the point that today it’s better known as a media giant. 

First, content complemented price data on the terminal. Mike understood that prices showed how stocks and bonds fluctuated, but not why. News became the third leg of a product stool that differentiated Bloomberg from other data providers.

The second, less obvious insight, was that every news story would be an advertisement for the product. People reading articles would wonder: “What is Bloomberg?” News effectively was marketing. In this, Mike was decades ahead of today’s “content creators” and promotional content.

Thomas asked how, if anyone can publish news articles, did Bloomberg stand out? 

To help explain that, I told two stories on the podcast.

Bloomberg, like many publications then and now, summarized breaking news from other sources. Unlike rivals, however, when Bloomberg started in 1990 we didn’t wait for the newspapers to reach the newsstand at 7 am. (This was before the Internet!) 

Instead, I was assigned the task of taking a taxi to a newspaper wholesaler on the Upper East Side at 3:30 a.m. I slipped the owner some extra cash in exchange for early copies of the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. 

That way, Bloomberg could report on scoops in the Wall Street Journal during London trading, hours before anyone else got a copy of the paper. 

Bloomberg was also innovative in how it covered economic data released by the government.

At that time, the Commerce and Labor Departments would sequester journalists in “lockups” and give them the numbers half an hour before public release to write their articles.

Most reporters would scramble and type furiously.

Bloomberg reporters pre-wrote three versions of every story based on various assumptions. The preparation resulted in more accurate, comprehensive, and thoughtful stories on deadline.

The credit for these and other tactics goes to founding Editor-in-Chief Matt Winkler

Matt had previously worked at the Wall Street Journal so he understood the need for high-quality reporting and writing. 

But as the head of what was effectively a startup, he also knew he had to do things differently. 

It’s a reminder that there are always ways to innovate, even in the most established industries.

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US VS EUROPE: The table shows one day’s performance but it captures a reality that’s persisted for decades: the U.S. economy and markets continue to outperform European equities by a long shot.

ADVERTISING: I recently started including ads in my newsletter. My first payout was $41! I’m not going to get rich, but it felt incredible.

MARKETING: Everything someone else does – journalism, advertising, marketing etc always seems easy. It never is.

THE ROMANS: On a regular basis someone in England seems to dig up Roman artifacts. Timely reminder of how little we know and how much more we will learn as the past is unearthed.

SARATOGA: The battle of Saratoga was a turning point in the American Revolution. I visited recently and came upon a field marking the location of the formal surrender of the British. On one side a neighbor was mowing his lawn; on the other, a guy was burning some leaves. Time marches on.

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