The Bloomberg Lesson

Jack Shafer in Slate:

061006_pb_bloombergtnThat Michael Bloomberg, who now presides over New York City as mayor, created in a little over two decades a news and information giant worth $5 billion-plus speaks as much to his enterprise as it does to the sloth and myopia of the conventional press. Better than anyone, Bloomberg perceived in the early 1980s an untapped need for instantly transmitted, market-moving news for traders of stocks and bonds. He understood that with new and affordable computer technologies he could leapfrog the old guard at Reuters and Telerate (once owned by the Wall Street Journal‘s parent, Dow Jones). A 10-second advantage over a competitor on a market-moving morsel of data could easily translate into substantial profits. Stock and bond traders rushed to rent the pricey Bloomberg Terminal, which now costs users about $1,425 a month. It not only delivered data but allowed customers to assemble elaborate, software-powered “what-if?” scenarios, and spat out useful analytical charts and graphs. One testament to Bloomberg’s power is that every major American newspaper business page now has a terminal or two doing heavy lifting for its reporters who cover the markets.

More here.