20. Bloomberg L.P.

Revenues 2013: $ 8.300 billion (€ 6.250 billion)

Overview

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Bloomberg L.P. is a global information service provider, primarily concerned with the transmission of financial data. By means of the Bloomberg Professional Service, Bloomberg provides a standardised platform for its approximately 250.000 professional users from all over the world, delivering various forms of finance and market information services. The media company contains a news agency, a television channel, radio stations, a publisher and online service. Bloomberg employs about 9.4000 people in 125 countries, 2000 of which are journalists. Michael Bloomberg holds 90 percent of shares and is not only the founder but also the major shareholder of the company. Bloomberg stepped down from the company leadership position when he was voted the mayor of New York in 2001. In the fall of 2008, Bloomberg successfully campaigned for an amendment to New York City's term-limits law that would allow him to run for a third term in 2009. Bloomberg won the election on November 3, 2009.

General Information

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Headquarters:
Bloomberg L.P.
731 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Telefon: +1-212-318-2000
Telefax: +1-917-369-5000
www.bloomberg.com

Branches: Financial services, news agency, television, magazines,
Legal form: Private Company
Financial year: 01/01 - 12/31
Founding year: 1981

Table I: Economic Performance (in $ Mio.)

2012

2011

2010

2009*

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

Revenues

7,920¹

7,600****

6,900***

6,250**

5,452*

4,7

n/a

3,329

2,988

Employees

n/a

15,000

n/a

n/a

10,000

9,500

n/a

8,000

8,200

* est., source: Silicon Valley Insider
** est., source: Wall Street Journal
***est., source: Wall Street Journal
****est., source: Wall Street Journal
¹ est., source: FT.com

People

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Executives:

  • Daniel L. Doctoroff, President, CEO
  • Peter T. Grauer, Chairman
  • Beth Mazzeo, Data Products Division
  • Tom Secunda, Global Head of Financial Products and Services
  • Matthew Winkler, Editor in Chief, Bloomberg News
  • Justin Smith, CEO, Bloomberg Media Group

 

Board of Directors:

  • Daniel L. Doctoroff
  • Tom Secunda
  • Peter T. Grauer
  • Louis Andreozzi J.D.
  • Arthur Levitt, Jr., Wisdom Tree Investments, Inc.
  • Jane Bryant Quinn, GSE Systems Inc.
  • Frank Savage, Savage Holdings
  • Richard DeScherer, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
  • Martin Geller


Major shareholders: Michael Bloomberg (90%*).
*Source: New York Times

History

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Michael Bloomberg realized very early on that a global form of economic journalism would experience a time of bloom and prosperity due to the globalisation. He founded the company Innovative Marketing Systems in 1981 and began marketing the Bloomberg Terminal. The Bloomberg Terminal is a computer terminal that is connected to the information service and by means of which financial data can be transmitted. The service is intended first and foremost for specialists, who work in finance and economy. The financial means for this project were sourced from the estimated 10 million USD severance pay that Bloomberg received after leaving the  Salomon Brothers company. Since the mid-1970s, Bloomberg had been the head of its stock trade department. He left the company shortly after it was privatised.

Nowadays, Bloomberg's media company consists of a news agency, a television channel, radio stations, a publisher and an online service on top of the core information service. Initially, these company branches were supposed to market the terminal. Due to the fact that Bloomberg disposed only of a rather small advertising budget, he founded the Bloomberg new agency in order to gain a higher media presence. He offers newspapers free usage of his 'Bloombergs' and in return the newspapers have to agree to print news items under his name. Ever since, according to Bloomberg explaining his strategy, he enjoyed favourable criticism and reviews and the company was considered a reliable source of news. In regards to this development, the business paper 'Columbia Journalism Review'  wrote that the journalists would thank Bloomberg's advertising gift 'with ink'. All the newspapers that opted never to or rarely use his information service(s) were threatened with a potential denial of services.

When the financial service provider Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. buys several terminals, it becomes the first client of Bloomberg and obtains a thirty percent share of the company for 39 million USD in 1985. Following Merrill Lynch's entrance into the company, the Bloomberg terminals are produced back-to-back. As of today, the terminals are part of about 180.000 offices and private residencies, including the Vatican and the 'New York Times' editor's office and generate the company's lion share of revenue thanks to the monthly rent of 1500 USD per terminal. The terminals provide news updates on movements on the New York, Hong Kong and Frankfurt stock markets at lightning speed. The interactive online service is primarily of interest to brokers, as it is much easier to handle than the clunky information services provided by Reuters and Dow Jones. In a time when the USA bathes itself in an economic boom and even the middle class are looking for possibilities to invest capital, Bloomberg and its terminals provide all the necessary information: Stock market data and company news. Incidentally, sports results, weather reports and horoscopes also find their way onto the screen, alongside the stock market information, as well as cinema showtimes and menus for selected restaurant. The idea behind this, according to Bloomberg, was to provide the travailed brokers with moments of  relaxation, because 'work and private life' should ideally be one and the same, thus reads the company head's philosophy.

The company continues to flourish in the 1980s and over time, the information provided by the terminals becomes more important than the terminals itself. The business with financial data becomes the core segment of the company, which is renamed to Bloomberg L.P. In 1986. Even the stock market crash of 1987 is survived relatively unscathed and foreign branches are opened up in London & Tokyo.
In 1990, Bloomberg and its Bloomberg News enter the news business. The news are directly transmitted via the terminals. The editors' office is founded anew and the company hires journalists from the  „Wall Street Journal“ and „Forbes“ (among others). In 1992, the company acquires a New York radio station and turns it into a pure news station, followed by an in-house television studio and a satellite TV-station. In 1994, the 'Bloomberg Personal Finance Magazine' is released for the first time.

Starting in 1995, Bloomberg offers business information via the Internet plus an information service that hitherto had only been accessible through terminals, now being made PC-compatible and sold to third-party providers. Furthermore, the Bloomberg tradebook makes its first appearance, an electronic trading system. One year later, the company portfolio is extended by publishing activities and releases several books. The daily program of the New York television station WPXN is also produced by Bloomberg. It is during this time that Michael Bloomberg buys back ten percent of Merrill Lynch's shares of the company for 200 million USD. The company has an estimated value of two billion USD.

In 1998, the company pushes the Bridge Information Systems company off the market, which became part of  Reuters in the meantime. Bloomberg keeps in expanding through cooperating with Internet-based companies as well as by publishing the Bloomberg Money“ (1998) and „Bloomberg Wealth Manager“ (1999) magazines. Furthermore, a cooperation with the Australian Stock market and a Spanish television station extend the company's business range. In 2000, the E-Commerce portal by Merrill Lynch is made accessible for Bloomberg clients and in 2004, the company announced that it will provide the TV channel  E! Entertainment Television with economy programs for the next three years.

The first few years of the new century for Bloomberg are marked by the tough competition in the form of two large competitors Thomson and Reuters on the German market. In 2001, Bloomberg is sued for indemnification due to the distribution of a false report, which resulted in Emulex suffering from heavy losses. The affair triggered discussions about the tough competition between the information providers and whether the resulting time pressure would influence the journalistic quality in general.

During that time, Bloomberg was also forced to cancel a handful of magazine titles, including the well-known „Bloomberg Personal Finance Magazine“ in 2003. On the other hand, the 'Bloomberg Markets', which had only been available through subscription so far, is now available in retail shops too. At the same time, the staff of the Bloomberg news division voice their concern regarding a decrease in journalistic quality due to unqualified management. According to an article in 'Die Welt', drop-outs speak of a 'journalistic sweat-shop'. The protest reaches its high point in 2004 with the attempt to found a union. The competitor Reuters on the other hand is delighted about the numerous applications by former Bloomberg employees that fly through the mail slot as many journalists tune their back on the company. In order to support the potential founding of a union, a dedicated website is created on the Internet, supported by the newspaper guild. The website aims to convince employees to take part in the preliminary voting regarding the union foundation. For this to be achieved, a relative majority had to vote for a union. After two years, the website was finally taken down, because only a small number of employees were willing to voice their support for a union. Reasons for which had been the very good pay as well as the good work conditions, but also the fear of losing one's job.  

When Bloomberg announced that he would not return to the company after the end of his term in office by the end of 2004, the hitherto bubbling rumours about selling the company now boiled all over again: It was speculated in February 2005, whether Microsoft Corperation would take over the company, after the likes of Thomson and Pearson PLC   had been in the talks as potentially interested parties. Yet, all speculations regarding a take over did not turn out to be true in the end and Bloomberg himself becomes the buyer. In April 2006, Bloomberg takes over Brainpower N.V.,, an European investment-software-provider.

In October 2007, Bloomberg L.P. once again makes the headlines, as even more women are suing the company. Just like the trial in the early 1990s, the new trial was concerned with the circumstance that women, who had told the company of their pregnancy and took maternity leave, were downgraded as far as payment was concerned and shifted to worse positions within the company. Bloomberg explains the court cases with the fact that he would be an effective target of public scrutiny due to his popularity. That is the only reason his company is being sued for offences that are common in other companies too. The trials reveal that Michael Bloomberg, despite his affirmation of the opposite, is still in the habit of staying in close touch with his company's leaders. This fact is of particular interest, as Bloomberg had denied an active involvement in the company due to his position as mayor. The New York Times however quoted legal experts who considered Michael Bloomberg's demeanour as legitimate after all. While only four women sued the company in October 2007, the number of female plaintiffs climbed to 61 in May 2008.

Management

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Michael Rubens Bloomberg was born on the 14th of February 1942. He stems from a petty bourgeois family and grew up in a small town in Massachusetts. Humility and modesty had never been traits easily associated with Bloomberg. “I believe that I can do everything better”, as one of his trademark phrases goes. His confidence may have been a pivotal factor in his rise from secretary to the head of stock trading at Salomon Brothers. He always came a tad earlier and stayed a bit longer in the office than his bosses and became one of the best-paid Wall Street brokers at Salomon Brothers investment bank. In 1981 however, his ambition went one step too far: Bloomberg demanded more power and had to take his hat. He received ten million USD compensation, which he used to build up his company from the ground up.

In February 2001, Bloomberg – residing on place 34 of the Forbes' list of the 400 richest Americans – withdrew from the daily operative business and has been dedicating his time to his third career ever since – politics. Although he had always been flirting with the democrats,  he chose to be nominated by the Republicans in order to increase his chances and became the successor of Rudolph Giuliani and new mayor of New York on the 6th of November 2001. His election was the subject of criticism by many, because Bloomberg used his immense fortune to pay for a canvassing campaign that was second to none. Due to the fact that he did not need to fall back to public spendings for his campaign, he did not need to adhere to the associated restrictions and regulations. Therefore, he invested more in his auto-propaganda than all of his competitors combined. In 2005, Bloomberg once again managed to win 59 percent of all votes, with a 20-percent gap between him and the closest competitor. According to surveys, it seems that the citizens of New York are much more satisfied with Bloomberg's performance than initially estimated.

Since Bloomberg's withdrawal from the company, Matthew Winkler has been running the daily operations, a former journalist of the 'Wall Street Journal'. Peter Grauer became the chairman of Bloomberg L.P. in March 2001. By the end of 2007, Bloomberg made the debuty mayor of New York, Daniel L. Doctoroff, the president of Bloomberg L.P. Michael Bloomberg himself allegedly entertains no intentions to return to the company, which has moved to its new headquarters at the Manhattan Upper East Side by now. As of today, the net worth of Bloomberg's 90 percent share of his own company is estimated at more than six billion dollars. Therefore he can afford to work as mayor for the symbolic pay of one dollar. 

Business Fields

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Information Services
The information service Bloomberg Professional Service operates as an unified platform, providing interactive finance data, news, reports and analytical data. Further functions such as E-Mail and E-Commerce are also integrated into the platform. The interface-design has been the target of critics due to its outdated design and some compare it to the layout of MS DOS.

For a long time, a so-called Bloomberg Terminal was needed to use the information service, which resembles a computer screen both in form and function. Since 1995, many of its services were accessible via the Internet too. Bloomberg also pushed the distribution of Bloomberg Anywhere, which can only be accessed through a biometric identification process, ensuring maximum security. Because of this technical detail, companies now have to pay for a complete account per staff member, while multiple employees had been able to share single Bloomberg Terminal before. This increase in cost also stirred up the clients displeasure. Bloomberg does not struggle with implementing the aforementioned changes, as features such as the messaging function of the terminals are a common and widely used communication device within the business. Companies depend on the contact features by the terminal, making a change of providers severely difficult.

The majority of clients, who pay an annual fee of 17.000 to 20.000 USD, only use a few out of the thousand possible functions and one might wonder whether a competitior could not provide the most important functions for a much lower price. One problem for Bloomberg is the competition that prevails on the Internet, such as Yahoo Finance or Google Finance. Those services may not be as advanced as the Bloomberg Terminals yet, but develop at a fast pace and are free. Bloomberg's main competitor Thomson-Reuters appears to be better prepared for future shifts and developments on the market due to its extended content structure. Unlike Bloomberg, the information provider does not depend on the eventual swell of the financial markets, as its client base also contains physicians or scientists (amongst others).

In late May 2011, Bloomberg L.P. ventured into the opinionated newspaper market. A politically neutral financial information service provider and media company so far, it now published two columns per day, which are primarily concerned with questions of economics and foreign policy, on its homepage and through other distribution channels (Bloomberg TV, Bloomberg Radio, BusinessWeek). More and more details regarding the new Bloomberg columnist became known in the last weeks and months, but the critical voices do not cease to point out that Bloomberg View is first and foremost a political propaganda tool for the mayor of New York and founder of the company, Michael Bloomberg.

News Agency
In 1990, Bloomberg launched its news agency Bloomberg Business News (today: 'Bloomberg News'), which initially covered economy news, but has extended its content range to include politics and sports in the meantime.

TV & Radio
Bloomberg TV was launched in 1994. “If you want to be successful, you have to cater for all forms of media”, said Bloomberg. One distinct feature of Bloomberg TV had been the window concept of a split screen, the so-called 'Multi-Screen'. The network of Bloomberg TV consists of ten independent channels, which are received by a total of 200 million households in seven languages and around the clock, 43 million of which are located in Europe.

The program of Bloomberg Radio is carried by 840 radio stations all over the world. It is a full-on news program. Bloomberg Radio's main station is BLOOMBERG 1130 (WBBR-AM) in New York.

Online
The company's Internet brand Bloomberg.com was launched in 1995. Apart from up-to-date market data, economy news and background reports, the users can access comprehensive databases. The economic data covers a major part of the world regions and offers information about currencies, stocks and fonds (among other things).

Print/Magazine
Bloomberg is active on the print market as a publisher and with a special interest magazine.

The Bloomberg Press publisher carries books on financial matters both for professionals and general interest audiences. Since 1996, a total of 140 have been released through the publisher. The books are penned by finance specialists, including editors of Bloomberg News and are released in more than 20 languages. Bloomberg Press also publishes the Economist range in the USA and Canada. The BLOOMBERG MARKETS Magazine, published by 'Periodicals Publishing' is released monthly and its target audience are the 250.000 users of Bloomberg Professional.

In 2009, Bloomberg L.P. took over the economy magazine BusinessWeek from the McGraw-Hill media company (in deficit at the time of acquisition). However, a veil of silence was draped over the modalities of payment, but according to a report in BusinessWeek, the price allegedly lay in the range of two to five million USD, including assumption of debt.

Content

Institute of Media and Communications Policy

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Media Pluralism in Europe

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Partners

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Mediadb.eu is funded by medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg,

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the Open Society Foundations' Media Program,

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Germany's Federal Agency for Civic Education,

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the Rudolf Augstein Foundation,

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the city of Cologne, Germany,

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and the State of Thuringia, Department of Commerce.

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