|Co-founder and Global Head of Financial Products and Services|
Thirty years ago Bloomberg installed its first few terminals, for Merrill Lynch & Co. Today its Bloomberg Professional service has more than 310,000 subscribers, a number that only begins to measure the growth, scope and impact of one of the premier data and communications platforms serving the financial world and an underlying technology infrastructure that is second to none. That distinction came about almost accidentally. Unable to buy technology fitting its specifications on the open market, Bloomberg invented it. "We even joined with Motorola to build our own multibus modem," recalls co-founder Thomas Secunda. It was the first such piece of hardware able to run at 9600 baud, or bits per second. The standard at the time was 4800 baud, "and we needed the speed for our customers."
Bloomberg has never stopped inventing "around the needs that our customers have," says Secunda, now vice chairman and global head of financial products and services. Over the years he has continuously scaled up technology development to match ever-increasing customer demand for market news and data, analytics and transaction services.
With Bloomberg Professional, the Bloomberg Tradebook agency brokerage and enterprise technology among his responsibilities, Secunda, 58, oversees 6,000 professionals, 3,000 of them technologists (out of more than 15,000 total Bloomberg employees). They are producing at a pace commensurate with the fast-changing and competitive market structure because, says Secunda, "if you don't constantly build out and innovate technology-wise, application-wise, you're going to be left in the dust."
Bloomberg's behind-the-scenes R&D and prototyping efforts spawn big strategic moves like the upgrade this year of its terminals to NEXT, the result of a multiyear effort to improve work flow and "discoverability"; and the recently announced Bloomberg Industries research platform, with contributions from 100 analysts including 30 senior analysts. In May the company acquired PolarLake, a provider of enterprise data management technology, which points toward new ways Secunda believes Bloomberg can help the financial industry and its cost structure. "The same way that Bloomberg automated a lot of the activities in the front office, we can do that across the enterprise," he says. "We should be able to produce something for the industry and sell it at a fraction of what it would cost one firm to build."