When it came to light this spring that Bloomberg reporters had tracked the activities of subscribers to the company's ubiquitous terminals, the suspect function was shut down, and it fell to executives other than Thomas Secunda to deal with the reputational fallout. The problem may have been enabled by a control flaw, but it was more behavioral than technological. Secunda and his team of 3,000 technologists, meanwhile, have continued to produce process and product innovations at a breakneck and accelerating pace. Last November, Bloomberg launched its App Portal for third parties such as software companies, financial firms and academics to offer data analysis, visualization and other tools. Secunda, vice chairman and global head of financial products and services, sees it as a way "to embrace innovation and fuel creativity" and to "enhance the user experience and grow the value of the Bloomberg Professional service." Other recent developments include integrating Twitter feeds into the terminal work flow; filing to serve as a swap execution facility; releasing Instant Bloomberg Dealing, a chat-based platform for foreign exchange trading; and announcing Bloomberg Beta, a $75 million venture capital fund with a handful of high-tech start-ups in its portfolio. "We are many things," remarks Secunda, "and one of the things we are is a technology company."
At Bloomberg's start, 31 years ago, systems adequate to its mission simply could not be purchased. "You had to invent technology to survive," explains the 59-year-old Bloomberg co-founder. "We built our own databases, our own communications protocol, communication devices, routers." Over time, "technology has changed around us," and Bloomberg no longer needs to do everything itself. Yet to this day "our most-used database package is one of the databases we originally built."
Bloomberg has both a short game when Apple introduced the iPad in 2010, Bloomberg had a "native app" ready to go and a long one. While Apple was putting out subsequent generations of iPads, Secunda's R&D forces worked to more closely replicate the desktop interface familiar to the 315,000 Bloomberg Professional network subscribers. The upgraded iPad app was released in April, and Secunda vows to continue to build apps "for different platforms, designed specifically for how our clients use those platforms. There is a wow factor in what we are doing."
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