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Why it’s hard to kill the Bloomberg terminal (2019) (marker.medium.com)
275 points by simonebrunozzi on July 20, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 227 comments

A lot of people misunderstand the uses of a Bloomberg Terminal. I'm a former terminal user. Bloomberg introduced one of the first, and certainly the longest-lasting, social networks when it debuted in 1981. It is a social network whose average user earns more than $400k per year. There's not as many of those as there are Facebook users, but they have very specific needs, they are likely to know and need to communicate with many of their peers, and they consider having a Bloomberg Terminal a mark of status. Bloomberg benefits from the ultimate network lockin. If you work in a financial firm and you don't merit a Bloomberg Terminal, no matter how high up you are in HR, then you're not that important to the company. All those folks are messaging each other with their Bloomberg IDs, so they know with each message who's in and who's out.

For those who dislike Bloomberg's UI, guess what, many people within Bloomberg do, too. But over the decades, their users have learned how to get to their favorite screens by navigating through a pseudo-CLI, and those users do not want to learn something new. Anyone who has ever tried to build a tooling company of any sort knows how hard it is to ask people to swap out one set of tools for another. Your ideal UI for Bloomberg runs directly counter to the deepest desires of their historical clients. Mastering the useless difficulty of that UI, too, means you are part of the in group.

Finally, Bloomberg has set peoples' expectations across work spaces, and it offers many financial firms a standard tooling. Trader X used a Bloomberg Terminal at Firm Y, well, she'll get up to speed quickly with us because we also use it.

[edited to recognize the author understands the social network side of Bloomberg terminals, in line with comment below.]

> A lot of people, including the author of this piece, misunderstand the uses of a Bloomberg Terminal.

The author says: "[The terminal] is basically an exclusive club of approximately 325,000 people whose employers think they are worth at least $25,000 per year above their base salary."

So I don't think they missed the point.

I think the idea that a bloomberg terminal is status symbol is not accurate. All it means is that I can save more than $25K in my trades per year by having it, which is a very small hurdle.

I absolutely agree. I had a terminal for most of my career and while it's an amazing piece of software (Reuters offer doesn't come close despite them often having more extensive news and data) and it's super convenient for contacting brokers and banks, I never felt people without it were left out. Especially nowadays, it's not uncommon for brokers to only give traders Bloomberg and Analysts other software to save cost. Doesn't impede their status. Quite the opposite, we always used to say that we'd happily give away terminal access for $25k extra a year. The reason that never happened is because having Bloomberg Access is in the companies' interests, not just the employees' personal interest.

Either way:

All of this makes me think the real value for many of a Bloomberg terminal is level 0 access to the insider trading club.

(Yes, I'm a cynical person. No, I'm not saying everyone who has a Bloomberg terminal is doing insider trading.)

This isn't legal advice, but when you do something illegal, it's best not to do it in a semi-public forum that is tracked by your employer and would be an obvious place for law enforcement to look. Everyone who uses a Bloomberg terminal knows that their employer's legal department can and will look at logs of their conversations. Does insider trading happen there? Probably... people do stupid stuff all the time when it comes to insider trading, such as using their work emails. But it's definitely not the core value of a terminal for anyone.

You never need to preface any comment with a disclaimer about it not being legal advice.

Can you explain an example insider trading situation involving Bloomberg terminals?

I do not think that Bloomberg terminals are any more useful for insider trading, in the strict sense, than any other communication device, and probably less so because they are more likely to be monitored by one's employer. However, there is one exception: Bloomberg News publishes a lot of scoops about public companies. That is its raison d'être. To move markets. Those Bloomberg scoops are released to terminal subscribers 15-20 minutes before the news hits the rest of the market. So it's a kind of syndication of inside information, obtained by Bloomberg reporters from anonymous sources somehow apprised of the companies that the journalists cover. But Bloomberg doesn't trade. Its clients do. Bloomberg just reports, and there is nothing illegal about that.

Isn’t insider trading is defined as trading based on non-public information not available to other shareholders. (So you don’t have to be an actual insider - you could be trading on information you got by dumpster-diving).

That would make it a grey-area if it’s information that will eventually be made public within an hour. I guess it depends on the type of trades you perform...

No, it's trading with information that you shouldn't have had access to. Think of it as being about misappropriate of information, theft, not fairness. If I have private satellites that I use to photograph cropland, and I use that information to trade agriculture futures, this is not insider trading even if nobody else is privy to the information. Similarly, if I have investigative journalists working for me and I trade based on their unpublished investigations, that's also not insider trading unless the journalists got the information from an insider. It's not about whether the public does have the information, it's about whether the information was gotten from someone who had a legal responsibility to not share it.

The finance writer Matt Levine writes on this topic somewhat frequently, I scrounged up an example.


or 325,000 users counts as broadly disseminated

Insider trading is complicated in the US because it is a creature of the executive branch and the courts. Congress largely quiet on exactly what constitutes it, and the regulator learning to leverage broad fraud statutes and a few wins in the court, alongside many losses.

No, insider trading does not mean “non-public information not available to other shareholders”, at least not in the US. It has to be information generated internally that was meant to be kept confidential.

There are many funds that base their entire existence on doing private research about companies and making trading decisions on this non-public research.

Visceral example: you spot a CEO get fatally run over by a car. You can immediately bet against the company via short selling, options, etc. even though the knowledge of his/her death is definitely non-public at that time.

It also needs to be material information.

I have only followed the story in passing but I believe LIBOR rates were fixed in a Bloomberg terminal chatroom called "The Cartel":


It's hard for me to Google this because Bloomberg.com's own articles leave this out and simply refer to it as "a chatroom" not "a Bloomberg terminal chatroom".

That's what I thought of.

Some chat snippets here:


It’s accessing the chat data. If a bad actor could access incoming chats from a major broker’s PT/Swaps desk, a great deal of money could be made.

That's for any piece of trading software used at brokers, banks and asset managers. Bloomberg IB is a central piece of trading architecture but not more so than many others.

It probably means they think it is worth 25,000*Factor -- In sales that factor can be quite high, 4, 6 or even 8 as a mark of a good sales person. In other industries it could be lower, but you expect that terminal to produce significantly more than it costs if you are willing to pay for it.

I think Bloomberg chat is much less important as a social network these days. It's heavily monitored by compliance departments and any communication that diverges from direct market trading is generally frowned upon.

Did that happen after the LIBOR scandal?


> What the complaint makes clear is that it should not have taken five years to bring these charges. The traders effectively handed the Justice Department a slam dunk case by documenting each maneuver to rig the international interest rate benchmark known as Libor via instant messages recorded on a Bloomberg computer terminal.

That was one contributing factor. There have been a lot of high profile scandals and this has led regulators to be far stricter. Eg we're not allowed to have personal phones in the office and must go to special areas in the building to use them. Some organisations confiscate phones (and I hear shoes) on entry; although I think this is more a concern about proprietary information.

> I hear shoes

Do people slide around in their socks or is there some kind of bowling shoes esque system?

Sandals are common.

They can just "establish" the network using Bloomberg and actually discuss illegal things off-channel e.g. Signal.

Meh... if you look at SEC cases of insider trading, they usually get wind of it from the trades - out of the money calls purchased a week before earnings release and expire a week later. Then they just start talking to the people involved. Most people fold pretty quickly.

> Did that happen after the LIBOR scandal?

IB has been fully monitored by compliance since its inception, so nothing changed there. Whether or not firms have working compliance departments is probably the question you should be asking :)

I don't think there is any other social network or IM app that allows you to ping CEOs all over the world

You can @ the President of the United States on Twitter

And immediately light yourself up for attention from a hivemind and the utterly unpredictable torrent of entropy that may follow.

Honestly, writing an email probably also gets you there. If sent from the right domain (big bank, asset manager or even pension fund), you'll get attention quickly. It's not about the channel, it's about signaling who's on the other end of the line.

If you IB a CEO with a Bloomberg account from some university or so, you'll probably have little success getting a reply either.

It still helps with discovery of potential contact . the actual transaction/communication of interest to both parties may happen outside using other more private means


What if Bloomberg made a "new UI", which you could easily toggle to/from, for the benefit of the people who don't like the current UI? Over time the number of people who use the current UI would become a smaller and smaller share of their customer base, and in like, 30 years, they could turn the old UI off.

There was an experiment where they introduced "B2" which was a redesigned terminal and it looked and felt much more like a web browser. People hated it. They moved it to an opt-in feature. No one (except internal BB engineers) used it for years so they eventually stopped adding features. Then after another few years they stopped supporting it. Then semi-recently (within 2 years) they shut it off completely. No one was willing to switch. Now they just rollout small changes incrementally (much better approach anyway).

Why would they though? If their customer retention is already super high, the only reason to make an onboarding curve more shallow would be to acquire new users.

Given there's already a social appeal to getting a Bloomberg Terminal, why would they invest the development time/dollars? What's their ROI?

Hi -- just wanted to say that there's a lot of armchair theorizing in this particular thread of discussion. I'm directly involved in building the product and the most succinct way I would personally summarize it is that the service (not product) is a subscription. Customers are not only paying for value derived from the current product but from the near-constant (~24/6) evolution and development of it (thousands of engineers spread across many timezones), and 24/7 monitoring of it. Or another way to think of it... what's Mercedes' ROI for improving their luxury cars? It's already a best-of-breed luxury car -- they could just do nothing, right?

Success hides problems though. If through some unforeseen means a competitor were to arise in 5-10 years who happened to have a better UI that works for a wider range of people, then spending 35 years saying “They can’t choose anyone but us! Let them eat CLI arguments!” is going to look pretty silly.

If it would cost a tiny, tiny fraction of their revenue to shore up their UI to make it harder for a future competitor to disrupt them, that seems like a worthy use of money.

They tried it - nobody used it.

One thing people fail to realise is while not initially intuitive once you get used to it the Bloomberg UX becomes muscle memory to instantly load (they force all but the smallest customers onto leased lines) exactly the data you wanted in a dense consistent (UX on any remotely popular function is reviewed and guidelines enforced) easy to read form.

this. bloomberg terminal is an expert friendly system. it’s not optimized for high conversion rates and casual stickiness, it’s optimized for the productivity of people who are willing to spend the time building the muscle memory.

it is the Emacs of finance.

You mean vi right? (I prefer emacs myself partially because I feel it’s more noob friendly)

> a better UI that works for a wider range of people

But also remember how much it costs and what their clients are willing to spend. It's not for the wider internet.

While I kind of agree, I think it goes against the culture of exclusivity. Generally speaking, goods that are valued because they are exclusive are not strategically better off by making that product accessible to more users. Burberry is a great example of this and how bad it can be for the company.

if you want to hire and retain highly talented folks they would want to work on new tech and product philosophies ?

Doesn’t that benefit the company long term ?

There maybe two distinct markets and Bloomberg can captilize on both perhaps ?

The newer UI could be built as completely new platform “Bloomberg lite“ targeted towards say folks who can only pay 10,000 USD per year or only say currency traders or whatever ?

If interest starts tilting in the favour of newer version you can slowly add features to near parity while moving the older version even more expensive bracket and getting the newer version closer to old pricing ?

If enough people don’t want the new one you try again something different in a couple of years , until you get it right .

The problem with bloomberg lite is many of those users are now paying $10k instead of $25k.

For years their major customers tried to force them into offering an Instant Bloomberg (IM) only license because senior traders insisted their PAs had it. It was only after several senior banks (whenever a single bank had tried the top talent threatened to quit) forced their users to use symphony that Bloomberg relented.

Yes to start with, you differentiate the value by giviing limited features at lower price point so people who need everything clearly not going to be interested.

If there is enough interest on the new product you add features to new version and start hiking the price of both so relative price difference remains similar. There will not be a negative impact on revenue in that approach

You could grow the new product in a different direction completely for whole new user who are ready to pay 10,000 but not 25,000. The 25k terminal is still aspirational and exclusive as it is now, if the premise that people are paying for the exclusive network is true both products can work on their own and 10k community can feed into 25k on, if not well there was never a moat to protect in the first place.

The thing you miss is the ecosystem tie and just how many users could get by with only the base functionality.

i.e. Paying $25k for an IM system for a PA or some basic trade management functionality for a middle office analyst is ludicrous.

But you're also not going to force the trader bringing in millions to run 5 different systems when he knows Bloomberg can do it all and your competitor would give it to him.

Bloomberg has a steep learning curve but it's amazing once you've worked for it for a few months. I can access the most exotic functions or sub menus by just typing in a string of numbers. I don't think any other software allows you to already select menus on a page that hasn't even loaded yet. Changing anything is a huge annoyance for users.

There have been a few newer functions that don't allow accessing everything by number shortcut and they're certainly not the most favourite parts of the terminal.

Seems like making the interface more accessible would defeat a part of the lock-in that makes the product so valuable. People already want to become Bloomberg Terminal users, the UI is "good enough", and once you're good at it, it's a sunk cost.

Despite this, they are sorta doing that.

They are doing that, and have been doing it for years. Adoption is extremely slow.

This is the approach Salesforce took, isn't it?

Yes. It’s taken half a decade and many increasingly forceful nudges to get about half of the customers over to the new UI.

This despite the fact that new features haven’t been released to the classic version for at least 3 years. Not only are they on a dated UI, they’re missing every single new feature that’s been released for several years (and that’s actually a shit load of features).

Yeah, I didn't want to comment on it but "just changing the UI" did not work well for them. IME it has to be done slowly with gradual improvements.

Instead of trying to "kill" the Bloomberg Terminal, it seems like a more rational choice, assuming success is the model we are trying to follow, would be to replicate it.

I love Bloomberg Terminal's "UI". Really, I think it is the Bloomberg keyboard that enables such hard-to-replace efficiency. Perhaps one can draw analogy to the APL keyboard. The keyboard is still the most efficient input device we have. That is, I think, what is so difficult to "kill". Keyboard-driven computer use still works more efficently than the alternatives.

Anyone who replies to this comment using a keyboard is proving this point.

I tried to have some fun illustrating this in a tweet reply using the Terminal https://twitter.com/apaprocki/status/1230241842928791552

Efficiency is only material in terms of something.

To provide a devils advocate to your last point, people could be most likely to respond on keyboards because a keyboard is an cost - efficient option for the majority of potential responders.

However there could be other tech that is more time - efficient. And for someone with an advanced condition such as ALS, it would be extremely inaccurate & inefficient in terms of either cost or time to use a keyboard for any sort of input where a high level of accuracy is required. Whereas a speech-to-text software connected microphone or some other system would be far more efficient in those categories for them.

All this to say that no, simply because one person replies to your post with a keyboard adds not one shred of validity to the vast over-generalization that "the keyboard is the most efficient input device we have".

I shall also now further assert to, in addition to disproving your central claim by counterexample, to have also disproved your ending statement (also by counterexample), by first, disproving your absurdly general central claim, and second, having done so using a keyboard as the input system for my response.

For a certain kind of user computer UI really peaked during the CLI age. Reading text and typing on a keyboard is the fastest way to get data into and out of computers.

Are there certain requirements to get an account beyond just having 25k/year to pay for it? Let's say I wanted to get myself this Terminal and money wasn't an issue, would I be able to get one or are there other requirements?

Nope. Pay the money and get your terminal.

You need:

* money to pay for it

* a physical address to ship it to

* not be in a country sanctioned by the US (i'm just assuming)

a bloomberg terminal isn't a physical terminal. it just runs on your PC

You need the keyboard and/or B-Unit for second factor authentication. Licenses are for a single person only and not transferable (there are machine-based licenses but those are increasingly rare).

So you need a shipping address.

Don’t a lot of places have a communal / semi-public Terminal? Obviously not for trading, but for information, like a library computer.

Yes, those run on terminal based licenses. Bloomberg still sells those but you need to tell your sells rep exactly why you want one and don't get all features (e.g. IB). They are not very keen on selling those.

I should have specified that you need a shipping address for the ubiquitous keyboard

For an experienced user the keyboard is superfluous and only useful because it has an integrated fingerprint reader for the 2FA - so you don't have to faff around with their flaky "b-unit" hardware token.

(But yes, you at least need a b-unit to get started.)

Based on the "no other requirements" of the other comments, I ÷12'd out of curiosity: $2083/month, or (÷365) $68/day.

Not even are there no further requirements, it's also one of the very few products where you as a single user will pay about the same as a bank licensing several thousand terminals. I don't know of any other product that doesn't come with meaningful volume discounts no matter what volume you order.

Can’t wait for some UI/UX people redesigning the UI with a “modern” look....

They tried, it failed. They did a big redesign about 10 years ago to allow accessing functions also by search. So now you don't have to know codes anymore, it's just faster. But other attempts to redesign have been rolled back or never made it past testing stage.

Which doesn't mean it hasn't changed. A lot of elements see minor improvements over the years. Also, a terminal with enough elements open easily takes up 16GB memory, something that wouldn't have been possible 10 years ago. Bloomberg was the reason we had to equip all machines with at least 32GB to run smoothly.

That gave me idea for luxury high income people social network, call it “luxuria”.

Only by invitation, no free email provider to signup, $999 monthly fee and credit score check upon registration with minimum 801 score to get accepted. After that enjoy unlimited access to social feed of your fellow high profile millionaires. :)

Just a month after the App Store launched, someone sold a $999 "I am Rich" app: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_Rich

This exists, though not exactly as you describe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASmallWorld

What happens when a Bloomberg user moves to a different firm? Can they bring their Bloomberg ID with them?

I was pretty upset when I went from [initial][surname] to [initial][surname]1 after changing jobs.

Getting [initial][surname] is pretty impressive. My first ID was [initial][surname]7.

My surname is incredibly rare (to the extent i'm probably the only one thats used Bloomberg) and my initial is 1-2% in the regions where the surname is found!

No you can't. It's linked to the firm that pays for the subscription. Your bloomberg chat and models can have proprietary info that isn't brought to the new firm and your new ID.

That's not really that important. What is important is that they have an ID, at all.

> they consider having a Bloomberg Terminal a mark of status

I think this is starting to change. I'm a Bloomberg user and I'm lower status than some of the non-Bloomberg users, such as high level software developers, at my firm.

That is true, but it also misses the point. Even if there is a lot of personal pride in having a Bloomberg terminal, firms would put an end on that in no time if it was not in their best interest. The fact is that Bloomberg has created the perfect legal extortion tool with the terminal. They created a software company that is at the same time a media conglomerate. Every financial company in Wall Street wants to be on the good side of Bloomberg and receive positive or at least non-negative coverage. One way of keeping this going is having a large number of terminals installed.

You're claiming Bloomberg provides better, more positive coverage for their customers with more terminals. I'm very skeptical of your claim, as people would start discounting Bloomberg if they did so, but I suppose it's at least technically possible. So, do you have any evidence to back up this claim ? It wouldn't be that difficult to study the correlation, given that the terminals have been used for long enough time.

That doesn’t even make sense. Many financial companies give no fucks about press coverage (e.g. hedge funds, wealth funds, etc) and still pay.

Is this thing extendable? I.E. are there tools built around it helping cool kids do even cooler stuff or game the system?

I got the impression that it should be vulnerable to microsoft’s EEE.

I used to have a terminal and still work with some of Bloomberg's data products. A big part of their value proposition isn't so much the functionality of the terminal (though it's really extensive, and they keep adding stuff over time) but the breadth of data you can get through it. Not all of it is easily available and/or indexed elsewhere – I've heard Bloomberg literally has teams of people that hand-enter some of the more esoteric stuff. They also do things like create/maintain their own synthetic bond indexes fed from proprietary valuation models. Would take a ton of time/money to EEE all that.

And yeah, it's actually pretty extensible. There's a mechanism to create apps for the terminal, though I never really used those. Bloomberg will also sell you a programmatically-accessible data feed of pretty much anything they have, although those can cost well into six figures annually.

Thanks, very interesting stuff indeed.

> it should be vulnerable to microsoft’s EEE

It Microsoft Teams is any indicator, I can tell you right now that Microsoft is absolutely unable to disrupt and takeover any well-built product. Teams is the worst Slack ripoff I've ever used. Whatever advantage I gain from being able to chat in real-time is lost by constantly fighting with the tool, the notification noise and the fear of missing something in all that noise and terrible UI, not to mention the slowness when switching screens.

If their attempt at EEE'ing the Terminal is similar then Bloomberg has absolutely nothing to worry about.

It doesn't have to be MS who EEE's the Bloomberg terminal, does it?

It's extendable, and Bloomberg programming APIs and its Excel API are both heavily used.

The reason why it won't be extinguished is that it combines the UI/API (which is not great) with market data feeds that are hard to replicate (because parts of it are scraped from bloomberg messages or only available on bloomberg), the instant messaging and chatrooms that also benefit from the moat of network effects, as well as a news service and macro data/company events/balance sheet data that integrate with each other and the market data feeds.

You could replace the news service and balance sheet data and some of the data feeds with Reuters Eikon, and the instant chat with Symphony - but they are both subpar products with even weaker UI than Bloomberg.

An interesting side-effect of the social network aspect of Bloomberg is that a lot of middle office employees need to have Bloomberg accounts as well (at least on the sell side) in order to communicate with their clients (they are basically paying 25k/person for a glorified chat app). That was a big driver for the Symphony project (a consortium of sell-side banks getting together and building a federated slack clone).

> those folks are messaging each other with their Bloomberg IDs, so they know with each message who's in and who's out.

This kind of reminds me of network engineers repping their ISP's AS numbers on conference badges and jackets and swag. If you're not one of the persons with full admin access on the core routers of your AS, you're not part of the inner circle.

Bloomberg terminal is the worst form of financial software except for all those others that have been tried.

Or Word, or Windows, or Salesforce, or Zoom, or....

This is true. Abhorrent at first, then becomes second nature.

>Bloomberg introduced one of the first, and certainly the longest-lasting, social networks when it debuted in 1981.

Email is definitely an older electronic social network, only preceded by the telephone, postal mail, and face to face socialization.

> but the customer service is incredible. If it breaks or doesn’t do something you need, the company is willing to fix it or build it.

At $20k+ per annum cost I wouldn't expect anything less. That said we Europeans have been asking for non American date format support for years but it's a won't fix. So I guess the fee still isn't large enough.

A big complaint I have is why can't I keep the data I download off the terminal for an exchange if I'm already paying the exchange fees in addition to bloomberg's annual fee? It's like renting data. Also it makes it difficult to switch to a competing product.

Another mild annoyance is the left field approach their reps have about the tech that is visible when they make their regular visits to your office. Your company might have invested in developing data screens ,(outside of Bloomberg) and some months later those views mysteriously become available as new functionality for all users. It's even worse if you use their API; eg, you might write a private back-testing indicator specific to your market and within a day or two it appears in their public indicator list.

> At $20k+ per annum cost I wouldn't expect anything less

You’d be surprised. Contrasting e.g. PitchBook, Reuter’s and Bloomberg, the latter’s <HELP><HELP> is like magic. They’ll happily step into your shoes and turn around quality work product for you. And on more than one occasion, they used feedback to add features to a screen.

I've always found that HELP HELP is super fast and efficient for power user advice like "how do I price this type of bond" but utterly worthless for "how do I use this API" type queries.

It feels like there's some heavy gatekeeping that stops people from accessing the devs.

I interviewed to be one of those customer support agents many moons ago and I think the reason is that the agents at the other end of HELP HELP aren't technical themselves. When I was looking into it they would hire any fresh college grad who seemed smart enough to learn the product features. Programming skills were explicitly not required so I'm not surprised that they couldn't help with programming questions.

I am one of the devs at Bloomberg, and I'm quite glad not to be accessed by random customers ;-)

the market data fees are crazy. But it might be either bloombergs agreement with the exchange or your agreement with BBG. If you have direct agreements with the exchanges normally you can do as you need with the data following that agreement. Anyway B-PIPE is their main market data offering and is super expensive (3-5 terminals?)

They are very good having the reps take your ideas and sell them to you. I don't like how the reps swarm you and try to sit all day next to you watching what you are doing.

Also I have live tick by tick fx, interest rates and bond prices in the bloomberg terminal. But I have to go to yahoo finance for live equity prices...

Surely not? You can decide what exchanges you want to pay for.

FICC prices are also not quite that easy, there's a number there but what it means varies according to how you're configured. Things like the closing time and what sources go into the rate make a difference.

I spent a lot of time talking to bbg about what all the settings were.

As an example of what exchanges charge for licensing the data (not including a feed for the data, just a licence to use it) I have to pay £18k/year just for a London Stock Exchange licence. Then I have to pay for the feed.

Charging for access to the data feed seems fair enough, but licensing the data? For a company that has a monopoly over what I consider public data £18k is outrageous.

yeah you can pay for some additional feeds. But my point is that the base terminal that costs $20,000 a year doesn't come with the sort of live equity feeds that you find for free on google or yahoo finance.

The exchanges make huge amounts of money off live price feeds. Wrongly IMO, but that's another tangent.

Basically there's no way they would let a player like Bloomberg forward that kind of data to their users without getting paid a lot. In fact if you work in HFT you might have heard of something called a non-display fee which is a kind of ransom money they make that kind of firm pay.

Consumers like the ones who look at finance websites are probably not people they care to market to. Hence someone like investing.com can cut a deal to show live prices. They're not depth and pretty slow in any case.

But basically Bloomberg do not own the equity prices, the exchanges do.

I've been waiting 15 years for litigation in this arena. If prices, like player statistics from an NHL game, are historical facts which can not be copyrighted, why don't we have better and cheaper public market data API's by now? How have the exchanges been able to maintain a stranglehold over distribution of historical facts?

Their regulator(s) support them selling it. And they can easily cut anyone off for re-distributing it (in addition to any legal remedy they may attempt).

> And they can easily cut anyone off for re-distributing it (in addition to any legal remedy they may attempt).

AFAIK that's what grsecurity does. They distribute linux patches, which aren't copyrightable because they're GPL. To prevent anyone from distributing their patches openly (and putting them out of business), they have a clause in their contracts saying that if you distribute their patches, they'll terminate your subscription.

Are the feeds on Yahoo and Google actually up to date? I was pretty sure Google was on a long (like >1m) delay.

Investing.com is live. But also most (all?) of retail brokerages are live.

Looks like my retail brokerage didn’t get the memo. I get 15 minutes delayed data unless I subscribe to the exchange AND OPRA on top of my trading and holding fee.

European here, American date format is better.

American here. It sucks. ISO dates are the best solution.

I mean ISO. It's lexicographically ordered. And gets more detailed / fine-grained reading left to right. (Year-month-day). I like those features.

American here, and ISO is better than the common American format, though US military date style is also better than the more common American format, and maybe better than ISO for some uses.

I mean ISO. It's lexicographically ordered. And gets more detailed / fine-grained reading left to right. (Year-month-day). I like those features.

> US military date style

That's basically the European format.

Different European here, the american date format makes absolutely no sense to me and I've lived in america for the last 6 years.

I mean ISO. It's lexicographically ordered. And gets more detailed / fine-grained reading left to right. (Year-month-day). I like those features.

I mean ISO. It's lexicographically ordered. And gets more detailed / fine-grained reading left to right. (Year-month-day). I like those features.

In everyday business, when dealing with dates, the month is usually what you care about most, followed by the day, and then the year (which is often redundant or implicit).

Thus, month/date/years is more "ergonomic" or "user friendly," if one is equally used to either format.

A similar example is time. The hour is usually what you care about most, followed by the minutes, with seconds most often being irrelevant. Fortunately, that's how everyone writes time.

In everyday business, I would generally start with the day and then follow with the month if it's relevant (often it's not, if talking about a date in the near future), and finally by year if needed. I can't imagine when I'd start with the month, really, but that might be because in Finnish you'd almost always say and write dates with the day first.

As far as date formats go, apart from the ISO format, "21 Jul 2020" is definitely my favorite and always unambiguous. The only downside is that it's language dependent.

I mean ISO. It's lexicographically ordered. And gets more detailed / fine-grained reading left to right. (Year-month-day). I like those features.

The article doesn't mention what I think is the terminals greatest strengths.

1) Emsx, this is a network that every sell side client is on that allows you to trade equities. This means that once 2 guys have a terminal they can trade through anyone that will talk to them.

2) Research tools, every broker has their research setup to be received through the terminal. Research providers can perms ion entire firms or single individuals for their research so no in house tools are needed.

3) user profiles. When you leave your current firm for another one you can keep your bloomberg profile(models, settings, research entitlements, etc). Given how often people move around between firms this makes the terminal very sticky. Without being able to keep your profile and data people would be far less likely to invest in using the terminal

4) They have "compliance tools" that every financial firm is required to have by law.

Need email,IB conversation, even slack archived? They have BVault.

Need real time monitoring of employee chats? They can do that

MIFD 2 regulations? They can help you manage your research to stay compliant.

Need basic portfolio risk reports run? They have PORT<GO> to make compliance happy.

Around 1990 I worked for a company called equinet that was basically the "Bloomberg of Australia".

At the time, the Australian stock exchange (ASX) ran its own sharemarket information service called "Jecnet". It was serial dumb terminals connected over phone lines back to an HP minicomputer/mainframe in Sydney. It was extremely popular amongst professional trading houses and institutional investors.

And the stock exchange decided to get out of the market providing information services, so they announced they were shutting down Jecnet.

So all the stockbrokers and institutional investors around Australia who used Jecnet - and there were alot - were going to lose their service. They would all be forced to move to a new system, away from the one they knew well.

And this guy turned up at equinet - I think he had previously worked for the ASX.

What he had done, is written a DOS Modula2 application which was:

-- a little server application which ran on an 80486DX2

-- it listened on a serial port to the ASX price feed which came in at 9600BPS

-- it had a serial controller card installed with 16 serial ports attached

-- it cached the ASX price feed

And here's the kicker - it pretty much exactly replicated the Jecnet functionality and user interface. (that's my recollection anyway)

So what this guy had done is effectively replace the HP minicomputer with a drop in distributed async server that cloned Jecnet.

So equinet bought/licensed this from him and went to all those Jecnet terminal subscribers and said "you don't need to lose Jecnet, we'll just switch the serial connection from the ASX to us". Brilliant success.

And in time many of those terminal users were transitioned to the much more powerful equinet Windows sharemarket information system.

But it was incredible at the time to see this guy essentially replace the entire functionality of the HP minicomputer system with this thing written to run on a 486.

That almost sounds like a domain-specific variant of QDOS->MS-DOS (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/86-DOS).

Is there anything more out there I can read about the history?

>> Is there anything more out there I can read about the history?

What history are you interested in? I don't think anyone would have written anything about equinet - it was alot of fun to work at - a true technology startup before startups were called startups. Founded by a visionary genius called Peter Dunai. equinet wrote what must have been some of the very first Windows applications. I joined the company in 1987 and they had already written equinet for Windows then so it must have been Windows 1 or Windows 2. Peter Dunai backed Windows when the rest of the industry was still thinking the future was OS/2. Some of the smartest programmers I've ever met worked there.

equinet eventually merged with Bridge Information Systems - an American company. Or maybe it was Knight Ridder. Can't quite remember. The founder of equinet went on to found Iress which became the largest sharemarket information systems company in Australia and spread internationally.

The guy who wrote the software described above was John Cameron - a really nice guy who appears to have gone on to be extremely successful in financial trading software. http://www.marketswiki.com/wiki/John_Cameron

>>That almost sounds like a domain-specific variant of QDOS->MS-DOS (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/86-DOS).

It was just a straight MSDOS application. I can't recall which flavor of Modula2 he wrote it with.

It must have been some pretty tight coding though because it had to run its end user application code and service the serial terminals and not miss inbound characters on a serial port.

Thanks for replying, and for the overview!

It sounds like the early environment had that developer/engineer-driven quality to it that makes building awesome tech rewarding, and that the operations were managed by competence that was able to sustain that virtuous cycle. Both incredibly rare finds (particularly nowadays....)

Wow, Googling Equinet returns 92 results (hehe probably 94 in a day or so ;) ). I thought I'd heard of them before. IRESS is very interesting, TIL about that.

I get the impression Mr Cameron knew what was happening with Jecnet, knew he could replace it, knew that the result would very successfully be bought/licensed, and went to down... very nice. (Just turned up https://www.afr.com/politics/replacement-for-troubled-jecnet..., possibly not directly relevant)

Regarding QDOS->MS-DOS, apologies for the unclarified obscurity: QDOS, or 86-DOS, was sold for $50k to Microsoft, which turned the product into MS-DOS and made the company. The Equinet situation sounded similar to the MS-DOS/Microsoft success. (Until two paragraphs ago I thought Equinet was still a still-extant major company; I think my brain might've been conflating "Equifax" and something else ending in "-net", or maybe my brain just filed the name away a very long time ago)

I do agree that not dropping characters from 16 users (plus a firehose) was pretty impressive on a... 25MHz? 33MHz? 486DX2. (Haha, how much RAM did it have...) I'm not too familiar with Modula-2 but poking around a couple of PDFs of different Modula-2 systems suggested they supported ISRs (interrupt service routines), so perhaps those were used for character buffering. (Or, likely, had to be used.) Now I'm idly curious: sure, the serial link was 9600 baud, but how fast did the feed run? 500b/s? 1KB/s? 100 lines/sec? (It would be interesting to know the average data rate of a major stock ticker in 1990!) Chances are this is a bit tricky to answer nowadays.

As an aside, it would be very neat if those early pre-Win3.x versions of Equinet for Windows were to ever fall off the back of a truck. They'd probably be as unusable as CompuServe clients, but still interesting from a historical standpoint, especially if they launch at all (there are people digging Win1.x/2.x-era apps off of floppy disks (and frequenting sites like winworldpc.com and vogons.org), and while I only poke around occasionally I've never seen any discussion of anything like this, ever, and I presume there is no knowledge it existed. Hence the historical interest perspective). Quite likely it's one of those "...uhhhhhh..." sorts of things though; and maybe others have been similarly curious before me as well.

that's awesome

I have a slightly broader perspective on BBG than most, I think. Firstly, I traded across a load of asset classes. Secondly, I used the APIs to both stream live data and download historical data.

What I seem to see in the comments is that "X is their killer app". But actually you'll find they have loads of X, Y and Z apps. You just think that it's X because most people are in a particular product.

The breadth is quite amazing. No matter what I was trading, BBG had a foot in the door. Want equity analyst data? Check. Want to look at OTC bonds from various banks? Check. CDS indices? Yep. CDS single name? Yep. Want a swaption calculator? Yep, even got vol surfaces for that. What about FX exotics? Sure. Just about anything I touched, BBG would have data or calculators for. Sometimes you found the data might be a bit sparse, but they'd have some upsell for you if you liked.

As for the APIs, there is a lot of digging if you're going to use the data for anything. Finding out exactly how some data column is collected is hard work, they don't make it easy to ask. You do have the upside that almost all data is collected the same way, so you don't spend a lot of time writing several download APIs.

There's also a lot of settings that affect the data that aren't obvious. Well perhaps it's in the documentation somewhere but it definitely helps to have someone around who has seen the quirks.

Speaking of this breadth, a few years ago I looked at Bloomberg's PORT suite of portfolio performance attribution and risk management functions to see what they offered and how programmable it was. On top of the usual extensive help docs, they had 56 white papers totaling ~1400 pages (as of June 2017) explaining the calculations.

Their excel plugins were pretty quirky too.

> what they often miss is that Bloomberg is a great business because it has low churn, and it has low churn because its IM function is basically an exclusive club of approximately 325,000 people whose employers think they are worth at least $25,000 per year above their base salary.

This is the key insight. They create exclusivity through their high price.

And Facebook was once Literally Harvard.

The article misses two major points.

The social network is not nearly as valuable as the article makes out. It is only valuable insofar as the big banks are willing to trust you. If Societe Generale, UBS, Merus Capital, BNP Paribas, Bank of America, BlackRock, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, and JP Morgan all are a little skittish about Bloomberg controlling the platform, they can go somewhere else and tell the traders they have to use it.


The real killer app for Bloomberg is mortgage backed securities. It is data intensive, it is analytically complex and the second largest asset class, with 9 trillion outstanding, and you simply cannot trade them without a Bloomberg terminal.

Symphony is an internal chat, just like Slack. It must provide more controls for very large corporations and store messages forever for financial regulations.

I've seen it rolled out in a large bank to every single employee overnight. The numbers given the article seems underestimated and are certainly misleading without context. It's an enterprise software onboarding 50k users at once, nothing like the usual valley startup.

I’ve not used Symphony for a year or so but it felt like the kind of thing my team could have built in a couple of months. I wouldn’t use it in the same sentence as Bloomberg, other than to say Bloomberg has nothing to worry about.

I think Symphony is terrible, and it does look like something one could code up in a weekend. But ...

Bloomberg News famously abused the trust of the banks:


If the banks mandate that their traders use something else, they will. I don't think they're quite there yet, but Bloomberg is not all powerful.

Agreed, it's irrelevant with Bloomberg.

However it's a good story of making software in a very crowded domain and getting large enterprise customers right away nonetheless. Symphony is certainly is a catastrophe for Slack, a last minute competitor capturing all of the big financial firms.

> The real killer app for Bloomberg is mortgage backed securities

I guarantee you that 98% of the users paying loadsamoney for Bloomberg have never and will never trade or analyse MBSs.

I agree with you on the IM - it's one of the lock-in factors but would have been killed by Symphony if it were even close to the largest one.

Mortgage-backed securities seem like a bad bet right now. Unless you're betting against them, anyway.

There are no bad securities; only bad prices.

It appears the Fed will not let any asset class go under regardless of how many trillions they have to throw at it.

> Bloomberg is one of the best software companies in history

If you were a developer working with their API based feeds you wouldn't be saying that

> the user interface on the Bloomberg Terminal isn’t great, but the customer service is incredible. If it breaks or doesn’t do something you need, the company is willing to fix it or build it.

In other words the best from the customer's perspective.

So far as UI quality goes, I put stability (rarely changes) and consistency/predictability (clicking this may take a bit without feedback that anything’s happening, which isn’t great, but it always gives a result, even if it’s just an error, so long as the button made its little “I’ve been clicked” animation, and if it didn’t do that, the click 100% for sure did not register) over everything else. IDK if this product has those qualities, but I’d take those over something the devs/UX/designers are always fiddling with in the name of “usability” any day.

It’s largely keyboard driven. There is very little fluff. The keybindings and UI haven’t changed for decades.

I loved it, and I’m on the younger side of finance workers. It looks serious and feels serious and is blazing fast.

If someone “modernised” the UI, they’d likely lose their multi-millionaire customers who appear just to have it for vanity’s sake. The UX is a gating mechanism that enhances the network’s value.

So vim but for finance?

I love this

The UI is blazingly fast and largely driven by keyboard and the quick box. There is not much clicking

From the point-of-view of a developer working there, in practice this means that if something breaks in an application I'm responsible for, e.g. when the markets open in Tokyo, which is 5am my time, the company can and will phone me and expect me to log in right away and do whatever it takes to fix the problem :-)

I fully appreciate your comment, however, from experience, a "successful" software company doesn't necessarily have great APIs. That's only the tip of the iceberg.

There are many other parameters that define a successful company. And I'd even dare to say that most of these companies are not particularly great at designing APIs [0].

[0]: https://www.oracle.com/middleware/technologies/api-manager.h...

Are you talking from a bit of usability or reliability?

Their usability model is based a bit in the past, I agree. It can be a little convoluted and seems oldschool.

However reliability (which obviously matters the most) is the most rock solid API you can ask for. Compare it to anything else on the market. Their nearest competitor Reuters is kind of a joke compared to Bloomberg. Reuters is easier to use but it's not 100% reliable. Markets can stop streaming you data and you have no way of knowing etc.

Bloomberg is SOLID and you get what you pay for.

couldn't that be said about every financial instrument ever, solely due to complexity and crust built over time/changing regulations?

I think this is only surprising for some people because the tech growth-adoption mentality of the last couple of decades needed and benefited from UI that became increasingly optimized for 'ease of use', for 'everyone', for universality.

But bloomberg terminals do not need to be massively adopted. You don't need more (less specialized) terminal operators. That market/user-base didn't need to grow as much as excel users, browser user or CRM users.

As we reach peak digital tools/process adoptions I expect more and more specialized tools that don't try to be 'easy to use' first.

In looking for more screenshots I found this amusingly blunt article:


> Simplifying the interface of the terminal would not be accepted by most users because, as ethnographic studies show, they take pride on manipulating Bloomberg's current "complex" interface. The pain inflicted by blatant UI flaws such as black background color and yellow and orange text is strangely transformed into the rewarding experience of feeling and looking like a hard-core professional.

Relevant to the conversation here are all the old comments on Hacker News about prior articles on the Bloomberg terminal, like "Ask HN: What's so great about the Bloomberg Terminal" [1]

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13736009

If designers tried to design Bloomberg Terminal today, it would be a bloated javascript app that takes way too fucking long, the information density would be 1/10th of what you can fit on a screen, giant fonts, unnecessary animations and stripe-like-polish, large buttons, scroll jacking and hiding most important controls unless you hover the mouse over a region (read: undiscoverable), and it would have gradients somewhere with a sticky top menu.

We've totally regressed. We've lost it. We've become enamored with aesthetics.

Btw, it would also be available as an electron app on Mac, Windows and Linux platforms. And it will automatically update behind the scenes, who gives a fuck about your ability to control updates for a $25k/year business critical software.

> Dating sites, for example, are unstable because the most attractive prospects pair off, lowering the quality of the remaining user base until the site can’t recruit new users.

I chuckled at this line.

Why? The reasoning seems fine to me.

Exactly. The accuracy made me laugh.

My company effectively (yet loosely) competes with BBG in a small insignificant corner of the fixed income universe (asset backed securities).

My observations:

1- BBG is now part of a banks (and most large trading firms) infrastructure. BBG vCons are the standard way to confirm trades, its chat is one of three tools approved by banks, it has all the APIs to monitor every piece of communication, etc

2- BBG has proprietary data sets no one can get or on terms no one else will ever receive (Eg CUSIP).

3- I think that if the CUSIP license were more open and affordable, we would see many more competitive products. Instead S&P effectively has a monopoly. CUSIPS are the foundation of any alternative. The reality is you need many millions to get that feed and must charge hundreds to each customer. Few can do that

4- I think the idea of BBG as a social network is way over valued. It’s convenient yes but if you have inventory other people want in fixed income you’ll get the look. Every trader I know uses telephone and Outlook. It’s a moat but not the biggest in my opinion.

5- BBG does A LOT. I believe that a given user typically uses some small fraction of a % of functionality (like 2-3%), eg Chat + news + 2-3 pages. I think if one were to compete against Bloomberg, one would have to focus on not being everything (like Money.net or Eikon which isn’t working) but isolating key verticals and building a comprehensive alternative for that space. Going up against all tools everywhere globally feels like a fools errand.

For example, there is a site called Artemis for catastrophe bonds. Everyone serious in that market I’m sure has a BBG terminal and yet everyone also actively visits the site which is run by one guy.

I agree on the key verticals approach as being the best bet. Perhaps the best way to dip your cup into the raging river of Bloomberg cash flow is to take a page out of the Stripe/Twilio book and focus on API first, with phenomenal Excel and Python interfaces, docs and examples. Just forget about a terminal-like UI, or any UI at all and build the tools that make it easier for other people to build their own niche apps. Money.net, Sentieo, YCharts, Koyfin -- my observation is that these all treat the programmability of their data and analytics as a secondary focus, or not a focus at all. It would be nice to see someone come along and do it the other way round.

CUSIPs/ISINs aren't owned by BBG. They have their own open source symbology.


regarding 3:

Do you think that there is a possibility to transition across to ISIN, SEDOL, VALOR, etc.? Or will we be locked into CUSIPs for the forseeable future?

regarding 5:

Would you be more specific about how Eikon 'isn't working?'

Thank you for the informative post : )

Re: #3 Doubtful IMO. I personally believe that ISINs are the most viable alternative (and far less expensive to license). The issue is that you will have to get the industry (or perhaps just JPM/BOA/CITI in the US) to stop quoting and executing everything with CUSIPS... I think the best fix here is a legislative one personally. CUSIPS along with all corresponding identifying data on a security should be public domain in my opinion.

#5 I probably shouldn’t have said that, at this point my anecdotal observation on it is too dated. At the time I worked in banking and evaluated it for our team it did a lot but not enough, was pretty but challenging to figure out and everything was being “worked on”. Everyone I knew either had BBG or FactSet.

Bloomberg is successful because they are a monopoly supplier of valuable information, and that's the whole story.

Their software is a shitshow, for developers and end users. Their data curation is often lacklustre. But none of that matters.

The article made it fairly clear this is not the case (i.e. a status symbol, an exclusive social network)

This is 100% my experience too.

There's an app called Symphony which is trying (with some success) to take over the chat aspect from Bloomberg. Their killer feature is privacy - not from your institution's compliance dept, but from Bloomberg. Bloomberg's journalists could snoop traders activity on the platform. Understandably banks and traders hate that and so have funded and pushed Symphony instead.

Not only that, but banks would no longer have to get BBG accounts for their middle office to be able to communicate with clients (cutting out a huge cost - basically a 25k/person cost for a chat app).

Another reason is it takes months of negotiations and 5 figure $$ sums per month to get leased lines in to the various exchange networks across the globe. Every exchange also has its own protocol, or variation of a common protocol, connectivity quirks, market model, data quality and normalisation issues etc. etc. Maintaining all this is expensive.

Market data is an expensive game to get in to.

I worked for Bloomberg for five years and Twilio for four. They're very similar in that regard.

A missing piece of this article is a discussion of Bloomberg’s more or less successful competitors today: Refinitiv, Factset, Alphasense, CapIQ, Tradeweb, MarketAxxess, Enverus

What is a Bloomberg terminal made of? A windows exe and a keyboard? I thought it was the whole machine?

Bloomberg terminal is no longer a physical thing (except for a custom keyboard with integrated fingerprint reader and function keys) and runs on generic Windows.

They used to be custom machines. Now they are just what you say, software and a keyboard.

Worked with Bloomberg for years. Its not a software company. That is like calling the DTC or NYSE a software company. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depository_Trust_%26_Clearing_...

1) Its a bit of a cult with its crazy NYC main office

2) Culture is very sales driven (a bit like Oracle) and up or out hiring policies. Smart pricing - like MS Office. They know who and how to charge (for example giving free FIX connections etc). I once had a rep break down crying asking for another terminal subscription otherwise she was going to be fired.

3) The terminal is a bit like vim. Once you memorize the keystrokes you can do anything.

4) Cool biometric 2FA technology with the card

5) A lot of what they have is done better by other companies except the sales and the bundling.

Bloomberg moats: chat, media (breaking news, economic announcements with low latency), Excel and API integrations, UI buy-in (whereby a terrible interface with a moderately steep learning curve becomes the reason people enjoy it)

So I once interviewed at Bloomberg for a frontend engineer role that I believe would have involved working with the BB terminal UI.

During the interview, I was told that the modern UI development was done in JavaScript using a proprietary framework. Found that interesting to say the least.

I got rejected because I couldn't do some fancy binary tree algorithm trick, but I walked out of the interview thinking I didn't want the job anyways as I am not fond of proprietary frameworks (short of working at a FAANG level company anyways... I would consider BB highly prestigious, but still not at that level...)

Bloomberg did a milkround at my university about 10 years ago - showing off their new terminal. I noticed it looked like it was running on Windows with their terminal GUI implemented using standard Win32 hWnds and GDI painting (you can tell by how text and shapes are rendered - and how it couldn’t seem to smoothly animate above 30fps) - and the built-in newsviewer was playing a video using the Windows Media Player ActiveX control.

So if they have switched to Electron - at least that will hopefully deliver a better UX - it’s not like users are meant to run other programs on those things (I think?) so they don’t care about Chromium’s memory usage.

I don't think it was Electron or even anything based on Chromium - I could be wrong, my memory is fuzzy. But I think they said it was a custom implementation that predated Electron. Don't quote me on that though. Obviously someone that actually works there would know best.

Another financial firm I interviewed at - Tradeweb, also had something similar. Custom implementation, not Electron, but in their case, yes Chromium.

We very much do care about Chromium's memory usage. Chrome RAM memes exist for a reason :)

This thread talks about their implementation: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10197197

For equities an Interactive brokers setup with a few hundred dollars for additional feeds replicates 90 percent of Bloomberg functionality at 2% of the annual expense. For fixed income you are SOL without a Bloomberg. Among other things, good luck getting basic bond runs. And while you can build out tooling to do fixed income analytics on your own it is cumbersome and will require a lot of manual data gathering/input making it hard to rapidly compare securities.

For Equities I am not sure IB supports multiple prime brokers or has as good borrow and lend capabilities as the big brokers do. Also it doesn't have access to institutional algos offered by the big brokers.

The big Prime desks support BB as well as Fidessa and other systems.

I'm curious, do those terminal actually plug on regular internet?

Yes, it is just a regular computer running Bloomberg software. It is tightly locked down, you can't set it up to remote desktop into one.

> It is tightly locked down, you can't set it up to remote desktop into one.

That's not exactly right.

There are two flavours of the terminal.

Anywhere, locked to a user via biometric login but can be installed on multiple machines, though running only on on e at a time.

Open Terminal, locked to a machine but anyone can log into it.

Its true that the open terminal wont' allow you to RDP into it, but bloomberg anywhere will let you rdp into a machine running it. I do that daily when working from home.

Essentially you can access BBG Anywhere without any hardware or BBG software, through a Citrix connection: https://bba.bloomberg.net/?utm_source=bloomberg-menu&utm_med...

Why not? How can it tell if you're remoteing? I though I've seen people use Bloomberg software over RDP and AWS Workspaces on Windows.

Bloomberg did regularly audit our Open Terminal. If you fall foul of their license agreement, you will have to pay up.

That's B-PIPE. You can get Bloomberg Market Data Feed via that. It's also a pre-built solution. You are not exactly connecting to your own computer/terminal

Not true, I have been accessing remotely my BB Terminal since 2012. It's just an application that runs on any windows machine.

One thing I didn’t see anyone mention is availability of data. We used Bloomberg terminal subscriptions and eventually paid of B-Pipe to integrate into our real-time pricing despite the api being absolutely horrendous and costing nearly $100k/month it was still our cheapest option given we would have to integrate with multiple other providers at lower but really high rates that added up to cost greater than b-pipe.

Financial data is kind of a racket.

Have their been any open source attempts to make a Bloomberg Terminal-like tool using freely available APIs (such as https://iexcloud.io) and/or scraped data sources? It wouldn't have to be "real-time", but I think it could be interesting to have a similarly-styled, keyboard-centric "Finance & News" dashboard.

There is a lot of trading chatter on Discord. Predominantly the younger and more tech savvy investors (or should I call them traders?).

They are also much lower in quality than conversations in Bloomberg.

any specific examples of such places?

How is Eikon doing?

It's just so slow, and things that I was able to figure out using Bloomberg's autocomplete I'm regularly at a loss for using Eikon.

The transition of the fundamental data towards being refinitiv branded is also very uncomfortable.

It is amazing how slow the data item browser in Eikon is as compared to FLDS. Also, something as simple as HP is hidden in the chart view in Eikon...


No longer Reuters, they spun off into a new org called Refinitv and are currently executing a merger with the London Stock Exchange.

Thanks for the info!

...I always wondered if the Eicon company that produced good ISDN cards, was somehow affiliated. Maybe they produced them to provide good uplinks for the Eicon platform.

Edit: Nope. No connection. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eicon

Back in the days I wish I could afford one, just to read news for fun, but alas it is too expensive for personal enjoyment.

My local public library has one, you might be able to find access through a community college.

Which municipality?

New York Public Library provides access at their Business Center [1] curious if other public libraries have something similar.

[1]: https://www.nypl.org/collections/articles-databases/bloomber...

The Boston Public Library does.

What does a decentralized Bloomberg terminal look like?

I was hoping this would be by Byrne Hobart! If you haven't checked it out, he writes daily at diff.substack.com and is up there with Ben Thompson and Matt Levine in terms of quality.

A Bloomberg for crypto would make a killing.

They have the command CRYP<GO>.

You can query real time feeds for instruments like BTC, ETH and LTC.

They have consolidated data feeds from about 8 exchanges.

I never ever even heard of this one :) The article doesn't really explain what it is, but it sounds like a super expensive IM for financial elites?

But I don't work in the financial sector. I'd never want to either. But interesting to know it exists.

PS: A CLI/Curses interface sounds amazing to me though! :D


It's a terminal for access to market data and also has chat integrated into it. You can also trade on it if you want.

$25k/year to be among an elite community of traders and investors even though the experts struggle to beat the market. Does not sound so good. You can get all the other stuff for free using thinkorswim and other services. Anything Bloomberg provides can be done for free or with much cheaper services. Reddit's Wallstreetbets is free to join and it seems people there have a knack for beating the market and knowing what to buy before it becomes really big. They have been bullish on tesla and amazon for a long time. Like any community, part of the challenge is filtering out the noise from the signal.

People on r/wallstreetbets don't have a knack for it, that's just what they want you to think. If you took gave 1000 monkeys RobinHood and let them trade whatever they wanted, a few would be incredibly successful for a few days.

On r/wallstreetbets, you're only seeing the few who are randomly successful for short amounts of time because they are upvoted and the rest are lost in the crowd.

Whether or not skill exists in the context of investing and trading is a hotly debated topic in economics and finance. Some say it does not exist after adjusting for various factors. I think there are some individuals (such as Jim Simons) who demonstrate skill that cannot be explained-away by chance alone. By following such individuals, you can possibly gain an edge.

>On r/wallstreetbets, you're only seeing the few who are randomly successful for short amounts of time because they are upvoted and the rest are lost in the crowd.

That may be true but that does not mean there isn't a pattern. if they are all making fortunes with Tesla and Amazon, maybe that is an indication to be long Tesla and Amazon, although not necessarily with risky options though. Just buying the stock is fine. The monkey analogy implies no pattern.

> Anything Bloomberg provides can be done for free or with much cheaper services.

You may think that is true for stocks. I don't, but for the sake of argument I'll concede it. But Bloomberg has never been focused on equities. For fixed income trading, it's a necessity.

> even though the experts struggle to beat the market

Most Bloomberg Terminal users today are traders at the big investment banks. They don't try to beat the market, they make money on fees and through market making, which is Millions (tens or hundreds) per year, so $25k per employee is a small cost for them to keep doing that.

> You can get all the other stuff for free using thinkorswim and other services

I highly doubt this. Bloomberg is not about the services but about the data: the breadth and depth of it. They have been collecting data since the 1980s, which is like dinosaur era for finance. It doesn't matter what services they provide, it matters they have data! Your are missing the most important point of what makes Bloomberg useful as a vendor.

> Reddit's Wallstreetbets is free to join and it seems people there have a knack for beating the market and knowing what to buy before it becomes really big

At this point I am starting to think this post is some low quality bait, you are young/naive, or simply too arrogant.

> They have been bullish on tesla and amazon for a long time

Great! Did you buy any Tesla or amazon when it was cheap ? Good for you.

> Like any community, part of the challenge is filtering out the noise from the signal.

Blanket statement which tells you what you need to do without saying how. "The only rule of making money is to not lose money". Such wow. You can do better than this :P

I expect a downvote, but maybe this time I was constructive enough not to get one, lets see if hacker news will disappoint me again!

For someone like ray dalio, the fee is nothing. But for a much smaller firm, the $25k/year for just a single unit is not insignificant. The raw historical quote data can be purchased from the exchanges and ued any way you like instead of only being restricted to the terminal. There are many firms that sell such data.

>"The only rule of making money is to not lose money".

Buffett's number one rule is not to lose money. Sometimes pithy quotes hold lot of wisdom.

>Great! Did you buy any Tesla or amazon when it was cheap ? Good for you.

yeah i got in on those many years ago

> For someone like ray dalio, the fee is nothing. But for a much smaller firm, the $25k/year for just a single unit is not insignificant. The raw historical quote data can be purchased from the exchanges and ued any way you like instead of only being restricted to the terminal. There are many firms that sell such data.

Of course. It's just that I believe that unless you are willing to pay >= $100k for a developer's salary you can't do the same as the terminal. If you have a budget for a dev then by all means get the data yourself and do your own stuff ;)

> Buffett's number one rule is not to lose money. Sometimes pithy quotes hold lot of wisdom.

I'm glad his wisdom helps you. I think it's a marketing slogan since to me it conveys no information, or no more than stating the desired outcome without giving you an idea of how to do it, which is not useful.

Also, I did get a downvote for expressing an opinion! Only a few more and I'll be out of this platform ;)

> For someone like ray dalio, the fee is nothing. But for a much smaller firm, the $25k/year for just a single unit is not insignificant.

That's why hedge funds who actively trade bonds are far fewer than those who trade equities. I can start a stock fund with a phone and a laptop. I can't start a bond fund without paying for Bloomberg.

Given 300,000+ active subscriptions and low churn, the better follow-up to “this doesn’t seem worth it” is “what value do others see that I’m missing?”

It sounds like fraternities for rich finance guys but virtual. Some club with a steep entrance fee and status signaling that exists mostly to enrich the members.

Nonsense. It's just a data subscription service. Are you speaking from experience or you are just trying to virtue signal ?

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