Monday, October 24, 2016 Hires Former Bloomberg Honcho to Take On Bloomberg Terminals With Machine-Generated News Bulletins and Stories

From the New York Times' DealBook, Oct. 17:

Start-Up Taking Aim at Bloomberg Terminals Hires Former Bloomberg Head
A start-up looking to take on the financial information behemoth Bloomberg L.P. is hiring a former Bloomberg executive to begin a new financial news service.

Norman Pearlstine, a former top editor at Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal and Time, is joining, which has been building a low-cost alternative to the data terminals that sit at the core of Michael R. Bloomberg’s business empire.

Mr. Pearlstine is tasked with building a news feed for that will be based on machine-generated news bulletins and stories. He will be hiring journalists to help guide the computers and potentially supplement them with reporting — part of a broader move toward the automation of journalism.

“I think I know what the customer is looking for, and I think I know where smart developers and journalists working together can add value,” Mr. Pearlstine said in an interview. “My bias is toward not spending a lot of time duplicating things that everybody else is doing — trying to think about what timely, usable information is for a professional investor.”

Mr. Pearlstine was the chief content officer at Bloomberg until 2013, shortly before Mr. Bloomberg ended his final term as New York City’s mayor and rejoined the company he founded in the 1980s. Mr. Pearlstine is currently the vice chairman of Time Inc. and will remain in that role. was founded by another former top executive at Bloomberg, Morgan Downey, who got to know Mr. Pearlstine when they were both at the company.

Mr. Downey has been outspoken about his belief that can win over Bloomberg customers who are unhappy with the high price of the terminals, which generally cost around $21,000 a year. A subscription costs about $1,500 annually.

Mr. Downey said that now had about 50,000 paying subscribers, up from fewer than 10,000 a year ago. Over the same time period, the number of Bloomberg subscribers has remained steady at around 325,000.

Mr. Downey has been trying to capitalize on the fact that revenue is down in the financial industry, leading many banks and asset managers to look for lower-cost service providers.

“The industry is at this inflection point,” he said. “They know that the ecosystem of Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters can’t continue.”

A Bloomberg spokesman said the company had no comment on Mr. Pearlstine’s hiring. began as a platform for basic financial data, but Mr. Downey has been trying to add tools that can compete with other parts of the Bloomberg terminal.

Recently, announced a partnership with the Wall Street messaging service Symphony, which is mostly owned by a consortium of banks. Symphony has been described as an effort by the banks to create an alternative to Bloomberg’s messaging system, which is often cited as a main reason to have the terminals....MORE