If you're in finance, you know the Bloomberg Terminal. How can't you? The dual flat-panel monitor, the throwback user interface, the distinct keyboard, the $25,000 price tag—these are the signs of an organization that's serious about finance, whether it's an investment bank or a publication such as Fortune.
But like any good business where competition is low and margins are high, it's only a matter of time before someone—usually a technology company—comes in to disrupt it.
That process is underway. Several companies are diligently working to break Bloomberg's grip on financial information, and a recent Dealbook article outlines a few of them.
There is Symphony, an upstart jointly owned by some of the world's biggest banks (such as Goldman Sachs), which next month expects to begin offering software to replace the communications system that traders use to talk to one another. (Fortune's Robert Hackett first profiled the company earlier this year.)
There is Money.net, a company led by a former top Bloomberg executive, Morgan Downey. It offers many similar services with a slicker UI in a less tethered format.
And of course there is Thomson Reuters, whose own 13-year-old messaging service has long been an alternative to Bloomberg's—so much so that many financial firms acknowledged paying for both of them in the wake of the 2013 "snooping scandal" in which Bloomberg journalists were found trawling the terminal for confidential information.
There's a lot at stake. The newer services cost a fraction—as much as one-twentieth—of Bloomberg's Terminal, propelled by the rise of cloud computing, mobile computing, and open-source software. On the other hand, they replace only a small slice of the Bloomberg package—one that has grown to include everything from market data and documentation to messaging and news.
Will the startups take down Bloomberg? My money says no—but they will contribute to a wave that will forever change the way the incumbent does business.
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And don't miss Reid Hoffman discussing fin-tech at this year's Brainstorm Tech conference: