Bloomberg Terminal: the Ultimate Software-as-a-Service

Thursday January 12th 2023 by SocraticDev

In technology, one can either innovate or imitate others.

Bloomberg Terminal: tens of thousands of dollars per month per user

This "software as a service" (SaaS) enjoys undeniable success despite the fact that it is neither "user friendly" nor highly polished. Above all, it does not promise a superior user experience (UX) despite its sky-high price.

Sold at a high price since the early 1980s, the Bloomberg Terminal is a resounding commercial success.

I believe that every technologist should familiarize themselves with this product in order to acquire a more accurate vision of the ingredients necessary for a tech product commercial success.

Bloomberg terminals are one of the main product offerings from Bloomberg L.P. They are one of the most heavily used and highly regarded professional investment systems to be created for the financial marketplace. Institutional investors are the typical customers of this product since the relatively high ongoing cost makes it unfeasible for individual investors with relatively small amounts of capital to purchase.

The system provides news, price quotes, and messaging across its proprietary secure network. It is well-known among the financial community for its black interface, which is not optimized for user experience but has become a recognizable trait of the service. It's not uncommon to see Bloomberg's rather bland visuals carried into their television station, although they round their media empire out with visually rich content in their flagship magazine Bloomberg Businessweek. .

Investopedia, "What Is a Bloomberg Terminal? Functions, Costs, and Alternatives",

value in tech

From an economic point of view, the ultimate objective of the technologist is to create value for the customer for whom a product or service is intended.

The subjective theory of value is an economic theory which proposes the idea that the value of any good is not determined by the utility value of the object, nor by the cumulative value of components or labour needed to produce or manufacture it, but instead is determined by the individuals or entities who are buying or selling the object in question. This trend is often seen in collectable items such as cars, vinyl records, and comic books. The value of an object may have increased substantially since its creation or original purchase due to age, a personal affinity, or scarcity.

Wikipedia, "Subjective theory of value",

In crude terms, we say that value is what makes the user willing to pay to use a service or product.

SaaS - Software as a Service

The "on demand" software model combines the interests of software developers and their end-users.

A customer agrees to pay for their software as long as it brings them value. Otherwise the deal is off.

The "SaaS" model associated with cloud computing democratizes the market for ambitious solo developers. More and more small teams of developers, even solo developers, go a part of the business, and market products of high quality.

Cloud computing and SaaS model democratize access to tech market.

how can Bloomberg inspire ambitious developers?

I believe that the notion of value is at the heart of the lesson we must draw from success of the Bloomberg terminal.

Michael Bloomberg started the project following his dismissal from his employer. Armed with a solid knowledge of the financial sector, he invested his savings in the development of softwared catering to the financial world.

In 1981, Michael Bloomberg was fired from Salomon Brothers. He was given no severance package, but owned $10 million worth of equity as a partner at the firm. Using this money, Bloomberg, having designed in-house computerized financial systems for Salomon, set up a data services company named Innovative Market Systems (IMS) based on his belief that Wall Street would pay a premium for high-quality business information, delivered instantaneously on computer terminals in a variety of usable formats. The company sold customized computer terminals that delivered real-time market data, financial calculations and other analytics to Wall Street firms. At first, the machine was called the Market Master terminal, but later became known as the Bloomberg Terminal or simply "The Bloomberg". The terminal was released to market in December 1982. Merrill Lynch became the company's first customer, purchasing a 30% stake in IMS for $30 million in exchange for a five-year restriction on marketing the terminals to Merrill Lynch's competitors. In 1984, Merrill Lynch released IMS from the restriction.

Wikipedia, "Bloomberg Terminal",


By way of conclusion, I will absolutely not be original. I repeat here what any pragmatic technologist already know.

The moral of the Bloomberg Terminal's success is that business domain knowledge is crucial for the success of any technology project.

Technical skills are less and less crucial to the success of a technology project.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Most computer problems have already been resolved. There are countless reusable code libraries that one can leverage. Architectural patterns that hold water are taught to budding system architects. Cloud providers offer turnkey development platforms allowing us to deploy a new project in production in a short time.

In technology, one can either innovate or imitate others.

No one has ever been fired for imitating others.

translation from french by google translate