Aiming to tap into financial services expertise outside of its own development team, Bloomberg LP has launched the Bloomberg App Portal, a platform that allows software companies, financial firms, universities and other developers to distribute their applications for use along with the Bloomberg Professional Service.
"We don't have a monopoly on innovation and there are others in the industry with great ideas and content," said Claudio Storelli, global business manager and head of the Bloomberg App Portal team, in an interview with Wall Street & Technology. "We have opened up the platform for third-party developers so they can work with our terminal and bring value added content to our clients."
In the same way that other app portals, such as Apple's iPhone App Store, changed the landscape for developers, Bloomberg hopes its portal will open up the financial app market to smaller, innovative developers.
[For more coverage of how Bloomberg LP is expanding its product lines, read Bloomberg's Vault Cloud Service Goes Local].
Storelli says the app portal could change the world of financial apps in the same way that the gaming market was revolutionized by smaller app developers. "For years in the gaming space, there were a few large companies and there was no room for smaller competitors," he says. "Now there are blockbuster video games developed by smaller companies and individuals. You will have the same thing in the financial world. For instance, if you have two great minds at MIT, they can partner with a developer and they will be able to distribute their product."
"Software developers with a great idea, but limited global reach, can work with Bloomberg to get in front of financial professionals around the world virtually overnight," said Stanley Young, CEO of Bloomberg's Enterprise Products and Solutions business, in a statement. "Our intention is to complement Bloomberg's existing functionality with third-party applications that enable our clients to achieve success."
Currently, there are 46 tools in the app portal. "There should be more than 50 by the end of the year," Storelli said, adding that there are more than 200 developers working in the portal right now. The 45 applications available on the portal include tools that provide data analysis, news and research, portfolio management and risk analysis, valuation and pricing, data visualization and technical analysis. Institutional clients can also use the Bloomberg App Portal to deploy proprietary software tools to their own employees and clients.
At this point, Bloomberg is not allowing applications with "execution functionality" to be deployed on the portal. "We don't do any black box apps, or algo apps, or automated trading, or apps that have an execution component," Storelli said. However, apps with execution functionality are something that Bloomberg might consider in the future, "but it is too early to tell," he added, noting that an additional level of regulatory compliance is required for applications with that type of functionality.
In order to make sure that the third-party apps integrate with the Bloomberg Professional Service, also known as the Bloomberg Terminal, Storelli says that his team works with developers to make applications work well with the Terminal. "We focus on the quality of the IP," he said. "We do a thorough review of the quality of content and we vet the idea for the app before it goes through development."
Bloomberg reviews each app idea before it allows the developer to go through the development cycle to avoid duplication of effort. For instance, the Bloomberg Professional Service already offers over 30,000 functions and developers may not know that the functionality they are proposing already exists. "We don't want people to waste a lot of time and money working on an app, and then we have to say no," Storelli says. "We know the functionality and characteristics of Bloomberg Professional." The Bloomberg App Portal content team will review all applications and will help developers connect to Bloomberg APIs. "We provide dedicated support and the business team can help refine the application. We act as a shoulder the developers can lean on for support," he adds.
Much like the Apple App Store takes a 30% cut of the sale price, so will Bloomberg, although applications in the Bloomberg App Portal will likely cost considerably more than the popular $0.99 apps on Apple's platform, according to Storelli. "We don't charge any large up front fees, so we are not creating any barriers to entry," Storelli says. "We also don't interfere with their pricing decisions. We want this to be a set of tools where great IT developers provide content." Bloomberg will take a 30% royalty share, which allows Bloombeg to maintain the resources it has dedicated to the portal, Storelli adds. Some applications will be priced at several hundred dollars per month, per user, he estimates.
"Cultivating the third-party developer community is critical to enhancing the user experience and growing the value of the Bloomberg Professional service," said Tom Secunda, co-founder and Global Head of Bloomberg's Financial Products and Services group, in a statement. "The Bloomberg App Portal extends our commitment to embrace innovation and fuel creativity in the financial marketplace."