Long thought of as a company that serves the needs of Wall Street firms, Bloomberg L.P. is quietly becoming more like them, moving recently into businesses that have been the domain of the largest banks.
This relatively unheralded expansion by Bloomberg helps explain Wall Street's consternation at recent disclosures that some customer data was freely available to reporters and others inside the company. The fear inside banks is that Bloomberg could use that data not only to write negative news articles but also to compete directly.
In recent years, Bloomberg has offered new ways to trade stocks, bonds and more complicated financial products, potentially taking revenue from subscribers to the ubiquitous Bloomberg desktop terminals, which contain a vast store of market data. The expansion is even leading Bloomberg to offer traditional Wall Street services like wealth management and research.
"If you add all this stuff up together, they do look increasingly like a brokerage business," said Larry Tabb, founder of the consulting firm Tabb Group.
He said that Bloomberg was not yet a dominant force in these activities and had been careful to placate the concerns of subscribers. But, he said, "it makes some of these brokers think, are these guys friend or foe?"
Bloomberg says its trading operations are walled off from its data operations and asserts that it has won the trust of clients over the years. The company is eager to protect both its revenue and the wealth of Michael R. Bloomberg, which are still primarily generated by the terminals business.
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But the sources of revenue are changing.