Paging Bloomberg’s Winkler and Pearlstine
This story that ran in Saturday’s New York Times is the best one yet on the abuse of Bloomberg’s customers’ private information by Bloomberg, the financial information powerhouse founded by New York City’s mayor. As first reported in the New York Post last month, reporters at the Bloomberg news service made a practice of checking the customer service files of bankers and others subscribing to Bloomberg’s ubiquitous and extremely expensive – about $20,000 a year each – financial data information services.
For example, they reportedly figured out that the “London Whale,” who was involved in losing billions for JPMorgan Chase, had been fired by seeing that he had not been logging on to his Bloomberg account. (Bloomberg is a competitor of Thomson Reuters, which owns Reuters – where this column appears.)
Saturday’s Times story fills in the narrative of how various Bloomberg customers, led by Goldman Sachs, pooled their suspicions (mostly arising from Bloomberg reporters unabashedly citing log-on information when asking the banks’ spokespeople questions, such as the one about the Whale). They then realized that this was a regular practice and complained to Bloomberg Chief Executive Officer Dan Doctoroff. (New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially left the company when he took public office and has not been running his business day-to-day while he serves at City Hall.)
Doctoroff has apologized, saying the practice was a mistake. Some of the company’s major customers, like Goldman and JP Morgan, have at least publicly said they accept the apology. But this should hardly be the end of the story.