Bloomberg Tests More Ways To Play With Its Data: Micrognosis, Applix Links


PAINEWEBBER Inc. will be the beta-test site for a Micrognosis Inc.-developed digital interface to the Bloomberg L.P. terminal service. The brokerage firm will receive the new software at its London trading operation in mid-December--in advance of what sources say will be general market availability early next year.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg's and Micrognosis' developers are working--both together and separately--to build interfaces with Applix Inc.'s Applix Real Time spreadsheet system. Bloomberg is interested in integrating Applix's product into the Bloomberg terminal; if successful, the effort will give Applix's real-time spreadsheet a major shot of buy-side and trading-room visibility--and an edge on its competitors in that marketplace. Officials at Applix, Bloomberg, Micrognosis and PaineWebber decline to comment or could not be reached by press time.

Other sources close to the project say that the new Micrognosis/Bloomberg interface would make Bloomberg data available for the first time to a user-sited digital data distribution system--though display would still be limited to Bloomberg-proprietary terminals.

The beta tests at PaineWebber will initially focus on making Bloomberg data available to specific user-provided analytic applications, including spreadsheets. At PaineWebber, sources say, test applications would be hosted by a wide range of trading desks. They say, however, that the exact terms of the beta haven't been set yet; the parties involved have merely agreed to conduct a full and thorough trial of the software.


As beta tests of the digital Bloomberg interface move forward, Bloomberg continues to stand firm on not allowing its data to be digitally delivered to non-proprietary hardware. However, one source close to the betas tantalizingly says that the vendor is still eager to look into the opposite approach: using the new interface to display other vendors' data on Bloomberg terminals.

However, sources say that the upcoming tests at PaineWebber will not involve linking a large number of Bloomberg terminals via user-provided digital data distribution networks-solely for the sake of facilitating distribution of the service around a trading floor without having to install a separate set of Bloomberg's cables.

Word of the impending PaineWebber digital-Bloomberg betas emerged following a conference for about 150 European financial I.T. managers held by Bloomberg in London last month. At that event, senior Bloomberg executive in charge of programming Tom Secunda spoke of Bloomberg's increasing willingness to make its data available to user applications.

According to sources in attendance, though he did not mention PaineWebber by name, Secunda did take note of the Micrognosis project. He also said that Bloomberg was working on integrating Applix's Applix Real Time spreadsheets into its standard terminal service. Applix recently won a deal to replace Lotus Development Corp. 1-2-3 spreadsheets--the real-time version of which is maintained by Market Arts Software Inc.--on 600 trader desktops at J.P. Morgan & Co. (Trading Systems Technology, Nov. 14).

The launch of the Bloomberg/Micrognosis interface is about three months behind schedule. Bloomberg's development deal with trading room system integrator Micrognosis was born last spring (Inside Market Data, April 11). At that time, sources said the new product was expected to emerge from development sometime during the following summer.

Micrognosis and Bloomberg struck their deal following the collapse of an earlier digital initiative between Bloomberg and system integrator Teknekron Software Systems Inc., a Micrognosis competitor (IMD, Nov. 22, 1993). The Teknekron deal fell through after Teknekron was acquired for $125 million by Bloomberg archrival Reuters and word emerged that Bloomberg would have nothing further to do with its erstwhile partner (IMT, Jan. 7).

As for PaineWebber and Micrognosis, that relationship has gone through a number vicissitudes over the past three years. The firm began its relationship with Micro as video-switch customer and first deployed Mips when that product was being marketed by FD Consulting Inc. When FD fell on fiscal hard times and sold its assets to Micrognosis, some sources speculated that Paine was ready to abandon the system--which, after all, it had only rolled out gradually, and in a limited fashion.

However, earlier this fall word emerged that the firm had opted to commit to deploy Mips to support up to 700 traders, its full complement (TST, Sept. 19). Subsequently, PaineWebber announced it planned to swallow up troubled Kidder Peabody & Co. (TST, Oct. 31). Because Kidder relies primarily on two video switching systems to supports its traders--numbering in excess of 500--the merger will likely position Micrognosis to reap well over 1,00 traders' worth of business at an as-yet-unformed PaineWebberKidder.

Micrognosis' burgeoning relationship with Bloomberg should go even farther toward cementing the system integrator's relationship with PaineWebber. At the same time, it serves to strengthen Paine's ties with Bloomberg; the brokerage opted to put its equity research on Bloomberg, and set up a soft-dollar brokerage arrangement with the vendor, a year ago (IMT, Oct. 15, 1993). That move was seen as a blow to research distribution market leader, Thomson Financial Services Inc.'s First Call Corp.

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