Dow Jones’s latest push to take Bloomberg head-on in the lucrative market for institutional trading terminals has gotten off to an underwhelming start.
Launched in August, DJX represents one of the biggest product overhauls for Dow Jones, not just since it was bought by News Corp in 2007, but arguably, in its 131-year history. The company that once made the ticker tape machines used on Wall Street to track prices in the pre-computer age lost ground to Bloomberg and Reuters in the 1990s, and DJX was meant to be its attempt to finally catch up.
But sources tell Quartz that the introduction of the new offering hasn’t gone smoothly. Morgan Stanley–one of Dow Jones’s biggest information-services clients by contract value—recently scaled back its business with Dow Jones significantly, while the new product also received a lukewarm response at other Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs (although negotiations between the bank and Dow Jones are ongoing).
DJX has been spearheaded by Dow Jones CEO and former Bloomberg Ventures boss Lex Fenwick. The web-based service combines all of Dow Jones’s newswires, its private equity and compliance databases, market data, and Factiva—which provides access to the news archives of a wide range of other publications—into a single platform. Subscribers also get market-moving headlines from the Wall Street Journal a few minutes ahead of non-subscribers. Previously, these and other Dow Jones services were sold separately for varying amounts. Customers could buy just the ones they wanted without having to spring for a full professional suite of market news and data.
But as Fenwick has explained, the old tiered-pricing model is no longer available. All firms are now charged the same amount:$249 a month or $399 month (depending upon the level of Factiva privileges) on a per-user, rather than firm-wide basis.
One investment banking source, who declined to be named because of confidentiality agreements between the two companies, said the new pricing model had led to a “significant increase” in the amount Dow Jones was seeking to charge its firm. ”The feeling is that the Dow Jones product is much more limited than Thomson Reuters or Bloomberg” this person said. “People are finding it hard to justify whether it’s worth it.” Another source, from an investment bank which does not subscribe to DJX but was recently pitched it, described the service as “half baked” and said Dow Jones “was not really coming to the game with a full product.”
“We do not comment on past or present client relationships,” a spokesperson for Dow Jones said.
It’s not hard to understand the reasoning behind the DJX overhaul. Bloomberg charges its 300,000-plus users around $20,000 a year for access to its platform, which is estimated to make up 85% of the company’s $7.9 billion in annual revenue. Despite these hefty prices, and a snooping scandal, Bloomberg remains, by some distance, the dominant player in the industry.
News Corp last month acknowledged the introduction of DJX had a “modest, negative impact” on its third-quarter revenue, which fell 3% to $2.07 billion from a year earlier (on a pro forma basis.)
“The problems at Dow Jones in the B2B business are certainly well-known,” CEO Robert Thomson said on the company’s last quarterly earnings call. ”It really goes back to that period of Telerate trauma where Dow Jones lost ground to its competitors, so this is a major restructuring of that business. The first iteration of DJX is just off the blocks, and so you’ll have to give the Dow Jones team and us a little while before we can give you an accurate read on its market penetration.”
Telerate was a major Dow Jones push to expand in financial information services in the 1980’s and 90’s. It didn’t end well. After the company had ploughed $1.6 billion into the business, it sold it for less than one-third as much.