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Downey’s Money.net Takes FIA Innovator Award

Market data and information service looks to disrupt the Bloomberg and Reuters space with new ultra-low priced offering

The winner of the FIA’s first ever competition for Innovator of the Year at the 2016 Expo in Chicago was Money.net, which was chosen by a panel of industry experts from 18 finalist companies picked from a larger group of fintech applicants.

The company, started in 2014 by CEO Morgan Downey, aims to provide the same type of market information as Bloomberg and Reuters for 1/15 of the cost.

Money.net is trying to disrupt the market information space, which pulls in $26 billion in annual revenues and is dominated by the two superpowers, who together hold more than 80 percent of the market.

“There has been very little innovation in the past 25 years by those market information providers,” Downey said. “And the price of those products has become ridiculous. Bloomberg and Reuters charge $25,000 a year now.  We are under $2,000 a year.”

But they don’t just want to be a “cheap Bloomberg or Thomson Reuters.”  The company wants to be a better system and to keep innovating, which he says Bloomberg and Reuters can no longer do. He sees Bloomberg and Reuters as the Blackberry and Money.net as the iPhone.

Downey knows his competition well; he ran the Bloomberg commodities division before starting Money.net. He was a commodities trader before that, and has been working in finance his entire career. He is a citizen of both the U.S. and Ireland. The company also made recent news with the hiring of Norman Pearlstine, a former top editor at Bloomberg, to head up a new financial markets news service.

The company, based in New York, now has customers in 57 countries and is multi-asset class, covering equities, fixed-income, FX and commodities. It has partnered with Symphony, a messaging company backed by BlackRock, Bank of America, Citadel, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

“We provide breaking news, Squawk, all the information you would use to do your job if you are working on a trading floor at a bank or a hedge fund, or you’re an analyst or salesperson in investment banking, or if you are in corporate America as a treasurer. We now have thousands of customers, including several business schools,” Downey said.

Now, 60 percent of Money.net’s customers are in North America, 40 percent in the rest of world.

The contest was held “shark tank” style, where the candidates pitched to a panel of industry experts for five minutes, followed by eight minutes of Q&A. Part of the prize (valued at $20,000) is a booth at FIA Expo, so Money.net plans to be back in 2017 and 2018.

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Rudolph is managing editor of John Lothian News (JLN).