Tuesday, November 29, 2011

After its purchase of BNA, Bloomberg seeks "world domination" as information powerhouse

As we're previously reported (here and here), Bloomberg Law has been "lawyering up" for more than a year, becoming one of largest employers of attorneys in NYC, in an effort to compete with Wexis for the lucrative commercial legal research business. According to this report from the Daily Beast, its recent acquisition of BNA is further evidence of its intent to eventually become the leading purveyor of legal information services.

As most of the news industry withers, Bloomberg is booming. Terminal money, which accounts for 80 percent of revenue, has helped the company hire more reporters and editors than anyone else on the planet—more than 2,700 of them—over the last 20 years, from Abuja, Nigeria, to Zagreb, Croatia. More recently it has launched powerful new tools for lobbyists, lawmakers, and other power brokers. Long averse to acquisitions, Bloomberg has also started buying up things it covets, like Businessweek magazine and, just this August, the legal-political research behemoth BNA. There is talk that the Financial Times might be its next meal.

. . . .

When Bloomberg bought BNA for $990 million in August, most Americans had never heard of the Bureau of National Affairs or its 350 newsletters on topics like tax, health care, and labor. It doesn’t produce popular scoops—instead it churns out nuts-and-bolts information on things like an appeals-court judge’s ruling on a patent dispute; when the House Appropriations Committee will mark up an EPA funding bill; and how telecom giants will benefit from a moratorium on wireless taxes. Which means every lawyer, lobbyist, and law-maker in the capital depends on BNA’s proprietary data to do his or her job and gain an edge over competitors. From that angle, BNA is just the kind of company that Bloomberg— already a powerhouse among business insiders—could use to extend its power into new markets, in this case the “influencing community” inside the Beltway.

“It’s utterly logical,” says Steven Brill, the founder of Court TV and American Lawyer. “I lusted after BNA when I owned all my legal publications, because it’s very high-margin, high-priced, and specialized information.”

Hat tip to LegalResearchPlus.



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