An interesting conversation this morning: Paul Kedrosky, an ideas blogger who speaks stock-market, trying to talk to Jim Cramer about ideas, but getting answers overwhelmingly about stocks. Cramer’s not stupid: he said right at the beginning that his "perspective is entirely upgrade/downgrade, which is very short-sighted". But he’s trapped in that mindset, and it was incredibly difficult for Kedrosky to ask him a question without getting a stock pick as an answer.
Still, it did happen once, when Kedrosky said the magic word "Bloomberg". Cramer went off on a tear:
In a world where quant data matters, could there be a more indispensible product than Bloomberg? Proprietary data is Bloomberg’s.
Dow Jones could have done it, said Cramer, but didn’t. In reality, whenever there’s a buzz in the market (foreclosures, the international exposure of US companies, you name it), two days later there’s a Bloomberg function for it. Every day they have thousands of engineers whose job is to make everyone’s job easier. And for that reason, said Cramer, Bloomberg is the one company which is well placed to overcome the commoditization of information and data which is characterizing the evolution of the internet.
All I could think was that some things never change. Back in 1995, when I first started writing about the internet, I phoned Mike Bloomberg and asked him exactly Kedrosky’s question: how would his company survive in a world where information was free online? And he gave me exactly Cramer’s answer: by being more client-focused and responsive and invaluable. The really impressive thing is that his plan worked, probably better than even he could ever have imagined.