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FX news: Google lays down challenge to Bloomberg with Brittan hire

Silvia Antonioli and Trevor Carr

Google Finance has hired the former global head of FX for Bloomberg, Philip Brittan, to lead its attempt to break the stranglehold on financial information by Reuters and Bloomberg. Google wants to develop a more competitive financial data and analytics provision model, according to market participants.

A spokesperson for Google confirmed to Euromoney that “Philip Brittan started to work for Google Finance March 15 as a product management director.”

Brittan was previously global business manager for FX and economics at Bloomberg.

A computer science graduate of Harvard, Brittan started his career in 1988 at Astrogamma as a programmer, rising to become the company’s CEO in 1993. He was instrumental in the development of Fenics, which became the benchmark application for currency option pricing at the time.

After the sale of Astrogamma in 1995, Brittan set up a number of successful software development companies before joining Bloomberg in 2004. Since then Bloomberg’s FX functionality has developed rapidly and the company now truly competes with Reuters in FX news and analytics.

A source at Bloomberg speculates that Brittan will attempt to replicate Bloomberg’s functionality at Google across all assets, not just FX: “The fact that Brittan moved to Google makes me think that Google Finance will try to replicate the Bloomberg business model by providing financial data, analytics and other services, but Google will make the information available to the public for free. Professional traders may still prefer to use more sophisticated systems, but there is no doubt that Google has the potential to win some market share”.

Google’s existing finance offering is not one professional traders find useful, but if hiring Brittan signals a more serious attitude, it could shake up the ruling duopoly.

“Google finance, which offers free financial data, could in the long run become a serious threat to the major subscription-based financial information providers such as Reuters and Bloomberg. This is an attack on the subscription-based business model,” the source concludes. 

FX comment: Google, too big to fail

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