This is a true story. I couldn’t believe it happened but it really happened. Dates are sketchy but it happened in March or April of 2013. All names used in this story were generated from a fake name generator.
Me: “Hey dude if this is going to be a test login, then lets have a few giggles with the name on the account. Wouldn’t it be hilarious to see Ron Burgundy coming over your Bloomberg?” Bloomberg Rep: “It would!”
And with that statement the email@example.com address was born. It’s true! There was a Ron Burgundy profile on Bloomberg for about 45 days.
In 2013 the Bloomberg Trade Order Management System (TOMS) administrator was a thankless job that required a general knowledge of Bloomberg, a general knowledge of your clearing system and a general knowledge of all of the fixed income Alternative Trading Systems. The only time that an admin was known within a firm was when the firm database was setup, a new user came aboard and when TOMS went down. (God I will never forget the moaning of users during my days at Bloomberg when TOMS or the terminal went down) Someone needs to fix this ASAP!……I am going to throw this terminal out the window if it doesn’t work in the next ten minutes!…..oh god nooooo!…my trade is gone! it is gone! nooooo!
From 2000 to 2010, I was part of a team of a small team based in San Francisco that either sold, trained or maintained all of the TOMS accounts west of the Mississippi river for Bloomberg L.P.. I left Bloomberg SF in 2010 to head back to Dallas for a position as VP of Fixed Income E-trading. In March of 2013, I agreed to move over to a firm that wanted to start a fixed income desk. I assumed the role of the Bloomberg TOMS admin while also holding a sales position for e-trades and voice trades. We were a small group that knew we had to be efficient in order to make a profit.
Usually the Bloomberg TOMS Admin accounts are setup with an account name like TOMS ADMIN or PX999 ADMIN but this account was due to expire after one month so I didn’t think twice about the implications. Bloomberg was kind enough to give me a four week test admin account to setup the TOMS database after a commitment of a few hundred grand on terminals and TOMS over a two year period.
During the month of March of 2013, I was building out all of the electronic trading connectivity and straight thru processing on Bloomberg TOMS/ETOMS for my new firm. Setting up a new fixed income desk was not easy and I had a month to do the following:
1.setup connectivity to a clearing firm
2.sign contracts with TMC, Bondpoint, Tradeweb
3.setup FIX connectivity with all 3 ATS’s and ALLQ
4.build out a TOMS database with naming conventions specific for the clearing firm
5.populate all DTC eligible dealers in the TOMS counter-party database
I would have never met my deadline without the help of the representatives from Bloomberg L.P.. We were on the phone from 7 in the morning till 6 in the evening testing connectivity. It was dull work and I needed an edge to get anyone’s attention. The Ron Burgundy account became an amazing attention grabber because each time I sent an initial instant message a popup would launch on the recipients side.
The responses were always priceless: “Baxter is that you?!” “Hello neighbor” “Broesph!”
I kept saying to myself that this is a creative tactic that is actually working.
By late March the Ron Burgundy profile was only used for connectivity testing, database setup and test trades. I would login to the Ron Burgundy account in the morning check connectivity and enter a few test trades. Then I would logoff and login to my personal account. I would toggle between the two accounts during the course of the day. My eyes had to be on my personal Bloomberg email inbox (also known as the MSG<GO> function) and incoming IB’s. Ron’s MSG<GO> and IB chat were always empty.
It was a Friday morning in early April when something unusual happened. As I performed my usual task of logging into the Ron Burgundy account, I knew immediately that something was off. The MSG notification told me that I had +100 missed messages and IB chat requests were popping up by the second on one of my screens. Then I saw the Bloomberg function that showed the most hit profiles on Bloomberg for the day and Ron Burgandy was trending. Bloomberg users from Moscow, Copenhagen and London were sending IB’s to the Ron Burgundy profile.
In my mind there was only one option. I had just put this tiny little firm in Dallas on the map and spent 0 dollars on advertising. I couldn’t let these potential customers down, I had to answer every single incoming chat as if I was Ron Burgundy.
If I had a bottle of scotch I would have poured a tall glass but I had a decent sized cup of coffee that kept me buzzing. My plan was simple, respond as best i could and have digital screenplay of Anchorman for quickly finding a response by a keyword search. It escalated quickly….I clicked on the first IB and I didn’t stop for 3 hours. These are not exact conversations but they are close enough.
The Bloomberg BIO or profile department probably became aware that a fake Ron Burgundy profile was on the network when Ron Burgundy trended above Vladimir Putin and made it to the top 10 hit profiles for the day. However, they had a problem. They had to verify the account by phone and I was only responding to the incoming Burgundy IB’s. Around mid morning, a colleague of mine yelled out “Shelburne, Bloomberg is on the phone and it sounds urgent.” “Are you Ron Burgundy?” said the woman from Bloomberg. “Yes and No…..you see we setup an alias account for testing purposes but never expected it to go viral” I replied “Since this is not a real profile and we have verified that your not real, we are taking Ron Burgundy profile off the BIO<GO> function” she snarled. “Fine with me. Sorry for the inconvenience. It was fun while it lasted.” I said as I hung up the phone.
What frustrates me when I look back on the story is that I had ZERO analytics to track all of the traffic and profile hits for the Ron Burgundy account. I could see that the profile was hit by over 900 users but who were these users.
CatFIX Technology wants to help fixed income market participants build tools that provide metrics for customer traffic. The CatFIX philosophy is that fixed income market participants need metrics to help gauge where, when and how to send THEIR USER GENERATED CONTENT. If your interested, shoot me a message at shelburne@catfixtechnology or firstname.lastname@example.org!