Tags: Bloomberg | venture | capital | Beta

Bloomberg to Form Venture Capital Arm, Raising Reporting Ethics Questions

By    |   Wednesday, 05 June 2013 10:45 AM

Bloomberg L.P., the parent of Bloomberg News, is slated Wednesday to unveil Bloomberg Beta, a $75 million venture capital fund.

The fund already has started investing in start-ups such as Codecademy, an Internet site that provides online coding tutorials, and Newsle, an Internet service that lets users know about news relating to their friends, The New York Times reports.

But there is an ethical issue, the paper points out. Bloomberg Beta may be investing in some of the same companies that its reporters cover.

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“This puts Bloomberg News’s credibility at issue,” Edward Wasserman, dean of the journalism school at the University of California, Berkeley, tells The Times.

“Reporters will not only be held to standards of accuracy and the like, but scrutinized for evidence of self-dealing and self-interest, which can be toxic to a news organization.”

Bloomberg already is in trouble for its reporters' use of the company's terminals to glean private information about employees at Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms.

Wasserman wonders whether Bloomberg Beta’s access to technology executives might give Bloomberg reporters a leg up over competitors and whether tech start-ups might seek investments from Bloomberg Beta in hopes of flattering coverage from Bloomberg News.

However, Roy Bahat, the head of Bloomberg Beta, says the firm was set up as a separate legal entity.

“If an entrepreneur wants Bloomberg Beta’s money because they think they’ll have a higher chance of getting covered by a Bloomberg journalist, then they shouldn’t take our money,” Bahat tells The Times. “We were set up to have confidentiality protections, and we will only share when appropriate.”

And a Bloomberg News official tells The Times that the news service will follow its existing rules on conflicts of interest and when reporters cover companies in which Bloomberg has interests, they will be disclosed.

"The launch of Bloomberg Beta follows a trend of media and entertainment companies creating venture capital funds for investment in young, innovative companies," Ryan Lawler wrote on TechCrunch. That includes Conde Nast, Hearst and Time Warner.

"But unlike those companies, Bloomberg Beta is less interested in strategic investments and more interested in generating venture-type returns," he said.

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Bloomberg L.P., the parent of Bloomberg News, is slated Wednesday to unveil Bloomberg Beta, a $75 million venture capital fund.
Wednesday, 05 June 2013 10:45 AM
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