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Refinitiv? How about Regurgitiv?

The comments attributed in The Baron to David Craig (future CEO of Refinitiv) on the launch tomorrow of Refinitiv and more recently to Robert Newnes-Smith (CTO for Digital and Employee Experience at Thomson Reuters) made me puke.

I have sought views from key Reuter individuals who launched the company into the computerised financial information market and they have ranged from guffaws to barely printable opinions. 

Let us start with Craig (see The Baron 13 September 2018). 

Dearest Craig,

What needs to be said is that this new “name” is the stupidest thing that you could have started your tenure as CEO with (tomorrow 1 October). How could your Blackstone and your Thomson Reuters bosses have allowed the Reuters name to disappear from financial news and data? As the first ever salesman to be recruited into Glen Renfrew’s Computer Division (and the first ever Reuters Marketing Manager in 85 Fleet Street, and subsequently the first ever Reuters International Marketing Manager in 2 Wall Street) I believe I may have some credible credentials to give you some advice and opinion on this.

Reuters (i.e. the Reuters name) got us into clients premises on first knock - everywhere. It was - and still deserves to be - the prime player in financial information. If it has been side-lined by recent ownerships, associations or managements, they have been shooting themselves in the foot. The name still commands the respect that it did when we knocked on doors. And with your new and ridiculous name you are shooting yourself in the other foot.

Let me suggest your first job as CEO on Monday: sack every member of the committee that proposed Refinitiv and appoint a new committee to come up with a new name for your outfit that contains Reuters in it, with the permission of Thomson Reuters (who must recognise that a prolongation of the name Reuters in the world of finance works to their advantage as well). Your sales and marketing staff will thank you for that - and you will prosper.

The logo. For this I turned to a world famous authority on the subject (who was actually involved with Alan Fletcher when he designed the logo for Reuters in 1965). His reply:  “… had I been on the approval panel, it would not have seen the light of day.” He made an additional comment on the graphic mark of the letter R. “…it may be trying to suggest an upward trend in finance but it seems to be going backwards - weird”. Or perhaps you could have had your Middle East market in mind (since Arabic is written from right to left) - in which case: Shukran, habibi.

Turning to Robert Newnes-Smith:

Dearest Newnes-Smith, 

Re the item in Diginomica dated 27 September 2018 and reported in The Baron labelled “Dreamforce 2018 - Thomson Reuters’ challenging journey from product-first to customer-first”. 

I have largely failed in trying to translate your article into English but I did catch a couple of sentences which I thought you deserve a reaction to.

So the focus throughout my career until the last few years and for the company had not been around the customer experience, but around the product itself because there’s a product that was selling itself essentially.”

Really? I don’t know if you ever heard of the Reuter Monitor, the product that launched Reuters to the top of the financial information market. If you have - and if you understand what this was all about - you would not have said that. The Reuter Monitor consisted of studying the client’s experience and working out a product around it. Ditto with subsequent dealing and trading systems. It was at first regarded with great anxiety and suspicion but, by working closely with trendsetters only (to start with), we made the rest of the herd come to us. I promise to read your complete - and long - piece again and will come back to you if it makes any greater sense to me than it does right now.

So, back to Mr Craig,

Let me conclude with a couple of the reactions from the key individuals that I consulted over your explanation of the background to choosing the Refinitiv name. 

The first one is from one of the star sales executives of that time. It is heartfelt, descriptive and delivered in Reuters-style sharpness and to the point:

“What a load of crap.”

And the second one is from an Oxford scholar who was one of the most successful area managers of the time:

The ghost of Baron Julius Reuter visited me in a dream last night and he muttered something along these lines:

“As you know, I’ve never been insensitive, negative, exploitive, or uncompetitive. Despite leaving Germany when I was 29, I was not a fugitive.

Before anyone heard of Blackstone, I was inquisitive, acquisitive, and, on occasion, brilliantly intuitive - possibly even precognitive.

When the occasion demanded, I was definitive, prohibitive, dispositive and punitive.

But today I am positive that there is nothing additive about this ugly mongrel confection. Refinitiv is vomitive.”

Then, tugging furiously at his whiskers, he disappeared.

Have a great day everyone. ■