Reuters: stock drop re rumor of Y2K bug in its financial software : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Bugged by the net threat

REUTERS has a come a long way since moustachioed stringers filed copy by carrier pigeon from European war zones. Its money today comes from eye-poppingly complicated screen-based information to financial markets, including real-time prices and an internet-based market called Instinet.

Yesterday it might have wished that it could have stuck with the carrier pigeons. It made a routine presentation to analysts in New York, and the share price came down like a high bird. Market traders thought they detected a millennium bug in its foreign exchange system, and even the company's furious denials could not stop the plunge.

Douglas Atkin, chief executive of Instinet, admitted that volumes looked a little slow, but there was nothing to explain the 15pc fall in the price of one of the market's best-regarded stocks. Even if some of Reuters' customers get the millennium bug, it is not going to be fatal. Planes will not fall out of the sky, and the traffic lights will not get stuck on all-green, but we do love the frisson that talk of disaster brings, and nobody can be absolutely sure.

A far bigger threat to Reuters is the internet, which is increasingly providing free most of the services for which it currently charges thousands of pounds a month. Adapting to the online revolution will be as big a change for the company as abandoning the pigeons.

-- Old Git (, September 25, 1999

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