Launched last year, the Palo Alto-based messaging service has previously received financing from Wall Street giants including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and BlackRock. Symphony hopes its communications software will compete with Bloomberg’s financial terminal business, by providing news and research from Dow Jones.
As Ron Miller wrote in an article about Symphony last February:
Last [year], these companies contributed $66M to finance Symphony, and using that money, purchased Perzo, a company that was building a secure communications platform. After the purchase, they named Perzo founder David Gurle as Symphony CEO.
Gurle, whose background comes right out of business software central casting with stints at Microsoft Lync, Skype and Thomson Reuters, would seem uniquely qualified to build such a product. Symphony’s backers have been using a variety of secure communications applications and content tools, but that fragmentation was becoming a huge problem.
They were looking to consolidate on a single, secure platform, and they created Symphony to replace many of the established players — whether that’s Microsoft Lync or AOL (TechCrunch’s parent company) or Yahoo! instant messaging in communications or Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg in financial content. The goal from the start has been to become the de facto tool for communicating, collaborating and sharing content in a financial services setting.
Symphony built a cloud communications service, which is compliant with FINRA and Sarbanes-Oxley, no easy task. Of course, you can have Slack-like conversations and create virtual discussion rooms, both public and private, but the trick is that there are special rules around who can talk to whom and the system has to respect the rules.
Users can also do things like follow certain subjects via a hashtag system, so they can easily track a particular industry within the platform by setting up a set of rules, allowing people to track content, conversations and public social chatter about subjects that matter to them.
The product is actually available for free for anyone who wants to use it as of last month, but if a company wants the all of the security and tracking ability, of course, they will need to buy the enterprise version.
It’s possible that Google sees the potential of this tool beyond the financial services industry and that’s why it’s investing in the company at this point. Secure communication with the ability to track content could have wide reaching use for both consumers and businesses alike and Google could want a piece of that action.
In July, the Wall Street Journal reported that Symphony was looking to raise funding at up to a $1 billion valuation.
Google did not respond to comment. Symphony declined to comment.