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The Goldman Sachs-backed 'Bloomberg killer' has 116,000 customers a year after launch

The Goldman Sachs-backed 'Bloomberg killer' has 116,000 customers a year after launch

Symphony CEO David Gurle


Symphony CEO David Gurle.

Symphony, a secure messaging platform backed by Google and some of the world's biggest banks and touted as a potential "Bloomberg killer," has released user numbers and announced two major new features a year after launch.

The Silicon Valley-based company announced on Thursday that it now has 116,000 paying customers across 104 different firms, a year after launching its product.

It has 19,7000 customers from buy-side firms such as asset managers and 86,866 subscribers on the sell-side, from banks.

For comparison, Bloomberg has been around for 25 years and has 325,000 subscribers globally. Symphony has made serious headway.

It costs $15 per month per user and is a platform rather than a financial data-provider itself. Users gain access to the system for much less than a Bloomberg subscription and can plug in different sources of data.

CEO David Gurle told Business Insider: "We see the beginning of network effect, I think that's the very important thing for us. That's the main focus for the organisation."

Alongside the user numbers, Symphony on Thursday announced:

  • Symphony meetings: A secure and compliant rival to Google Hangouts that lets finance professionals chat over video and audio channels online.
  • Webhooks API: A capability that lets other company's build their services into the Symphony platform., Github, JIRA, Trello, and Zapier have already build apps on the platform.

CEO David Gurle told Business Insider: "These applications are what I would call deeply integrated, they go beyond what I would call simple notifications. The notification is formatted properly so you don't need to go elsewhere to see what it's about, you can also interact with the notification without leaving the chart that you're working on."

Gurle also shared details of Symphony's expansion plans for the next year. He said: "In the second half of next year we're going to enhance our platform with further collaboration capabilities and those capabilities will enable customers to use just one inbox as opposed to multiple inboxes that they currently use for all their different communication feeds.

"And then we'll start bringing natural language processing towards the end of these 12 months so that it becomes a contextual intelligence engine. As you and I are communicating around a particular instrument or piece of content, the contextual engine will bring the relevant data to our conversation so that we don't have to leave that conversation."

Gurle added that Symphony will soon launch its own app store to let users install and buy third-party plug-ins.

Symphony replicates the chat application found in Bloomberg, one of the service's most popular features, and combines it with elements of social media - users have walls where they can post their thoughts and you can search for hashtags used in these posts, as well as on Twitter.

S&P Symphony


An example Symphony screen.

The platform also integrates with financial data providers, trading tools, and all manner of other things to replicate the Bloomberg or Reuters desktop experience.

The project was spearheaded by Goldman Sachs, which led a coalition of investment banks in buying chat app Perzo for $66 million (£42.2 million) last October.

Goldman hatched plans to create the project in the wake of the Bloomberg snooping scandal of 2013, according to the FT, when it emerged that Bloomberg reporters were monitoring the terminals of users in investment banks.

Gurle has insisted that Symphony is not a "Bloomberg killer," despite a strong media narrative. He says the company is gunning for email instead.

But Symphony has ruffled enough feathers that Bloomberg is apparently lobbying against the company in Europe, according to Politco. Labour MEP Anneliese Dodds has called for tighter regulation of the platform.

Gurle was diplomatic on the issue, answering cautiously: "If the piece is indeed true I think it demonstrates that we've certainly got the attention of the market players and we have the opportunity to provide an alternative market communication tool. We've had a number of communications with a number of regulators."

Gurle pointed to his role as an advisor to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, adding: "Overall, if Bloomberg has done anything it has just validated the strength of our platform and the alternative we are providing."

Gurle was also on message when it came to Michael Bloomberg himself, saying: "Michael Bloomberg is someone I have a deep admiration of for what he has done as an entrepreneur, as a Mayor, and as a person for his own charitable foundation. I hope one day to have the honour to meet him."

Symphony has raised over $160 million (£126.5 million) from Google as well as a consortium of banks and bluechip financial institutions that includes Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, JPMorgan, Citi, HSBC, and Bank of America.

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