Billed by some as the “Bloomberg Terminal Killer,” messaging and content platform Symphony Communication Services had its official launch in New York today.
The company and its eponymous product, created by serial entrepreneur and technology expert David Gurle, is scarcely out of startup mode, but already it’s making waves as a potentially disrupting new force on Wall Street, thanks in large part to support from some of the world’s largest investment banks.
Symphony’s founder and chief executive, was on hand in Manhattan to announce his company’s first official day out of test mode. So too was a powerful lineup of partner companies who will be providing content and related services to the new trading communications platform.
“We are at the beginning of a new era in which ‘search’ will be turned upside down,” Gurle said during the morning event. “Today in the universe of search, you type what you are looking for, tomorrow as we talk about something, you will see the relevant things come to what we talk about.”
With that in mind, Gurle announced that Symphony would partner with Dow Jones, which will push 10,000 stories a day to the platform. Similarly, McGraw-Hill Financial will provide company-specific information through its Capital IQ product. And start-up Selerity, of New York, will provide its data analytics tool to push personalized information to traders.
At launch, Symphony provides cloud-based secure messaging, content and information that’s relevant to making trading decisions, as well as the ability to create complex, interactive social networks on the trading floor. Though, the technology would be useful for just about any other business environment that requires timely information and collaboration.
The company has already attracted a list of 15 of the world’s leading investment banks, who have backed the company with $66 million in financing to date, while still in the testing stage. Chief among the banks are Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and asset management company BlackRock.
Symphony competes with other messaging apps out there for traders, including Thomson Reuters, whose product Eikon also contains messaging and content functions. Yahoo Messenger and AOL messenger have also had smaller parts to play here, as have some other startups, such as Markit, whose networking platform Symphony purchased last year.
But the 800-pound gorilla to contend with is Bloomberg, whose competing product is Instant Bloomberg, called colloquially the Chat. The Chat is pricey, however, with Bloomberg charging upwards of $20,000 annually for one if its terminals, through which the messaging function is accessed. Bloomberg’s clients exchange 200 million messages and engage in 15 to 20 million chats daily on its platform, Bloomberg said in an earlier email exchange with Inc.
By contrast, Symphony has a free product and charges between $15 and $30 per seat for enterprise users.
In July, Symphony hit something of a roadblock when it found itself under investigation by the New York State Department of Financial Services for offering services similar to those that were used in previous schemes involving interest rate and foreign exchange interest rate manipulation at banks.
On Monday, DFS announced it has struck a deal with Symphony and four of its largest bank clients--Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, and Bank of New York Mellon--on record keeping. As part of the deal, Symphony will retain for seven years a copy of all e-communications sent through its platforms to or from the four banks. The banks themselves will store duplicate copies of the decryption keys for their messages with “independent custodians,” who are not controlled by the bank.
Gurle, who has spent decades developing messaging platforms for Microsoft, Skype, and Thomson Reuters, merged a previous company called Perzo into the current concern.
“We have been working over a year to reach this milestone,” Gurle said. “And today we are here to launch Symphony for everybody.”