Goldman-backed 'Slack for finance' startup Symphony raises $63 million from BNP Paribas

Symphony CEO David GurleSymphonySymphony CEO David Gurle.

Symphony, the secure chat app backed by some of Wall Street’s biggest banks, has raised $US63 million (£48.8 million).

Palo Alto-based Symphony announced on Tuesday that it has raised the sum from French bank BNP Paribas and its existing shareholders, which include Goldman Sachs and Google.

Olivier Osty, BNP Paribas’ executive head of global markets, says: “Digital transformation is central to BNP Paribas Global Markets’ strategy, and collaboration with fintechs is a crucial part of that process.”

BNP announced in February plans to double investment in technology to €3 billion (£2.5 billion, $US3.2 billion) over the next three years as part of plans to adapt to changing consumer behaviour and cut costs.

Osty says: “Forming agile partnerships with exciting and innovative companies like Symphony helps us deliver an exceptional service to clients, and remain their partner of choice in a changing world.”

Symphony is a like Slack for banks. It allows bankers and other people working in highly regulated environments to benefit from enterprise encryption and security while they chat online, either through text or voice.

The platform has evolved, and third-party apps can be installed to show financial data, monitor sentiment on Twitter, and perform tasks such as charting. Partners include Dow Jones and IHS Markit.

David Gurlé, Symphony’s founder and CEO, says in a statement announcing the new investment:

“This financing is a recognition of the value our customers have experienced as the Symphony community has grown.

“Our customers’ desire to make Symphony their central platform and replace legacy tools is an endorsement of the efficiencies brought by an integrated collaboration platform and streamlined workflow.”

Symphony will use the fresh funding to “accelerate expansion, to drive growth in both its current and new markets, and further build out its feature stack to deliver a new wave of innovation to enterprises and replace traditional collaboration tools.”

Symphony has been spearheaded by some of Wall Streets biggest banks. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Jefferies, Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley bought chat app Perzo in October 2014 and invested over $US60 million (£46.5 million) into it to relaunch it as a financial chat app. Tuesday’s funding injection means it has raised over $US200 million (£155.1 million). Google came on as an investor in 2015.

The investment from Wall Street banks back in 2014 was seen as a conscious effort to move away from reliance on Bloomberg terminals after a scandal in 2013 when it emerged that Bloomberg journalists could see what clients were reading on their terminals.

Gurlé has played down the rivalry with Bloomberg, telling Business Insider Symphony’s goal is to replace workplace email, not Bloomberg. However, Bloomberg appears to see Symphony as a threat and has sought to lobby against the rival product in Europe.

Symphony has over 200,000 paying users, up from 116,000 last October.

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