Just before its third-year anniversary, the CEO of Symphony, the company heralded as the “Bloomberg killer,” is telling his employees to “buckle up” for a “thrilling” next two years.
David Gurle, CEO of the secured-message platform backed by some of Wall Street’s most powerful players, sent out a memo to the company’s more than 200 employees Monday. In the note, seen by Business Insider, Gurle highlighted some of the company’s recent milestones and his vision for its future.
“We are kicking Slack, Skype for Business and Teams out of every account where we compete with them,” Gurle wrote. “If we can achieve all this with just 3 years’ worth of innovation, just imagine where will we be 2 years from now, when we will celebrate only our fifth year anniversary?”
As such, he told folks to “buckle up tight as the ride is going to be fun and turbulent with lots of thrills and also fears.”
Symphony is like Slack for banks. It allows traders and other people working in highly regulated environments to benefit from enterprise encryption and security while they chat online, either through text or voice.
Symphony in May announced a $US63 million fundraise, which brought the total amount the company has raised to $US234 million. It counts Google, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, and a number of other Wall Street firms as its backers. The company is valued at more than $US1 billion.
Since January 17 the company has witnessed its active usage rate grow more than 270%, according to the memo. Symphony defines active users as anyone who sends and reads at least one message on the app in a month, according to a person familiar with the matter.
In total, Symphony has 230,000 users across 200 firms, according to the memo.
In a way Symphony replicates the messaging feature of a Bloomberg terminal, one of the service’s most popular features, and combines it with elements of social media. Many of its backers, including Goldman Sachs, got behind the company to put pressure on the monopoly of Bloomberg, which charges its users more than $US20,000 per year for a subscription to its signature terminal. Hence, the nickname “Bloomberg killer.”
But Gurle doesn’t see Symphony as just being a tool Wall Streeters can use. As such, he prefers the nickname “email killer.”
In the memo, Gurle said the company will be a big player in chat alongside Microsoft and Slack, serving an array of industries. Here’s Gurle on his vision for the future (emphasis added):
“While I can’t predict the future, from what I know today, I foresee that there will be 3 players in the market: Teams will dominate the market thanks Microsoft’s push of O365 to their more than 85M user base. Slack, with its yearlong head start and broad prosumer business model will be next as they will mature and start winning enterprise wide deals and Symphony, which will be the market leader in all regulated and information sensitive markets.
As for the company’s short-term position, Gurle said “Symphony had reached the inflection point.”
“This is the point from which our opportunities will only grow deeper, broader and bigger,” he said.
Parts of Gurle’s note got personal. He admitted to not being perfect, and named some employees whom he drives “crazy.” Here’s Gurle (emphasis ours):
“I do make mistakes here and there, nor do I know everything I should know, and there are times I really get angry with myself and have a hard time recovering from it. How do I cope with this? I always ask myself the question of what I can improve in me, in my management team, in the company, etc… I know I drive Kim, Thomas, JC, Eran, Derek, Leah, Koray, Andrea, Bryan, Mike, Sarp, Queenie and many others crazy (consider yourself lucky if your name isn’t here) at times by this relentless push for improvement and adaptation to our ever changing ecosystem. If we can do better and we chose not to then we sacrifice the gift of life, this is my philosophy.
A spokeswoman for Symphony declined to comment.