The Goldman Sachs-backed startup built to damage Bloomberg launches tomorrow

After almost a year of waiting, the world will get its first glimpse of possible Bloomberg-killer Symphony tomorrow.

The messaging tool backed by top Wall Street banks will be launched publicly tomorrow at The Lanesborough Hotel in Hyde Park, London.

Symphony promises “secure, compliant messaging” similar to the internal chat system in Bloomberg terminals. Many bankers see this feature as the most valuable part of the terminal.

Many top investment banks have been using the programme in a limited capacity for almost a year now, but tomorrow will be the first time the messaging app has been demoed in public.

The Financial Times reports on Monday that Symphony has also just struck a deal with Wall Street Journal-owner Dow Jones to provide news wire services, a feature that could be announced at tomorrow’s launch and would be another blow to Bloomberg. Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg’s arch rival, is also tipped to join forces with Symphony.

Symphony is the brainchild of Goldman Sachs, which headed a consortium of banks that spent $US66 million (£42.7 million) buying chat platform Perzo last October to turn it into Symphony.

The list of other backers reads like a who’s who of investment banking — JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Wells Fargo, and Nomura. Many of these banks have been using Symphony internally since the investment, according to an email from Symphony. The Palo Alto-based company, is already reportedly worth $US1 billion (£650 million).

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.

The investment bank began working on its own internal messaging system, dubbed LiveCurrent, around the same time. Goldman combined this technology with Perzo’s when it acquired the company.

Symphony’s offering is “open source”, meaning its core code can be customised and tailored. Writing on the company’s blog, product manager Koray Oztekin says:

The core of our thinking is that one size doesn’t fit all in communications, which led users to adapt different tools for different communications purposes. That’s why our platform molds to everyone’s unique needs, and integrates a wide range of message formats and functionality — including chat rooms, content streams, internal and external cross-company communications — into one platform.

Chats are also encrypted, meaning only those involved can read them.

Symphony could also help banks cut down on costs, as a Bloomberg terminal subscription costs an estimated $US21,000 (£13,580), according to the New York Times.

Not only that, the service could become a money-spinner for Goldman Sachs and other investors. Symphony’s launch on Tuesday will see it open up for use by business around the world, at no initial cost. Eventually the service will have a tiered cost depending on the size of the business.

Work messaging service Slack has exploded in popularity over the last year, recently reaching a $US2.7 billion (£1.75 billion) valuation. Goldman will no doubt be hoping Symphony becomes the Slack of the financial world.

Bloomberg declined to comment. Business Insider contacted Goldman Sachs for comment and the bank pointed us to this blog post from earlier in the year.

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