Tag Archives: Symphony


BlackRock Wants You To Chat Up Symphony..Away From Bloomberg

BlackRock is the latest firm to embrace Symphony Chat Platform; Another Shot Across Bloomberg Bow

In early 2014,  when David Gurle, a former Reuters exec started to chat up a scheme with prospective banking industry investors that would offer a low cost alternative  to Bloomberg LP’s ubiquitous instant message / chat application, prospective strategic investors were more than intrigued. After all, Bloomberg had long held a virtual monopoly on the most critical application used across financial markets, one that enables traders and managers to rapidly communicate indications of interest for large-scale transactions And, because Bloomberg only provides bundled applications within its subscription model, many terminal subscribers who only use that platform for instant messaging have long been handcuffed to annual terminal fees that approach $25,000 per user for the simple privilege of instant messaging. Guthrie’s idea was not only intriguing, it was seen as an epiphany moment by a start-up investing group within Goldman Sachs led by a fellow named David Cohen, who long expressed concerns about Bloomberg’s toe-hold on trading desk communications.

Soon thereafter, a consortium of banks and buyside firms pumped nearly $70 million into the startup named Symphony, each sharing the same goal of hoping to save millions of dollars on Bloomberg subscription fees and via a more secure way to communicate with trading desk counterparts away from watching eyes of Bloomberg’s black box.  Nearly 2 years since that first funding round, the company has received approximately $100mil to fund its David v. Goliath battle. Now that Blackrock has joined the Symphony party, the fintech company’s still slow path to prominence is hoped to hasten. Below excerpt from WSJ frames the latest chapter..

David Gurle, Symphony CEO
David Gurle, Symphony CEO

June 23, 2016 7:00 p.m. ET

The world’s largest money manager is trying to change the way Wall Street chats.

BlackRock Inc. will urge banks, brokers and others who interact with it to communicate via a messaging platform backed by banks and investment firms called Symphony Communication Services LLC, according to people familiar with the matter.

The asset manager, also an investor in Symphony, started testing the system with thousands of employees internally last year and now has moved all internal chat messaging to the service, the people said.

The hope from those backing Symphony is that BlackRock’s push will help jump-start the service’s use across the financial-services industry.

Symphony was created as an alternative to Bloomberg LP terminals, long a hallmark of trading floors and an expense banks have struggled to trim. The firms also like Symphony’s secure-messaging technology.
Despite the fanfare that followed Symphony’s late-2014 launch and last year’s $100 million funding round that included an investment from Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Symphony has yet to gain widespread use, according to traders across Wall Street.

At Goldman Sachs Group Inc., a Symphony investor that contributed its own messaging developments to the platform, the service is now used by most of the firm’s employees across all of its businesses, according to a person familiar with the situation. Goldman traders, for instance, use Symphony to communicate with back-office employees charged with settling trades.

Elsewhere, though, Symphony remains little used or, in some cases, virtually unknown.

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Symphony Pact With FlexTrade-Shot Across Bloomberg Bow

Symphony, the Wall Street-backed secure messaging platform first designed to displace Bloomberg LP’s most ubiquitous feature and further reduce the Street’s dependency and technology costs synonymous with having a Bloomberg terminal, has struck another blow in the bow of Bloomberg’s boat thanks to the consortium-owned deal with electronic execution system provider FlexTrade.

If not widely known outside the world of trading systems vendors, EMS provider FlexTrade does have a global footprint and is utilized by buy-side managers as well as sell-side brokers, but when compared to Bloomberg’s terminal farm of nearly 300,000 subscribers, it is otherwise a minnow compared to Bloomberg’s being a whale in the ocean of institutional electronic execution offerings. That said, the news below from FlexTrade, in which they have just merged order management functionality with Symphony’s messaging applications is likely to cause Mike Bloomberg spending more than 15 minutes thinking about the ramifications of below story while flying his private jet down to the Bahamas this weekend. The story headline from Markets Media may be dry to some, but for those following Symphony’s encroachment, it is wetting the mouths of sharks.

(Markets Media) FlexTrade Automates Blotter Communication

Execution-management system provider FlexTrade has integrated Symphony’s secure messaging platform with its trading platform.

“The integration lets clients communicate directly from their trading blotter over Symphony in a secure and compliant way,” said Andy Mahoney, director of business development for FlexTrade UK.

Driving the integration was a sea change in traders’ behavior across the Americas, Europe and Asia that FlexTrade noticed, according to Mahoney.

Andy Mahoney, FlexTrade

“People want to be able to communicate from their blotters,” he said. “Obviously, integrating Symphony into the FlexTrade platform is the next step in that.”

FlexTrade clients are free to decided how they wish integrate Symphony into their current workflow.

Some of the basic capabilities include firing off automated messages if a specific set of criteria is met.

“For example, if brokers fill your orders outside the spread, clients can trigger a message asking the brokers why they filled the order outside of the spread,” said Mahoney. “Or if you get a lit execution on a dark algo, it also can trigger an automated message to the broker.”

FlexTrade also plans to add the ability to search for information and research on specific issues from the blotter, capture conversations in the platform’s FlexTCA transaction-cost analysis tool as well as support fixed-income liquidity discovery, inventory distribution and price negotiation in the coming months.

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Symphony Singing As Ex-Reuters CEO Joins Board in Battle v. Bloomberg

MarketsMuse.com Tech Talk aka Fintech update profiles the latest from Symphony, the brokerdealer-backed financial communications program that is looking to make the Bloomberg terminals (or at least their most-used messaging application) mute. This David v. Goliath type battle pitting well-backed upstarts against the ubiquitous Bloomberg LP could become a trend among other aspiring fintech, trading system and specialty financial data providers when considering last week’s snafu that, for a few hours, rendered the Bloomberg LP terminal farm “tradus interruptus” across the globe (albeit, the fix was made prior to the opening bell of US markets.)

Tom Glocer
Tom Glocer

As spotted first by of all places, the NY Post, “Tom Glocer, former CEO of Thomson Reuters and a managing partner of Angelic Ventures, is joining Symphony’s board of directors, according to a person directly familiar with the company’s plans (according to the NY Post).”

Symphony, which received a $66 million investment last year from 15 financial companies has been seen as a viable alternative to the $24,000-a-year Bloomberg terminal.

The company’s backers include a who’s who of Wall Street financial companies: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNY Mellon, BlackRock, Citadel, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Jefferies, JPMorgan, Maverick, Morgan Stanley, Nomura and Wells Fargo.

Last fall, these companies contributed $66M to finance Symphony, and using that money, purchased Perzo, a company that was building a secure communications platform. After the purchase, they named Perzo founder David Gurle as Symphony CEO.

In addition to providing encrypted chat services, Symphony doesn’t store any communications as a third party, and allows a bank’s compliance officers to stop chats from leaving the company — an increasingly important factor for banks who are seeing chat records in court papers.

The addition of Glocer is only the latest of alum of the news and financial data company to join Symphony.

David Gurle, Symphony’s founder and CEO, was global head of collaborative services at Thomson Reuters, and worked on the company’s chat tool, according to the company’s Web site.

In addition to Gurle, there’s Eran Barak, Symphony’s global head of business operations, and Koray Oztekin and Ann Demirtjis, who do product management, according to the company’s Web site.
At least four other Symphony employees in business development have formerly worked at Thomson Reuters, according to LinkedIn.

Symphony is already in wide use at Goldman Sachs, which led the round of funding last year. The service is expected to be broadly rolled out to Wall Street by July.