Symphony, a secure messaging app that counts 15 of the world’s biggest banks among its investors and 200,000 paying customers, has raised a new tranche of funding to fuel its expansion into new markets. Symphony has closed in on $63 million; and according to sources close to the company, the startup is now valued at over $1 billion — confirming our reporting from December.
This new round adds another strategic investor, the French bank BNP Paribas, which led the round and is taking a seat on Symphony’s board. A majority of Symphony’s existing shareholders also participated in the round, the company said. That group includes Google, Lakestar, Natixis, Societe Generale, UBS, and Merus Capital, and a consortium of 14 of the world’s largest investment banks and money managers, including Bank of America, BlackRock, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, and JP Morgan. The company has now raised $229 million.
While the valuation confirms the figure we published in December last year in an article about the company’s latest fundraising efforts, that story also noted that Symphony had been looking to raise up to $200 million, and that the round was likely to include investors out of Asia, specifically Singapore.
Today, a spokesperson declined to comment on that report. She also declined to say whether this is a new Series of funding, or whether Symphony is extending a previous round.
“We get a lot of interest and conversations are always ongoing,” she said. “At this point we feel like we are well funded.” She described BNP Paribas as a “strategic investor — one reason why we wanted them.”
“Digital transformation is central to BNP Paribas Global Markets’ strategy, and collaboration with fintech [companies] is a crucial part of that process. 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,” said Olivier Osty, Executive Head of Global Markets, BNP Paribas, in a statement.
To date, Symphony has built its business primarily targeting the financial services sector with a messaging service that not only lets those within a company communicate with each other, but also lets them speak with contacts outside their organizations using the same secure framework. You can think of Symphony as somewhat like Slack and other messaging services except that, in collaboration with its strategic investors, it has built a platform that meets their particular requirements when it comes to encryption and reporting requirements.
Symphony competes not only against other messaging apps also targeting enterprise users, but also other services that bankers have used to communicate to each other. One of these traditionally has been Bloomberg terminals, which can cost significantly more (estimated at $25,000 per terminal annually) than the starting rate of $15/user/month pricing that Symphony charges for its paid tiers. (It’s known by some as the “Bloomberg killer.”)
The company doesn’t disclose how many free users it has in its freemium model, noting the figure is just in the “thousands.”
Like other messaging apps, Symphony has supplemented its basic messaging functionality with a range of other features. They include voice and video chat; and a marketplace of other services for sourcing data like Dow Jones and Selerity for surfacing content relevant to discussions, Chart IQ, S&P market intelligence, and Fintech Studios.
The formula has worked so far: the company now has 160 financial services companies among its customers, and now it plans to use the funding to pick up more in other verticals. Areas that it has been eyeing up are adjacent markets like legal and accounting that also fall under strict reporting and data retention standards. But also others like the healthcare industry whose organizations and companies also follow strong privacy rules.
“We are thrilled to have the support of our new and existing investors as we accelerate global platform adoption,” said David Gurlé, founder and CEO of Symphony, in a statement. “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.”
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