Careers at Symphony
Symphony’s mission is to deliver secure messaging for teams, workgroups, and organizations of all sizes.
David Gurle was an executive at Microsoft who had been in the communications industry for more than 20 years. During that time he was able to see the sector from all angles (consumer, enterprise, etc.), which enabled him to identify many common challenges. One of them was business communications – he felt that while e-mail was a useful tool, it could offer more value. So he set about developing a new communication system that would provide quality service.
Gurle spent a year working on Perzo, a messaging program that promised secure operations. Within a week of the solution going live in 2012, he received an acquisition offer, followed by three others and a funding offer. Not sold on any of the proposals, he met with a friend from Goldman Sachs who had expressed an interest in the venture. He learned that the investment firm had built its own internal messaging system called Live Current. It wanted to combine its offering with Gurle’s.
Gurle supported the strategy, and proposed that the merged entity be called Symphony - representative of how the system would bring voices from different backgrounds together, communicating in the same format. In October 2014, Goldman Sachs partnered with 14 other financial firms to form and invest $66 million in Symphony Communication Services, which acquired Perzo. The company planned to focus on the financial services sector, then branch out later.
The following year saw a number of major milestones. In November 2014 Symphony acquired Collaboration Services, an open messaging network, enhancing its offering. It also generated a lot of interest, receiving more than 5,000 company leads. In September 2015 it unveiled a free public version of its cloud-based offering. In October 2015 it announced it had raised another $100 million in a new funding round led by Google. The company has plans to pursue an IPO in 2018-2019.
Benefits at Symphony
Business model of Symphony
Symphony has a segmented market business model, with three customer segments:
- General Public: The company offers a free version of its software for “personal productivity” purposes
- General Businesses: The company offers an enterprise-grade version of its software for companies, both large and small
- Financial Firms: The company offers a version of its software customized for sell-side and buy-side firms that enable them to maintain regulatory compliance
Symphony offers four primary value propositions: customization, convenience, risk reduction, and price.
The company’s solution offers customization by allowing users to enhance messages with rich editing, files, tables, and images. They can also personalize filters and alerts with hashtags, mentions, and cashtags.
The company’s solution creates convenience by providing daily statistics for user sessions (e.g., top users and messages sent per user), automatically adapting to sudden market peaks, and enabling customers to pin important chats, automatically create filters, and engage in bulk account creation.
The company’s solution reduces risk through the following features:
- End-to-end protection of all content and messages through customer-controlled keys
- PIN code and Touch ID protection for mobile phone conversation access
- Compliance assurance through proactive user warnings, organizational info-barriers, and firmwide expression filters
The company offers a price value proposition. It charges $15 per user per month for access to its cloud solution, significantly lower than the $20,000 annual subscription charged by Bloomberg.
Symphony’s main channel for general public customers is its website, while it relies on its direct sales team for financial firms and other businesses. The company promotes its offering through its social media pages.
Symphony’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service, automated nature. Customers utilize the service through the main platform while having limited interaction with employees. The company’s website offers self-help resources such as videos, product screenshots, and answers to frequently asked questions. That said, there is a personal assistance component in the form of phone and e-mail support. Customers for paid plans can track the progress of their customer service requests through their online account.
Symphony’s business model entails maintaining a robust software platform for its customers, which can be accessed online and through its mobile app.
Symphony has the following types of partners:
Developers – The company invites business/enterprise customers to apply for developer access to enhance their experience; they can create interactive modules and notification bots that can provide live updates from third-party services
Advertisers – The company invites third parties to advertise their content and services in the Symphony app store; current partners include Dow Jones, Selerity, and S&P Capital IQ
Symphony’s main resource is its proprietary software platform. It also depends on its human resources in the form of engineering employees to maintain the platform and customer service workers to provide support. Lastly, as a relatively new startup it has relied heavily on funding from outside parties, raising $166 million from 23 investors as of October 2015.
Symphony has a cost-driven structure, aiming to minimize expenses through significant automation and low-price value propositions. Its biggest cost driver is likely sales/marketing expenses. Other major drivers are in the areas of customer support/operations and administration.
Symphony has two revenue streams:
Subscription Revenues – The company charges $15 per month per user for access to its “Financial Services” and “Business & Enterprise” plans
Advertising Revenues – The company charges partners a fee to advertise their offerings within its app
info: David earned an M.S. in Computer Science and Telecommunications at ESIGETEL. He previously served as VP and General Manager of Skype for Business and Global Head of Collaboration Services at Thomson Reuters, and worked at Microsoft.
info: Mike earned a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology. He previously held leadership positions at Alcatel, Verlink, Assured Access, and Madge Networks. He has 22 years of experience in communications.
info: Barry earned a Ph.D. in Cryptography at Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, France. He previously served as the CTO of Verayo, as a Security Architect at Apple, as a Principal Scientist at Verisign, and as a Co-Founder of the crypto team at Gemplus.
info: Kim previously served as an HR Consultant for startups at KT Consulting, as VP of HR, Ops & IT at Ampush, as an HR Business Partner Manager at Google, and as a Director of HR at Tiburon. She has over 19 years of experience in HR, Operations, and IT.
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