????因此，2014年8月，高盛、美國銀行、貝萊德、摩根大通等全球最大的14家金融機構集體投資Symphony Communication Services Holdings公司，收購名為Perzo的安全即時通訊服務，也就不足為奇。上述企業希望用價格更低廉但安全性同樣有保障的技術取代無處不在的彭博終端。
????風險投資公司Merus Capital合伙人薩爾曼?烏拉20年前曾與格勒在微軟Lync項目上共事，后來成為Perzo最早期的資助者之一。烏拉相信，該服務“有望成為企業級市場的WhatsApp”。去年，烏拉所在的Merus Capital公司在種子期向Symphony投資了20萬美元。今年早些時候，Merus Capital加碼，又注入了350萬美元投資。
????烏拉表示：“人人都猜測Symphony可能成為彭博終結者，但我們之前甚至都不知道彭博終端是什么。我們之前嚴重與世界脫節?！爆F在，烏拉比較熟悉彭博終端了。他這樣描述自己第一次看到彭博終端界面時的震驚：“我簡直不敢相信，我還以為他們是跟我開玩笑?！睘趵瓕⑵浔茸魇褂蒙鲜兰o50年代的過時編程語言Cobal進行編程。他說道：“這像是老掉牙的東西?！贝_實，自20世紀80年代以來，彭博系統的硬件或軟件界面鮮有更新，這招致了一些批評，甚至促使設計公司IDEO于2007年在Condé Nast Portfolio雜志上暢想了如何重新設計彭博系統的用戶體驗。
????Since the early ‘90s, Bloomberg has dominated the financial communications market, its terminals serving as key entry points into the world’s financial corridors. Costing more than $20,000 a piece per year and connecting more than 320,000 clients with critical information, Bloomberg’s terminals are the industry standard when it comes to secure, instant messaging.
????Still, financial firms are tired of the terminal’s exorbitant price tag, and many traders are still wary after Bloomberg reporters were caught snooping the activity of terminal users last year. (Bloomberg issued an apology and updated its newsroom rules in an effort to prevent such an incident from reoccurring.)
????It’s not surprising, then, why 14 of the world’s biggest financial firms—including Goldman Sachs , Bank of America , BlackRock, J.P Morgan Chase , and others—bought a secure instant messaging service called Perzo in August 2014 through a venture called Symphony Communication Services Holdings. They want a cheaper, yet equally secure, technology to replace Bloomberg’s ubiquitous terminals.
????Goldman Sachs, one of the most vocal gripers in the Bloomberg affair, shelled out $66 million to became the principal investor in Symphony. Founded in 2012 by Frenchman David Gurle (who hails from Cannes and previously worked at Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, and Skype), Perzo—since renamed Symphony—may soon offer a proprietary alternative to Bloomberg’s premium messaging tool. One advantage: the product grants enterprises control over how and with whom their employees chat, an appealing feature for those looking to comply with regulatory Chinese walls. (Bloomberg declined to comment.)
????Gurle is an interesting figure himself. Not only does he have a background at several big-name companies, he’s also a licensed pilot who occasionally flies medical missions to transport organs and patients from airfield to hospital. He initially pitched the idea for a unified communications service—one that bundles messaging, voice and application sharing—at a meeting with Bill Gates in 2000. It went well. “If you’re in a product review with Bill, you’ll hear him say, ‘This is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,’” Gurle says. “I didn’t hear that comment, so it was a very positive outcome.”
????Symphony can be considered a rebirth of that initial pitch. “Project Phoenix,” as the Microsoft endeavor was dubbed, evolved into Microsoft Lync, a business communications system. After leaving the software giant in 2003 to lead collaborative services at Thomson Reuters for seven years—Gurle’s first foray into the financial world—he joined Skype, where he headed the company’s enterprise business division. A year later, Gurle’s former employer Microsoft purchased Skype, bringing his career full circle. (The company recently announced that Microsoft Lync will be renamed Skype for Business next year.) Now Gurle has turned another revolution, returning to Wall Street.
????Salman Ullah, a partner at the venture firm Merus Capital who two decades ago worked with Gurle on Microsoft Lync and later became one of Perzo’s earliest funders, believes the service “has the potential to be the WhatsApp for business,” as he put it. Last year, his firm invested $200,000 in Symphony’s seed round. Earlier this year, the firm upped its contribution, injecting an additional $3.5 million.
????“Everybody has speculated about how Symphony could be a Bloomberg killer,” Ullah says. “We didn’t even know what it was. We were so decoupled from that world.” Now Ullah is more familiar. He describes his shock at first seeing the interface of the Bloomberg terminal: “I couldn’t believe it. I thought they were pulling my leg,” Ullah says. He compares the experience to coding in the démodé programming language Cobal from the ‘50s. “It’s like clay tablet era,” he says. Indeed, the Bloomberg system has seen few updates to its hardware or software interfaces since in the 1980s, a fact that’s illicit some criticism and even prompted user-interface IDEO to imagine a possible UX redesign for Condé Nast Portfolio magazine in 2007.
????For Gurle’s part, his ambition exceeds unseating Bloomberg. With plans for a full release by this summer, he would like his end-to-end encrypted messaging tool to sweep the currently fragmented landscape (cluttered with Bloomberg chat, Thomson Reuters Eikon, AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo chat, Gchat, etc.) with an all-in-one, fully compliant alternative. He hopes it will be just as popular with consumers as businesses.
????As CEO of Symphony, Gurle plans to make the service open source, so people can build features, like content and news elements, on top, unlike the closed Bloomberg system. He also aims to embed helpful contextual intelligence in Symphony, such as an automated personal assistant. The service will likely be free with three paid tiers, he says, mentioning add-ons like access to corporate directories, unlimited storage, regulatory compliance, and network redundancies. In terms of the paid tier pricing, he expects: Professional (less than $10 per month), Enterprise (between $15 and $20 per month), and Enterprise Plus (less than $30 per month).
????“I’m going to make a very bold statement,” Gurle declares. “If we end up forcing you to use two different communication tools—inboxes, let’s call it, for lack of a better term—then we have failed,” he says. “Then we will not have simplified your life, we will have made it more complicated.”
????While that statement has yet to be proven, major enterprises are already putting a lot of faith in Symphony. Darren Cohen, then head of principal strategic investments at Goldman Sachs and who helped spark the merger tête-à-têtes, has been a firebrand within the consortium of investing companies. Goldman Sachs now leads the pack in adopting Symphony, and the company has already folded its former tool—Live Current, which allows employees to easily grab and share tweets (where news often breaks)—into Symphony. Though Cohen was unable to provide comment for the story, odds are good that he and his superiors are pleased with the deal; he has since been promoted to partner. The bigger question is whether Symphony will see a promotion of its own from ambitious startup to the new gold standard of the financial industry.