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Symphony CEO Aims To Drum Up Discord at Microsoft, Slack

If you’ve heard of Symphony, the Palo Alto-based startup that raised $66 million last October from more than a dozen major banks, it’s probably as a possible instant messaging replacement for the service offered by Bloomberg, the financial data and news giant. Banks’ relationship with Bloomberg have been in the spotlight in the past two years since an uproar about Bloomberg journalists’ access to certain subscriber data.

But Symphony, which has grown from 15 people to more than 100 over that past eight months, has messaging products from Slack, Jive and Microsoft in its crosshairs as well. The company aims to build out video, phone and screen-sharing capabilities in addition to the core chat functions, aiming to take on just about any general messaging platform as a competitor. Symphony’s software is due for release in July.

Unlike the incumbents, Symphony relies on open-source software and it will try to compete with enhanced security for big global banks.

Few understand the market better than Symphony CEO David Gurle, because he’s been an executive at many of the services he’s now aiming to compete against in high finance: Skype, Microsoft Lync and the messaging service at Bloomberg’s main rival Thomson Reuters. The Information chatted with Mr. Gurle about Symphony’s expanding ambitions. Edited excerpts below.

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