Gurle who founded Symphony—the Palo Alto, California-based firm was previously named Perzo— had previous stints as the vice president of corporate strategy at Avaya, and as vice president and general manager at Skype for Business. He also worked at Thomson Reuters, and Microsoft. In his current position, he remains focused on providing the type of secure experience his clients expect and need in an age rife with data breaches.
"So what we have done is encrypt data before actually it leaves your computer," he said about the security that wraps each of Symphony's instant messages. "We call this the 'entrant encryption.' And this enables the data to be decrypted only by the recipient of that data, so while the data is in transit—or while the data is at rest when it is stored into a server—it's not possible to decrypt the data and read what's going on."
Gurle said that as far as he knows, Symphony is the only instant messaging service that has this encryption feature, which might be the reason the company is fielding requests for information from firms outside of the financial services field.
"As the news kind of broke out, we have seen lots of inbound requests from other industries," Gurle said of the reports about coming launch. "The legal industry, accounting, health care, some government agencies, some school systems have reached out to us."
Symphony has also attracted the attention of investors beyond the 14 financial firms, though Gurle played down reports the company is in talks for a second round of financing. He said Symphony is "still OK" from a financial perspective.
What he and the 120 people who work for him are concentrating on now is the September launch, which will feature the company's clients talking about the service and a free download for those who want to try out the product on their PC. Android and iPhone versions of the systems are slated to be introduced in December.
As for an initial public offering, he said that is an option, but a future one that will depend on market conditions. But before the firm goes public, Gurle said he wants Symphony to reach a critical level of momentum.
"There is a book called the 'Tipping Point,'" he said, referring to the Malcolm Gladwell best-seller. "I read it, and my conclusion was that for any given market, whether it's a market of 100 or 100 million people, it's about one-third of that market you need to really work hard to get to in order to reach the tipping point."
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So this means Symphony is seeking capture a little less than 500,000 of the 1.6 million potential users in the capital markets space of finance, and/or 2 million of the 6 million potential users in the financial industry.
Beyond reaching a critical number of users, Gurle expects Symphony to expand its offerings in coming years, when he expects it will no longer be solely an instant messaging system.
"Actually I see Symphony to be a workflow platform, and instant messaging service is the foundation, because it brings together human beings because we interact with each other. So that's the community piece," he said.
"And then obviously we communicate with each other. But that automatically generates work, right? Either we consume work through this platform or we create work through this platform. So imagine you could bring the different workflow elements into this platform and therefore make yourself more streamlined and successful. That's really what we are going to do."
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