Symphony Communications raises $67 mln as it eyes IPO

An IPO may be in the future for Symphony Communication Services LLC, which just raised a D round that values the Wall Street online chat service at more than $1 billion.

Symphony, Palo Alto, California, collected $67 million from new investors include Barclays, Bpifrance and CLSA. Including the $67 million, Symphony’s war chest comes to more than $300 million, said David Gurlé, founder and CEO.

Prior investors include Google, Bank of America, BlackRock Private Equity and Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investments.

Gurlé said he’s thrilled to welcome Barclays, Bpifrance and CLSA as shareholders. The capital raise gives Symphony a mix of strategic investors in the regions where the company wants to grow. Symphony, over the past year, opened offices in Tokyo, Stockholm and Sophia-Antipolis, France.

“This will give us more leverage,” Gurlé said. “Not only will [the new shareholders] own Symphony, but they will promote Symphony to their customer and supplier base.”

Symphony plans to “double down” on financial services and add more products, Gurlé said.

At the same time, the company will look to expand into more regulated markets including legal, accounting, healthcare and insurance, he said. The messaging service counts more than 300 firms as customers and 320,000 users.

The funding comes a year since Symphony’s last round. The company raised $63 million in 2017, $100 million in 2015 and $66 million in 2014, PitchBook said. Symphony is well-capitalized and doesn’t need to raise another round, Gurlé said.

“I never want to say I will or I won’t [raise another round]. It’s all about being pragmatic,” he said. “Right now, we feel we are very well where we are at, but if there is some strategic investor that could give us great leverage, then we will consider it.”

The current D round sets the company up for a possible sale or IPO.

Although people are always interested in the company, Symphony will likely remain independent, Gurlé said. An IPO is something Symphony is considering as an option when the “timing and conditions are right,” he said. “We will certainly consider it.”

For the time being, Symphony’s focus is on being private and establishing itself in new verticals. “Then, it will be the right time to think about [an IPO],” he said.

A Bloomberg scandal contributed to the emergence of Symphony.

In 2013, Bloomberg reporters accessed data showing what clients were doing on its terminals, press reports said. Goldman Sachs was one of the loudest to complain about the incident and acquired Perzo, a secure messaging service developed by Gurlé, to compete against Bloomberg, Recode said. Led by Goldman, a consortium of 15 investment banks ended up funding Symphony in 2014.

Symphony, however, doesn’t see the messaging services provided by Bloomberg or Thomson Reuters as rivals but potential partners, Gurlé said. Microsoft Skype and Microsoft Team are competitors to Symphony, he said.

Action Item: For more information, contact David Gurlé at +1 650-733-6660

People walk by a Wall Street sign close to the New York Stock Exchange on April 2, 2018. Courtesy of Reuters/Shannon Stapleton