Wall Street darling Symphony raises $63M for its secure chat service


Investors see a lot of growth potential in team communications. Today a consortium led by French banking giant BNP Paribas SA joined in with a $63 million round into Symphony Communication Services LLC, a fast-rising messaging startup based in Palo Alto, California.

Its claim to fame is a chat service similar to Slack that provides file-sharing features, bots and many of the other bells and whistles expected from a modern communications service. What sets Symphony apart is a set of security options geared toward companies in regulated industries.

One of its most notable capabilities is support for customer-owned keys, which allows an organization to use its own ciphers to encrypt employees’ messages and files. Besides giving companies more control over worker communications, the feature enables them to periodically refresh keys according to their security policies, which limits the damage that hackers can do in the event they somehow compromise a firm’s encryption.

The other major element of Symphony’s security pitch is an administrative console for restricting user activity. Companies can have the service automatically filter parts of a message that contain sensitive information and sync correspondences to an external archive if their legal requirements call for it. Moreover, the startup provides the ability to prevent certain workers from joining a chat room in situations when there are potential conflicts of interest.

Symphony’s service has emerged as a major hit on Wall Street. The startup boasts more than 200,000 paying users, according to Business Insider, while most of its investors hail from the financial industry. The startup said that today’s funding will be used to expand into new markets, though it didn’t provide details.

One possibility is that Symphony might be planning to target other regulated sectors such as healthcare and government, where there’s often overlap with the banking world as far as security requirements are concerned. The startup could also take a shot at the broader market given that privacy is an equally big priority for traditional enterprises. Its security-focused approach has the potential to provide an edge over Slack and Atlassian Corp. plc’s HipChat, the two leading team chat services on the market, which have both suffered breaches in recent quarters.

Image: Symphony