A group of Wall Street firms, led by Goldman Sachs, has acquired instant messaging outfit Perzo and set up a new company to help them break free of their reliance on Bloomberg.
The 14 firms are putting up $66 million for Symphony Communication Services Holdings, which rolls in Perzo and technology that Goldman has been working on over the last couple of years, according to Reuters.
The system will let banks, corporate customers and individuals put all digital communications - chat, text, email, tweets - on a centralised platform. It is also open source, enabling users to customise it to their own needs.
Slated to launch in beta in early 2015 with a full roll out by the middle of the year, large users will pay monthly fees based on data storage needs, but the service will be free for individuals.
In an industry where security and regulatory compliance is critical, every Symphony message will be encrypted locally at the client, using a key shared only by the members of the conversation so that the company can never access the data.
Symphony is a direct challenge to the Instant Bloomberg chat system that has long dominated Wall Street but comes as part of a $20,000-a-year terminal package in an age when banks are bidding to slash costs. It also poses a threat to Thomson Reuters and Markit, who have teamed on their own open source chat system.
Perzo founder David Gurle, who now leads Symphony, says: "Our backing by these firms demonstrates our continued commitment to providing innovative, secure messaging and collaboration tools that improve the workflow and productivity of our users."
Goldman Sachs' Darren Cohen adds: "Symphony responds to a pressing need across the industry for better methods of communication and collaboration. We are pleased by the support from many of the world's most prominent financial firms, which speaks to the strong desire for a more open, secure, compliant and efficient communication platform."
The firms backing Symphony are Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, BlackRock, Citadel, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Jefferies Group, JPMorgan Chase, Maverick Capital, Morgan Stanley, Nomura and Wells Fargo.