Careers at Twilio
Twilio’s mission is to enable developers to change the world of communications forever.
Jeff Lawson, an engineer from Michigan, was tired of dealing with the expensive contracts and equipment associated with his companies’ telecommunications operations. He dreamed of being able to add communications into his businesses’ workflow in the same way he could add code to his software – specifically, enabling app developers to embed voice into their applications. In 2007, he met with twenty angel investors and venture capitalists, none of whom bought into his vision.
He forged ahead anyway, partnering with Evan Cooke and John Wolthuis to form a firm shortly after the financial crisis hit in 2008: Twilio. The company allowed clients’ developers to embed voice, video, messaging, and authentication directly into applications. They turned the service into a platform, and despite initial competition, the apps based on it began to achieve significant success. One called GroupMe was purchased by Skype for $85 million; Beluga was acquired by Facebook.
However, the company first truly came to prominence when an app built by Lawson to “Rickroll“ people (a prank involving an unexpected appearance of the music video for the 1987 song "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley) exploded in popularity. Shortly afterwards Twilio unveiled Twilio Voice, an API for making and receiving calls that was hosted in the cloud. This was followed by a text messaging API in 2010 and SMS shortcodes in 2011.
The company’s successful rollouts attracted investors. In the next few years, it was able to raise $233.7 million in six rounds of funding from 23 investors. Prominent clients included Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Dell, Sony, and Nordstrom. It continues to grow quickly with over 300 employees and more than 560,000 developers using the service.
Benefits at Twilio
Business model of Twilio
Twilio has a niche market business model, serving a specialized customer segment. Its products target companies that want to embed telecommunications features into applications.
Twilio offers two primary value propositions: customization and flexible pricing.
The company’s platform has a number of options offering customers flexibility. They can build applications with any programming language that communicates standard HTTP. Also, they can ship and iterate new features leveraging their existing technology stack. Lastly, they can scale volume up and down at short notice without any code changes.
The company offers a “pay-as-you-go“ pricing model and automatic volume discounts that scale up and down with usage. This makes it a more cost-effective option than those of similar competitors.
Twilio’s main channel is its direct sales force, through which it acquires new customers. It also markets its offerings through its website.
Twilio’s customer relationship is primarily of a personal assistance nature. The company offers 24/7 e-mail support on all accounts. It also provides plans featuring a higher degree of support. The Guaranteed Response plan moves a customer’s inquiry to the top of the priority list. The Personal Support Engineer Plan offers a dedicated Twilio support engineer for a particular client.
Twilio’s business model consists of maintaining its proprietary software platform for its customers.
Twilio has a program through which it invites “Solution Partners” to work with the company. Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) produce a solution with communications powered by Twilio while System Integrators (SIs) build or integrate Twilio into a client’s existing solution to build new applications for a client or enable communications capabilities. Partners have access to the following resources:
- Placement on Twilio Showcase
- Features in demand generation campaigns
- Twilio support for press releases, blogs, and other online content
- Partner story on Twilio website
- Use of the Twilio Partner logo
- Invites to exhibits at Signal, roadshows, and other events
- Additional co-marketing activities
- Standard Twilio Support
- Discounts on Support Plans
- Virtual Office Hours with Twilio staff
- Access to private betas/early access to new products
- Training for support team
Twilio’s main resource is its proprietary software platform, which is used by over 560,000 developers. It also depends on key human resources such as technology staff to monitor and enhance the platform and customer service staff to address client concerns.
Twilio has a value-driven structure, aiming to provide a value proposition through personal service. Its biggest cost driver is likely customer support/operations, owing to the numerous customer support plans it offers. Other major drivers are sales and marketing and administrative expenses.
Twilio has one revenue stream, the prices it charges for its platform’s various services. These services are as follows:
- Voice: Customers can connect and route voice calls for a low per-minute price.
- SIP Trunking: Customers can instantly provision IP infrastructure with global voice connectivity.
- Client: Customers can communicate over VoIP to any browser or mobile application for a low per-minute price.
- Network Traversal Service: Customers can use free STUN lookup and low-cost TURN media relay capabilities distributed across five continents.
- Messaging: Customers can send SMS and MMS to almost 200 countries.
- TaskRouter: Customers can orchestrate interactions within CRM, Support workflows and IoT using a vendor-agnostic API for intelligent task routing.
- International: Customers can explore connectivity, termination coverage, and instantly-provisionable local, national, toll-free, and short code number availability in almost 200 countries.
- Lookup: Customers can identify local-friendly number formats, reduce undelivered messages, and protect from spam/fraud.
info: Jeff earned a B.S. in Computer Science & Film/Video from the University of Michigan. Prior to starting Twilio he took part in the founding of NineStar, Stubhub, and Versity. He has over 15 years of product and entrepreneurial experience.
info: Roy earned a B.A. in Political Science and B.S. in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley. His past positions include COO of SAP's Cloud Business, VP Global Business Operations at SuccessFactors, and VP at Goldman Sachs.
info: Lee earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Southern California and an MBA from Columbia University. His past positions include CFO of SAY Media, COO and CFO of Videoegg, COO of Kodak Imaging Network, and CFO of Ofoto.
info: Karyn earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia and a J.D. cum laude from Santa Clara University School of Law. She previously worked as Deputy General Counsel at Zynga and as a partner in the San Francisco office of Cooley LLP.
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