My interview of Jeff Lawson CEO and Co-Founder of Twilio; reminded me of the quote from Thomas Friedman, the NY Times Columnist who said: "[Ten years ago,] Facebook didn’t exist, Twitter was still a sound, the cloud was still in the sky, 4G was a parking place, LinkedIn was a prison, applications were what you sent to college, big data was a rap star, Skype was a typo,”. The reason I thought about Friedman's quote was that changes of similar magnitude are taking shape in Communication using solutions from Twilio the company Jeff Lawson started. So, I asked Jeff about his motivation and reason to start Twilio.
Jeff: "The reason I started Twilio was that at every one of my previous companies where we were developing a solution, "communication" was always the bottle neck. So, we started Twilio to fundamentally change how businesses go about building commutation and transform this 100 year old industry with it's hardware legacy. We wanted to bring that agility and flexibility that software had and bring that to the world of communications".
Question: So, the goal is to disrupt the Communications?
Jeff: "It's really was about the modernization of the Communication industry which allows our clients to offer flexible and agile communication solution in software".
Question: Like Tesla's challenges with the regulations and entrenched bureaucracies; is Twilio facing similar challenges?
Jeff: "That's a great parallel. I regard Tesla as software on wheels. And the agility and the power of software to respond to changes quickly is what we also bring to the Communication market. Like any other disrupt-er in the industry like Uber, Tesla, we face challenges as well. The job of an innovator or a dis-rupter is to bridge the world from the Old to the New. And that is a process. The companies that successfully bridge the current and move you to the New step by step".
Question: What is unique about Twillio's API?!
Jeff: Today our API allows companies to buy phone numbers in 50 countries, on demand, send and receive messages in a matter of days and scale these solutions for as much as they need and pay for only the portion they use. This in contrast to what would have taken years to build with hard ware and roll it out in years vs days with our API.
Twilio's Platform offers the API's that can be utilized to develop Communication Solutions such as :
- Mobile Customer Service
- Predictive Dialing
- Call Recording
- Proactive Alerts
- Automated Surveys
- Screen Pop
- Voice Broadcasting
- Click to Call
- Cloud IVR
- Call Tracking
- Two Factor Authentication
- Integrated Help Desk
- Mobile App Distribution
These communication solutions developed by Twilio's API have been instrumental in solving some unique problems. For instance, when Democratic National Congress (DNC) wanted to offer voters an opportunity to notify any suspicious activity at polling places, their developers reached for Twilio API to build an application. Another neat application was for Community engagement by Philadelphia Police Department. In Philadelphia, the police are using Twilio's API in their application that masks the phone number of the tipsters allowing them to remain anonymous. This has led to more community involvement and helped police become much more engaged with the citizens of Philadelphia.
So, I could not resist asking Jeff about what keeps him up at night and what is your biggest concerns?!
Jeff: "Like most rapidly growing companies we are facing very competitive talent market in the Bay Area and I worry about how we are scaling the culture, resources and processes of the company. I meet every new hire on their 1st day which we call "Twilio 101" where I talk about the company's history, mission and values. And I love doing that"
My final questions from Jeff was about if they offer their employees any free time to innovate?
Jeff: "We actually have set up something in our R&D organisation called TWEEK, or Twilio Week..... which is an organized activity where anyone with fresh and innovative ideas can team up with others to develop any new idea they have. The only catch is that they have to be able to demo something in the 2nd week. And we do that twice a year".
My conclusion was that Twilio is well on it's way to empower developers to challenge giant Communication companies with new innovative solutions powered by software that runs in the Cloud!