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Twilio: The Unsung Hero of the App Dev World

Just when you thought the world couldn’t be any more connected than it already is, technology rises to the occasion. Enter Twilio, the cloud-based communications platform allowing people to connect in more ways than ever before. Twilio has made its mark by offering programmable communications with an API for voice, messaging, video, and authentication that offers a universal infrastructure for convenient compatibility with any coding language already in use. Twilio is a developer’s dream and an app’s parent company’s quintessential framework, delivering innovative solutions to the entire network.

 

It’s safe to say Twilio is a big fish in a big pond. The company has proven itself time and time again with major players like WhatsApp and Uber, which have deeply integrated not only their communication processes but also their key business models with Twilio. Twilio allows companies of all sizes to welcome innovation without costing their users by way of inconvenience or infringing on their privacy. The silky smooth integrations and consummate value made it easy for companies like Salesforce, Coca-Cola, Netflix, Nordstrom, Expedia, New York Times, Lyft, and Airbnb (among others) to say yes to founder Jeff Lawson and his hidden gem of a brainchild.

 

Jeff Lawson: The Bright Spark behind Twilio

Every company starts somewhere. Although it now boasts 30,000-some customers, Twilio enjoyed its grass roots experience as a bit of a fun party trick. Creator Jeff Lawson had the early opportunity to introduce the power of Twilio at the SF New Tech Meetup’s social mixer. Deciding to show rather than tell, he put together lines of code before the group, creating an active conference line into which all the networking group participants dialed in. Following the call, his program dialed everyone back to thank them for joining the call, setting the room abuzz with excitement.

 

Twilio’s Lawson is no stranger to business startups and pushing the ceiling ever higher. From his middle school days, he produced and edited event videos for profit. By the end of high school, he advanced to black tie weddings, earning more in a weekend than most kids of that age would know what to do with. During his first year at the University of Michigan, he learned to code and took on his first paid gig as a programmer while still attending school. Lawson’s vision only improved as he launched a startup, Versity.com, which published notes from the main college courses of the time. Upon its success, Lawson left college and took Versity.com to Silicon Valley where it was acquired by CollegeClub.com.

 

The dotcom bubble burst before anything came of it, yet Lawson didn’t let that stop him. He partnered on development for StubHub in its infancy, as well as teaming up on the hush-hush development and launch of Amazon Web Services (AWS). It was through this latter role that Lawson conceived of Twilio, and that Twilio essentially gained its launch pad. Selling key technical components as a service found favor as a successful model and Lawson found a good fit for expanding the concept in the communications space. Going live first on AWS, Twilio impressed developers and gained initial traction as a unique offering through a platform born of a similar philosophy.

 

With a 2016 valuation of more than 1 billion, Twilio earned its status as a “unicorn,” joining other key tech firms like Uber, Airbnb, and Snapchat, among others. Even after Twilio went public and earned more than anticipated with its IPO, CEO Jeff Lawson continues to be a shrewd businessman focused on being humble as well as frugal.

 

 

 

 

Examples of Twilio in Action

Twilio seems to be a unicorn of a different color, offering instant access to its full arsenal of development goodies that are wrapped up in pretty packaging as an “infrastructure as a service” solution. Twilio powers more than 75 billion connections each year, spanning roughly 1 billion devices. Its business model brilliantly opens the door to incalculable partnerships and limitless possibilities as technology continues to progress.

 

Some key examples of Twilio’s influence include:

  • Airbnb automates bookings with Twilio’s SMS messages and confirmations.
  • American Red Cross dispatches volunteers more quickly via Twilio’s SMS.
  • Coca-Cola coordinates speedy repairs by way of texting through Twilio and Salesforce.
  • eHarmony improved the personal connections available with online dating by using Twilio for voice calls without sharing actual phone numbers.
  • Hulu created a call center environment with Twilio to provide exceptional customer service.
  • Intuit employs Twilio for two-factor verification to protect customers from online security threats.
  • Netflix relies on Twilio’s SMS and voice to deliver swift password resets and send alerts.
  • Nordstrom ups the ante with personal shopping texting and picture messaging through Twilio.
  • Trulia makes better connections between Realtors and consumers, converting new leads into customers at 100x greater conversion rates.

 

Dubbed “the mightiest unicorn,” Twilio plainly and simply allows phones, VoIP, and messaging to be embedded into web, desktop, and mobile software. The service alleviates much of the complexity and obscurity of various setups and coding frameworks. When it all comes down to it, Twilio is pretty much whatever developers and tech space entrepreneurs want it to be. Therein lies the magic.

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