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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Sep 15th 2014

Did you know that the core technology at the heart of apps like Uber and Lyft is a relatively lesser known cloud-based communication platform called Twilio? Read on!

Sramana Mitra: Let’s introduce our audience to yourself as well as Twilio to begin with.

Jeff Lawson: I’m the CEO and Co-founder of Twilio. Twilio is communication-as-a-service. What we do is we allow companies to use our communication infrastructure running in the cloud to build and innovate applications that they need to communicate. Customers span companies from the Fortune 500 to innovative startups like Airbnb and Uber. They use Twilio’s communication capabilities to fundamentally create a better customer experience that closes the loop in some kind of application that needs to talk to human beings. Our mission is to migrate 150 years of telecommunications history – that 150 year old hardware – into a future that is in software. That’s where we see the future of communications going.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s double-click on some of your customers who are building on top of your platform. Let us do some customer use cases. I think that would really get us deeper into the technology as well as the business model.

Jeff Lawson: Let’s look at call centers. Companies constantly need to communicate with customers. In fact, when you contact the company, it’s oftentimes one of the most critical points in your experience working with that company. Maybe they’re trying to close a sale with you, or maybe they’re having trouble with their product. Leading companies are using Twilio to build a great customer experience within the call center using Twilio instead of turning to a monolithic solution based on hardware. Companies are turning to Twilio and doing their own software and running it in the cloud. The benefit they get is being able to iterate quickly.

Home Depot is one of our customers here. When they needed a new call center to service customers, they looked at their options. They knew how to do it the old way by going out and buying a multi-million dollar solution with Cisco, and spending 18 to 24 months deploying it. The problem with that, other than the time and expense, is also the fact that at the end of that road, they don’t really have a solution that’s flexible. You’re stuck with what your vendors sold you as a pre-packaged solution. They were able to build a call center using our building blocks. They were able to deploy it in just two months. Instead of two years, it goes down to two months. The savings of time and of what it took to build and deploy something is massive. Instead of spending millions of dollars upfront, they instead spend dozens of dollars upfront because Twilio is not a capital expenditure. Our pricing is pay-as-you-go. Scales down to early days of prototyping and scales up based on how much you use.

In addition to savings, the best part of what Home Depot was able to do with Twilio was their ability to iterate rapidly after they were done. Two months in, they had the first version up and running. This software gives agility and flexibility. What Twilio is doing is bringing that flexibility and agility to the world of communications.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio
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