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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio (Part 4)

Posted on Thursday, Sep 18th 2014

Sramana Mitra: This is a very good discussion. Give me some more interesting use cases. What other segments or interesting creative ideas are you seeing in your developer ecosystem?

Jeff Lawson: We’ve got pretty much every sharing account including companies like Airbnb and TaskRabbit. In the sharing economy, you use technology to connect supply and demand using the Internet, and now more importantly, using mobile. Part of creating that market involves facilitating the transaction and communication between the buyer and seller. Twilio provides that to all these companies.

The key use case here is making that communication safe and secure. When you’re connecting millions of people to each other, you want to make sure that it’s a safe marketplace. You want to make sure that people don’t feel like their cellphone number is out there for anyone to access. That’s where these companies turn to Twilio for secure and anonymous communication.

Let’s say you’re staying at Airbnb. You call the host or the host calls you. You actually do not give them the actual cellphone number of the other party. In fact, what you’re doing is you’re calling a Twilio number that, via software, is being routed to the host for the duration of your stay. That provides a great degree of security in that transaction. We see this happening in all of those crowd-sourced companies. We also see it in the immediate verticals like the dating industries. These guys are customers of ours. They’re not matchmaking rooms but of actual dates.

Sramana Mitra: That’s a cool one. That’s cute. Anything else you want to cover in use cases?

Jeff Lawson: The Internet of Things is a fascinating area of growth. Companies use Twilio to connect things to their cloud and then the cloud back to the people who want to know what’s going on.

Sramana Mitra: Tell me more about what specifically is happening there.

Jeff Lawson: Do you know about SmartThings, which was recently acquired by Samsung?

Sramana Mitra: Yes.

Jeff Lawson: They’re a customer of ours. They provide the ability to connect gadgets in your home to a smart hub. One of the key aspects of the Internet of Things is you have these sensors collecting data. At some point, the data collected becomes interesting. When it does, you typically want to alert a human being to that fact. SmartThings incorporates Twilio SMS into their solution.

For example, I have a SmartThings installation in my home. If somebody leaves the garage door open, I get a text message saying, “The garage door has been open for 20 minutes.” Pretty much any event you can imagine that could happen in the Smart Home or the Internet of Things world that generates information can be turned into an alert for the customer.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio
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