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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio (Part 5)

Posted on Friday, Sep 19th 2014

Sramana Mitra: How big is your developer ecosystem? I imagine that part of your strategy is to unleash the whole creativity of the developer ecosystem on your platform.

Jeff Lawson: Yes, we have over 400,000 developers using our platform.

Sramana Mitra: Are these large companies? What’s the mix of that ecosystem?

Jeff Lawson: It’s everything from your Fortune 500 companies like Home Depot and Walmart to your startups.

Sramana Mitra: What percentage of this ecosystem are startups?

Jeff Lawson: I don’t have the exact breakdown of percentages but we represent everything from small businesses to Fortune 500.

Sramana Mitra: The reason I’m asking is that we can anticipate to some extent what the larger companies are going to do with the capability. But some of these offbeat, unique, and interesting new ideas are possibly going to come from the startup ecosystem.

Jeff Lawson: We have a tremendous amount of innovation happening where companies show us new uses for communication that we actually never anticipated. One great example is a simple thing like trying to log into some web application from a new device. The company sends me a text message saying, “Here’s six digits to continue with your login.” It’s a security layer but we never imagined that it will be used that way when we started the company. The customers figured out that this is a good security feature to add into Intuit or Box to secure the login.

Sramana Mitra: That’s actually a good segue into the segment of questions that I want to ask you. I’d like you to look at the industry in general. Tell us what trends you are anticipating. Where would you point entrepreneurs to look for new startup opportunity?

Jeff Lawson: The biggest trends that I think are of interest is software leading the world. Every industry’s going to turn into a software industry. Why? Because software is fundamentally agile. Software allows companies to listen to their customers and respond quickly to the feedback. In a world of survival of the fittest, it’s those companies that iterate most quickly and adapt more quickly that are going to survive. That’s fundamentally software-related companies. Of course, over time, you’re going to see every industry, in essence, turning into a software industry.

Sramana Mitra: I’m looking for more granular perspective. Our audience are software, IT, Internet, and mobile type of people. You are talking to people who are pretty much in tune with your thought process of software leading the world. I’m looking for granular directional guidance for entrepreneurs who basically have their eyes wide open for ideas and opportunities to pick up.

Jeff Lawson: What’s going to happen to companies? First of all, we’re going to have vertically-integrated companies that use the power of software to take on incumbents. If you think about Internet 1.0, the first thing that was built on the Internet was not really about changing how industries work, but just adding a new layer on top of that. Think about travel or lead generation or buying a car. You have websites showing you all the prices of all the dealers and then there’s the link of the dealer. That was your Web 1.0 – removes friction, combines process, and exposes information, which is great.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio
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