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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio (Part 7)

Posted on Sunday, Sep 21st 2014

Sramana Mitra: So there is a lot going on in the virtual currency payment space. That whole area right now is very active innovation-wise.

Jeff Lawson: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: It’s probably the most active it has been in a long time.

Jeff Lawson: I think there’s an opportunity. I suspect that in 10 years, my primary banking relationship will not be with an incumbent in some ways, shape, or form. Primarily, I will be dealing more with a software-related company.

Sramana Mitra: Wealth management has really not been what it was promised to be. I remember the company MyCFO. It was supposed to be this wealth management software.

Jeff Lawson: We’ve seen wealth funds, right?

Sramana Mitra: That wave is coming back. It’s been a good conversation. I love what you’re doing. I’ve been following your work for a while. It’s very interesting.

I actually do think that you are providing the core technical block for a lot of different things like Uber. Of course, there’s a huge logistics piece that they’re providing, but there’s that core technology piece that comes from you, which is at the heart of that innovation. Congratulations on that!

Jeff Lawson: I like to make sure that I give credit to them.

Sramana Mitra: They’re doing a phenomenal job. I’m sure the idea didn’t come from you. The idea came from them and they have executed.

Jeff Lawson: We’ve been really big fans of Uber. It’s a great demonstration of phenomenal customer experience. We are really proud to power that. We are also really proud to be helping them to build that great customer experience. We, very early on, recognized that in the legacy world of communication, communication is a geo-political bounded industry. Every geography has its own set of companies. It used to be that these were, oftentimes, government or pseudo-government entities. So every country has its own set of carriers and if you want to operate in a global basis, you have to go to every country and do business development with all of those different telcos.

We’re putting communications in a software. Software people are our customers. These customers don’t know anything about geographic boundaries. You build a website and anybody in the world can come to it. If you build a mobile app, it’s live in the app store in 120 countries overnight. There’s no such thing as geographic boundaries to software.

We’re going to do the same thing for telecommunications. We’re going to erase the geo-political boundaries from communication, so all you need to do is give us the phone number of your customer and we can reach them via text or voice. We can reach anybody who has a phone number in all the 1,200 carriers in about 200 countries around the world. That’s pretty important.

Sramana Mitra: It’s very powerful.

Jeff Lawson: It’s like email. You don’t have to know what country they live in to send someone an email. That’s how software works. Communication hasn’t been that way. Think about the old world. You pick up a phone anywhere and you hear dial tone. That was the substrate that connected everything together in the hardware world. In the new world of software, API is the new dial tone.

Sramana Mitra: It’s very exciting. Thank you very much for your time.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio
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