Twilio is a cloud communications platform services company. The Cloud, the trendy term used to describe that remote network server place where information and other useful stuff is stored away from computers, is the place where Twilio builds Short Message Service (SMS) and voice and messaging applications on an Application Programming Interface (API) at the global level. Twilio does an exceptional job of it, and they do it in a work environment which supports their employees substantially-above and beyond the norm.
Twilio has built, deployed and succeeded in migrating seamlessly to the Cloud with Uber, Coca Cola Enterprises, The Home Depot, Springt Netflix, Airbnb, Intuit, Trulia, Nordstrom, American Red Cross, EMC2, Dell, VMware, Zendesk, Hulu, Salesforce, eHarmony, Box, Twitter and Yelp.
Twilio focuses on three areas:
- Programmable communications- API for Authentication, Messaging, Voice and Video
Twilio provides the infrastructure and apps are built in the programming language already used by the client.
- A high-quality network experience- reach anyone in the world
Twilio provides their distributed software layer allowing clients the ability to reach everyone right away.
- A business model for innovators- just five minutes to get started
Twilio allows businesses to use their own app prototype, pay for services used, and scale up on demand, without contracts.
It’s All About Building Blocks
Twilio refers to their services as communication building blocks. Clients use the blocks to build great communication services tailored to their business needs. There are three giant blocks:
- Voice & Video– this block involves making, receiving, and controlling calls from any app. Twilio designs voice and video solutions for creating calling experiences among apps, phones, and VoIP systems, and they stick to the programming language each business already uses. They provide access to the carrier network globally using communications infrastructure which is hosted across five continents. They offer seven practical communication solutions:
- Phone to phone: programmable voice
- App to phone: Twilio Client global call center
- App to app: programmable video
- Many to many: global audio conference
- VoIP to anywhere: SIP interface
- Carrier connectivity: elastic SIP trunking
- IP Media relay: network traversal service
- Messaging– this block includes all solutions for text messaging, picture messaging, in-app chats and notifications.
- Authentication– this block includes products for strengthening or replacing traditional logins for websites, mobile apps and SaaS products
Beyond the Basics
Twilio is a company which offers superior communication services, enabling phones, messaging and VoIP to become embedded within desktop, mobile software and the web. Twilio scales with clients’ needs automatically and does it with intelligence, and no contracts. Providing great communication products evolves from the company because it is formed upon great core values. These are the driving force behind all the decisions and products the company makes.
Live the spirit of challenge
This is about pushing harder to tackle problems, with the knowledge that being terrified is a symptom of challenging ourselves more.
This is a vow to make others heroes, whether they are part of the company or clients.
Start with why
This is a goal of using data to challenge all assumptions and to understand why, and what, customers care about.
This requires all Twilio personnel to instill admiration for and confidence in each interaction with customers.
This simply means to be transparent, direct, thoughtful and honest…always.
This encourages all workers to seek to understand first and then be understood, because everyone can still learn something.
Think at scale
This kind of thinking anticipates where Twilio is headed, and reminds employees to invest in systems which will provide consistent experiences for customers as the company also grows.
Draw the owl
This is a reference to art instruction and design books. It reminds employees that they are innovators without instruction manuals, and with the ability to figure out the new creation… what to design, ship, and then iterate.
Accomplishing more with less allows the company to do even more. Profit allows the company to achieve more goals.
About Twilions and Their Work
Twilions are what people who work with Twilio call themselves. They work in small teams to build great products quickly and intelligently. There are Twilions working around the world. You will find them in:
- San Francisco, CA Headquarters
- Mountain View, CA
- Lower Manhattan, NY
- Bogota, Colombia
- Dublin, Ireland
- London, England
- Tallinn, Estonia
- Munich, Germany
- Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Twilion departments and teams include Engineering, Sales, Product, Support, Marketing, Business, Developer Network and General & Administrative. Every Twilion is considered a leader and follows the company Leadership Principles while working. They all view leadership as “a behavior, not a position”. The Leadership Principles believe good leaders:
- Wear the customer’s shoes -solve problems from the customer’s point of view and experience
- Leave teams as their legacies – build the team which will be successful now and for the future; hire people better than themselves
- Have a point of view – address conflict head on and deal with matters of importance without ambivalence
- Seek progress over perfection – value experimentation and progress rather than fear making wrong decisions
- Make colleagues better – challenge, empower and support colleagues and don’t worry about being the smartest person in the room
- Are intellectually honest – seek truth through debate, data and experimentation, embracing the truth whether the news is good or bad
- Are adaptable – use experience to identify patterns and recognize current facts without needing to stick to old behavior patterns
- Are relentless about success – display grit through adversity and drive toward the best results
The Rewards of Being a Twilion
For all their hard work, devotion to their customers and intelligent talent, Twilions have many perks. They can take vacation time off when they need it, with no minimum amount of hours accrued necessary. They have excellent healthcare with full medical, dental and vision insurance. They also have life insurance, travel and gym stipends. They can participate in 401 (k) and periodically hosted financial programs. Commuter benefits include pre-tax transit dollars, $20 a month for their daily bike rides, and Zipcar perks. When they build and present a Twilio app, they earn their Twilio track jacket, a Kindle and $30 a month for books. They enjoy catered meals, including lunch, family dinners and a fully-stocked kitchen. There are also company lunches with organized talks and company dinners weekly, plus a cereal dispenser.
The company offers opportunities for management training at UC Berkeley, structured 6 and 12-month employee reviews, and feedback loops to managers which are direct and unstructured. Internal programs include code coaching, programming basics, participation in community events, volunteer opportunities, weekly tech talks from external and internal speakers, and Macs for employees’ use rounds out the list.
The company also hosts Twilio University, bringing the brightest students to the San Francisco headquarters to work on projects. The company offers holidays, commuter benefits, fitness, housing, roundtrip airfare and fringe benefits for program participants.
The Twilio “send A Billion Messages for Good” program helps non-profit organizations to better connect with the world by offering kick start credits and discounts with no upfront investments. Twilio has helped Zidisha entrepreneurs, Doctors Without Borders, the Guide Dog Association, the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, a Chicago South Side revitalization, the Exploratorium’s interactive museum exhibits, BeFree human trafficking survivors, Hello Lamp Post, and Ghana’s IDEO.org.
Though Twilio is obviously worth much more than money in terms of its value to its customers, its high level of care for its employees and its vision for future creativity and longevity. But money is that one piece of data that tells the story of how successful the Twilions have been in their efforts to maintain an amazing set of corporate values in a world where profit ensures working security.
In May 2015, Forbes staff writer Alex Konrad wrote about the tech startup’s authorization of the Series E funding round. It was the first in almost two years. The Delaware filing included documents which authorized 8,841,730 new shares issued at $11.31 per share. The new price gave Twilio’s outstanding total shares in the amount of 100 million a valuation of $1.1 billion. Regardless of the financial investor details and all the hubbub about the quietly raised funding round and no notice of any new investors mentioned, the cloud communications company certainly has all the marks of doing things right…both for their customers and their employees.
To add to the excitement, in June 2016, Twilio increased its offerings to $15 a share. This raised the 2016 company valuation to $1.23 billion. It was founded in 2008, and has already raised $233 million in venture capital during its lifetime. Investors have included Amazon, Salesforce Ventures, and Chris Sacca’s Lowercase Capital. Twilio is in growth mode, with active accounts totaling 28,000 customers ending Q1 of 2016. All in all, its quite sublime to see a company with strong values and dedication to making the work world a better place for its employees seeming doing well. This may be the time to simply say “Thank goodness for Twilions”, and then emulate their best practices ourselves.