Interview: Twilio’s programmable comms, making a big play for Australia

Communication platforms are an intensely competitive market, with the fight for market share powered by a want to deliver the infrastructure to support human communication across the globe. Twilio is...

Communication platforms are an intensely competitive market, with the fight for market share powered by a want to deliver the infrastructure to support human communication across the globe. Twilio is a service that has been internationally successful with clients like Uber, Airbnb, Airtasker, but is now turning their attention to the 24 million Australians.

I had a chance to Q&A with Patrick Malatack, VP Product Management at Twilio. His responses are expensive and gives a great insight into the company’s successes to date and goals for the future.

 

Twilio has had great international success and is now working with Australian companies. Why should other Australian companies or startups look to Twilio for services ?

With Twilio, developers and businesses can grow and expand their businesses faster than ever before. Businesses like Zendesk and Uber have relied on Twilio when they expanded into Australia and we are excited to see many Australian-based companies like AirTasker, Whispir, and Fixed Price Car Service leverage Twilio to power their communications both in Australia and abroad.

This is all thanks to Twilio’s super network, a software layer that spans 7 continents, 22 data centers and connects with carriers in every corner of the world. As Twilio’s customers grow, so does our network and every time the network grows, it becomes more intelligent and more efficient. Twilio can reach nearly every phone on the planet, offers a 99.95% SLAs on our API and has achieved an agility and resiliency that’s simply not possible with legacy communications. That’s a significant advantage companies can benefit from. 

 

Can you provide some detail on the work you’ve done with local companies Airtasker, Freelancer, FixedPriceCarService and Whisper (and others). What are some of the benefits they’ve been able to accomplish as a result of using your services?

Fixed Price Car Service (https://customers.twilio.com/1269/fixed-price-car-service/)
Fixed Price Car Service built a connected call center using the Twilio APIs in 6 weeks with just 1.5 people on the development team. They were able to reduce call center costs by 50% by using Twilio Voice and TaskRouter and integrate Twilio with their existing CRM solutions to create an excellent customer experience that’s seamless across all touch points.

Airtasker (https://customers.twilio.com/1283/airtasker/)
Airtasker approached Twilio because they discovered that Twilio offers high reliability over both IP and carrier networks, and it required minimal development effort. The company uses Twilio Masked Phone Numbers so users don’t ever have to share their personal phone numbers with the Airtasker workers until they are comfortable. They also use SMS to expedite the payment process which greatly improved the customer experience. Since integrating Twilio in 2014, Airtasker has increased transaction volume by 4X.

Freelancer.com
Freelancer.com is one of the world’s largest freelancing, outsourcing and crowdsourcing marketplaces in Australia. They connect over 20 million employers and freelancers globally from over 247 countries, regions and territories in over 900 diverse areas of expertise. They are currently using Twilio for Account & Phone Number Verification of their users.  Freelancer.com came to Twilio because they wanted more control of their communications costs and metrics on one global platform. They also relied on Twilio to help them resolve the pain points of messages not being delivered in difficult emerging markets in South Asia.

Whispir is one of our SaaS partners and they are using Twilio for SMS + Voice delivery primarily in the United States.  Whispir came to us because they recognized that Twilio is the market leader in the US and partnering enabled them to execute their GTM strategies effectively.

 

One of your key selling points is business efficiency, which ultimately comes down to cost. How does Twilio’s offer a price or efficiency advantage over the competition?

Cloud platforms like Twilio allow developers to experiment and prototype new ideas very inexpensively. If it doesn’t work out, you can move on to the next idea with only a few dollars spent. When you’re building on a cloud platform like Twilio, whose business model is usage-based, the cost of failure is cheap. That means the cost of innovation is lower than ever which creates a really incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs and business owners.

 

How important is your developer community and how do you go about engaging with them to ensure you deliver the right changes and features to the API ?

Today, every company is becoming a technology company and software is what allows one company to differentiate from its competitors. In this transition, developers are becoming a lot more important because they build the experiments and the prototypes — and those turn into production apps and scale globally. That concept is fueling the growth of Twilio and other API-first companies like Stripe and AWS.

Developers will continue to be Twilio’s first priority, regardless of our size. At our heart, Twilio is a company built by developers, for developers.

 

Twilio has quite a diverse range of offerings, are there any new areas of business you’d like to venture into ?

Twilio’s mission is to fuel the future of communications. That means that we are and will continue to be the one platform developers can use to build any type of communication into their application anywhere in the world- whether that’s a voice call, a text message, a video session, a web chat or any other channel that comes around in the future.

We think IoT is a space that’s really moving rapidly. We have focused on our Programmable Wireless product here but there are many other components that developers need in order for IoT to work at scale. AWS has invested in this space, so has IBM and we are really excited about its future.

 

You offer support for a pretty extensive number of programming languages, which would you say is most commonly used by developers?

The popularity of a programming language varies depending on where you live, what kind of projects you work on, your personal coding philosophy and where you learned to code among other things. The great thing about Twilio is that our APIs support any language and we’re constantly looking to add new languages to our helper libraries so that whatever language you prefer, you have the resources you need to build with Twilio.

 

Prior to joining Twilio, you worked at Microsoft, what the differences between organisations in terms of corporate culture? What made you join Twilio ?

When I joined and still today, Twilio is made up of “Builders.” I say builders rather than developers because building is a mindset and can apply to everyone in the organization, technical or not. If you’re in finance you can be a builder of financial models, in HR you can be a builder of a recruiting engine or performance management systems. I sensed the builder mindset when I interviewed at Twilio and that culture remains here today. Builders look not at the way things are but instead about what they could be. Then, builders make that “could be” a reality.

 

What strategies do you employ to increase your market share particularly in relation to making product decisions and employing the right people to make the best products?

From the start, job number one at Twilio has been to take care of the customers. In practice, that means every decision we make,  whether that’s a new product, the people we hire, the way we organize teams and even our business model has been decided with the customers’ needs in mind. Everything ties back to creating a platform that is resilient and can adapt quickly for our customers.  As Twilio’s customers grow, so does our network and every time the network grows, it becomes more intelligent and more efficient.

From our perspective, happy customers are the number one driver of growth.

 

Last year, Twilio went public, raising $150 Million in funding. How is Twilio deploying this capital to grow the business and make better products and services for customers?

Twilio is focused on building a great company for the long term. A few initiatives we’re currently working on are growing our reach in the developer community, expanding our platform from a product perspective, driving penetration within the enterprise and continuing to expand internationally.

 

What’s the hardest problem you’re working on right now? The thing that keeps you awake at night ?

At Twilio we say job #1 is operations and security. Job #2 is everything else. When you bet on a cloud platform you are betting that a focused partner is able to so something better than you could if you built it yourself. If its CRM, you a betting Salesforce can run it better than you could. As such, we put an inordinate amount of time on uptime, availability and service quality. Accomplishing this at scale for all the world’s communication workloads is a super hard problem.

 

More information at https://www.twilio.com

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This post is authored by techAU staffers. Used rarely and sparingly when the source decided to keep their identity secret, or a guest author who isn’t seeking credit.