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A $US2.5 billion startup that powers Uber and AirBnB is hiring its first Australian employee

Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images.

A massive communications software startup that powers Uber, AirBnB and Netflix behind the scenes is seeking to hire its first employee in Australia.

Twilio, which builds software connectors (application programming interfaces) for other tech companies to consume telecommunications services such as mobile voice and SMS, has a market capitalisation of $US2.51 billion on the NYSE. The company already counts many Australian startups as customers — such as Airtasker, Deputy and ZipMoney – but is now seeking to have a physical presence in the country.

And the first staff member will not necessarily be a local branch head.

“We are building our presence down here, hiring a developer evangelist is a part of that. A country manager is also part of our plans,” Twilio chief operating officer George Hu told Australian media in Sydney.

With the company running an Atlassian-like sales model with little to no sales staff, “developer evangelists” are important in getting the brand into the minds of the software engineers that code for Australia’s startup community.

“Customer acquisition model is almost exclusively – they come to our website, get an API key, build an app, and they start using it,” said Hu.

During his Australian trip, Hu visited Australian fintech ZipMoney, where he said the staff were shocked to have their first interaction with Twilio since taking up their services four years ago.

“You never talk to anyone but you’ve been a customer for that long? It’s really fascinating, this new model.”

San Francisco-headquartered Twilio was founded in 2008 and has more than 800 staff spread internationally. The company announced 2016 revenues of $277.3 million and an operational GAAP loss of $41.3 million, while in May raising caution about future earnings due to slower demand of its service from major customer Uber.

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