TOUR: At Twilio, Every Employee Must Build An App And Draw An Owl


Photo: Boonsri Dickinson, Business Insider

Employees of San Francisco startup Twilio all have one thing in common. They have to build a Twilio app and present it to everyone in the company. They’re also encouraged to “draw the owl,” or solve hard problems without much coaching.

Find out what’s up with the owl→

Twilio offers a lot of freedom and encourages a can-do attitude.

Even people who don’t work there anymore rave about the company. A former employee, William Tran, told us: “It was a place where programmers can be free and the best of the best create some of the most spectacular things ever.” 

We paid a visit last week. Here’s what we saw…

Here we are Twilio's headquarters in San Francisco. It's a couple blocks from SAI's West Coast Headquarters.

Twilio just moved into the first floor of this building. The company is now at 100 employees, so they needed more room!

The first thing you have to do when you get a job here is build a Twilio app, even if you're not an engineer. On Wednesday nights, the employees demo their apps here.

Michael Selvidge is definitely not an engineer. He's in charge of communications at Twilio. He spent a weekend building an app.

His app went viral after New York Times reporter Jenna Wortham tweeted it to her nearly half a million followers. Call 719-26-OATES and you hear a hotline where you can play one of four Hall & Oates songs.

Sales associate Andrew Jordan, executive assistant Natasha Whitledge, and sales manager Juan Thurman are baking brownies. They had a group outing in Lake Tahoe and bought too many eggs.They didn't want the extra eggs to go to waste.

When it's someone's birthday, they get to spin this wheel and win a prize. One of the prizes is an iPad.

This is on the third floor. The old entrance...

The conference rooms are named after inventors.

This is where Twilio's cofounder and CEO Jeff Lawson sits.

We caught Lawson in the middle of a meeting with a roomful of other employees. We don't know what they were talking about though.

This is the other cofounder Evan Cooke. He met Lawson in college at The University of Michigan. See that thing behind him?

Here's where that owl thing came from -- a funny Web site that makes you draw an owl.

Jonas Borjesson got an an owl, as he proudly showed off here.

Josh Gomez is working in the loft area. He's making a site for an upcoming party.

The do-it-yourself culture is prevalent here. There's even a 3D printer! You can see the regular printer in the back.

Check out Taskrabbit to see how they use their own service to get out of doing chores.

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