With A Rumoured $US500 Million Valuation, Twilio CEO Says He's Not Focused On An IPO

Communication is core to what we do as human beings, Twilio co-founder and CEO Jeff Lawson says.

Lawson realised this after founding three startups, including ticket resale site StubHub, and during his stint as product manager for Amazon Web Services.

So about five years ago, Lawson set out to launch cloud communications startup Twilio. In a nutshell, Twilio helps app developers embed voice and text messages into their applications.

Today, Twilio is growing like crazy and powers communications for companies like Uber, Quora, Airbnb, ride-sharing service Lyft, The Home Depot, and finance app Mint.

Back in May, Twilio raised a $US70 million Series D round, bringing its total funding to $US104 million. This year, Twilio is on track to bring in $US50 million in revenue. It has a rumoured valuation of $US500 million, making it a likely candidate for an IPO.

“There’s been a lot of speculation,” Lawson tells Business Insider. “Our focus is on building a great company. IPOs are financing events on the road. If you’re successful in building a great company, you have the privilege of that point of become a public company if that’s what you want to do. So our focus is on building a great company. We don’t have any specific focus on an IPO.”

As tech companies continue to create new devices, Lawson says Twilio will fit right in.

“Anything software people can dream up is possible,” Lawson says. “Communication is a part of everything we do. Think of smartwatches, Google Glass, Web browsers — these are just the means software people are using to access.”

Twilio formed at just the right time, Lawson says. That’s because there are two big changes happening in the world of communications right now.

For one, essentially everything has moved to the cloud. Big enterprise companies have moved data from the closet to the cloud. Companies like Amazon have moved infrastructure to the cloud, and communications is next, Lawson says.

But there’s also a notion that we’ve migrated our communications from special purpose devices to general purpose computers.

Devices used to only be able to do one thing. The phone, for example, had just the one application of making a call. If you wanted a new feature, like three-way calling, you’d have to buy a new one.

“All of our communications are turning away from this esoteric land of special purpose hardware that only the telecom gurus were really innovating in into a world where anyone with software development skills can innovate,” Lawson says. “Now it’s not just the telecom people who can dominate.”

Lawson hinted that the company has big things planned for next month. Without giving away too much detail, Lawson said Twilio will continue to come up with new ways to communicate, expand to other countries, and make it easier for developers to build advanced functionality on top of Twilio’s developer tools.

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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