‘API economy’ company Twilio coming to Australia
- 21 June, 2017 09:15
Twilio, a US based, listed company that enables software developers to incorporate communications services via a set of application programming interfaces (APIs), is looking for a ‘developer evangelist’ and a country manager to give the company its first presence in Australia.
Chief operating officer George Hu told a press briefing in Sydney: “This is a high growth market for us and we want to try and accelerate that growth. We will start with the developer evangelist and also a country manager, build out a small team and see how the market responds.”
He said the company’s business model was to offer services direct to developers. Twilio takes care of all relationships — commercial and technical — with telecommunications service providers and network operators to enable developers to provide communication and messaging functionality in their apps on a pay-per-use basis.
“Twilio was built by developers for developers,” he said. “We provide a set of APIs that enable developers to very easily programmatically control every aspect of communications, whether that is to send messages, phone calls, video chat or even programmable sim cards to manage IoT devices.”
As such, Hu said the company did very little marketing, and had no channel partners. “Our customer acquisition model is almost exclusively developers coming to our web site, getting an API key and building an app, putting in their credit card and starting to use it.”
He said the company had grown to annual revenues of $275 million, with 1.5 million developers using its services and 40,000 paying customers based on this model, but with very large customers such as Uber now using its services and companies using Twilio for mission critical applications it was becoming increasingly important to have high level, customer interfacing staff.
“One of the reasons I was brought into the company was to build out customer facing operations,” Hu said. “The truth is that when a customer gets to a certain spend range and level of mission criticality they want someone they can talk to. That is what Angie [APAC director Angie Bell] does all day.”
He added: “We are going to do more and more of that, but the strength of the company is energising the developers. That's why it is important for us to get that developer evangelist.”
Twilio counts among its Australian customers online payments company ZipMoney, Airtasker and the NSW OneGov service.
According to Hu it is part of the API economy, a term that describes the way APIs can positively affect an organisation's profitability.
A Forbes magazine article in January claimed that 2017 was becoming “the year of the API economy,” saying “CIOs must create and launch new business models faster to keep their companies competitive. APIs are the fuel helping to make this happen.”
Hu said industry trends such as bring-your-own-device and customers wanting new ways to interact with organisations were significant factors driving the uptake of Twilio’s services.
“In the US we have matured our business to the point were a lot of the largest most significant tech and non-tech companies are doing their communications on the Twilio platform.”
In addition to its main business (twilio.com) Twilio also runs a parallel operation (twilio.org) that provides its communications services to non-profit organisations at a discount on its standard pricing.