What does Twilio do?

Call me, text me, if you want to reach me

For a while, Twilio ($TWLO, $65B) made noise by putting up these billboards around San Francisco (last time I was there, I think a few were still up). The idea was that they didn’t need to advertise any specifics about the product – it was so popular, and so ubiquitous among technical teams, that all you needed to do was “ask your developer.”

Well, dear readers, I am your developer. And so today, we’re diving into Twilio, what exactly they do, and why that makes them worth so much cold hard cash.


Twilio makes a suite of products that help you communicate with your customers via SMS, video, calls, and more.

  • Web and mobile apps need to communicate with users: think SMS and email code confirmations, etc.

  • On the backend, getting a phone number set up to send and receive texts / calls from programmatically is a huge PITA

  • Twilio started with one product – a simple SDK for programmatic SMS / calls

  • Since then, they’ve expanded the product suite to video, email, and WhatsApp

Like Stripe did with payments, Twilio took one piece of the developer workflow with a particularly tedious set of constraints, made it really simple to do via well designed APIs, and made a boatload of money off of it. A pattern I smell perhaps??

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