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January 9, 2024
Sixteen years after co-founding communications-as-a-service company Twilio, former CEO Jeff Lawson has stepped down. His replacement, now the CPaaS giant's second-ever CEO, is the company's former chief financial, Khozema Shipchandler.
Shipchandler is poised to take the reins of arguably the inventor of CPaaS, which produces more than $4 billion in annual revenue. Twilio disclosed that it appointed board member and lead independent director since 2017, Jeff Epstein, to become the new board chair.
With the company for more than five years, Shipchandler was with General Electric (GE) for 22 years before joining the team at Twilio, primarily in finance-centric roles.
Many have sung Lawson's praises, including UCC analyst at TalkingPointz.com, Dave Michels, who wrote, "Jeff is a genius, and I am sorry to see him go. He has already dismembered his company in a series of cuts. But the financial rules have changed, and Vision only gets partial points," on LinkedIn.
The leadership shake-up follows Dec.4 layoffs that involved some 5% of the company's workforce, or 300 workers.
All of this comes on the heels of investors at Anson Funds, which holds some $50 million in recently purchased shares, asking the board to sell the company outright. Investors at Legion Partners put similar pressure on Twilio, which is why many speculate Lawson stepped down.
Raul Castanon, unified communications and collaboration (UCC) analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence, is bullish on Lawson's years at Twilio.
"By different measures, Jeff’s tenure at Twilio has been very successful," said Castanon.
Castanon shared that as founder and subsequently leading Twilio through an initial public offering (IPO) and becoming a multibillion dollar company, "his strategy has been strong both on the product and financially, consistently keeping Twilio as a leader in the CPaaS space for more than 15 years. Jeff’s accomplishments make one wonder about the reasons behind his departure," he said.
Castanon further noted that while some board members have pressured for profitable growth, the company’s performance over the past two years hit that mark.
"Shipchandler’s appointment appears consistent with the shift to profitable growth, and hopefully he will focus on maintaining the balance between product innovation and healthy finances – something that Jeff was remarkably good at," said Castanon.
Regarding Twilio channel partners and how the leadership shake-up might impact them, Castanon has some thoughts.
"It’ll be paramount to keep an eye on how the company continues to lead in product innovation and R&D investment; this has been a big differentiator for Twilio since its inception," said the analyst.
S&P Global Market Intelligence's Raul Castanon
Additionally, Castanon conveyed "that while its internet-of-things (IoT) divestment is not necessarily a red flag, it will be critical for Twilio to maintain the synergies created with the different offerings in its portfolio, also a key differentiation for the company."
Twilio channel partners, like most in the channel, are also likely looking for stability, something they have had for years in Lawson.
Like most channel programs, Twilio channel partners can access a partner portal and the company's product road map. There is go-to-market support, as well as co-selling opportunities, referral fees and other perks.
The program appears to be for those earnest about going to market with Twilio, as many of the benefits and perks are by invitation-only, meaning partners likely have plenty to do to prove themselves.
There are a lot of certifications and badges that lead to those perks as well, including joining exclusive tiers/programs.
Demonstrating the serious nature of Twilio channel partners, there are a lot of requirements to become a member of that club, including various revenue mandates to become eligible for the levels of the program.
Read more about:Agents
Contributing Editor, Channel Futures
Moshe has nearly a decade of expertise reporting on enterprise technology. Within that world, he covers breaking news, artificial intelligence, contact center, unified communications, collaboration, cloud adoption (digital transformation), user/customer experience, hardware/software, etc.
As a contributing editor at Channel Futures, Moshe covers unified communications/collaboration from a channel angle. He formerly served as senior editor at GetVoIP News and as a tech reporter at UC/CX Today.
Moshe also has contributed to Unleash, Workspace-Connect, Paste Magazine, Claims Magazine, Property Casualty 360, the Independent, Gizmodo UK, and ‘CBD Intel.’ In addition to reporting, he spends time DJing electronic music and playing the violin. He resides in Mexico.
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