Why voice and messaging specialist Twilio thinks communications should ‘disappear’


When Jeff Lawson co-founded Twilio back in 2008, Facebook wasn’t foremost among potential competitors. He might want to reorder his list.

The social network’s strategy to turn Messenger into a platform for business communications echoes Twilio’s founding mission—to embed real-time texting, phone calls and (most recently) video communications into mobile apps and Web services.

Twilio sells application programming interfaces (APIs) that are the secret sauce behind the text messages that Uber passengers receive when their ride is nearby. It drives interactions handled by Home Depot’s 2,200-plus contact centers. Another recent customer is Nordstrom, which uses Twilio’s technology as the foundation for a “concierge” service that links sales associates with shoppers. Other prominent customers include Alaska Airlines, Box, Coca-Cola, Intuit, OpenTable, and Walmart.

“[We’re] reducing friction, using software to integrate the communication with the rest of the experience [customers are] having inside the workflow,” Lawson said. “When you do…

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