As of this week and after almost four years, I’m not a Twilio employee anymore. I’m writing this while I work through a range of conflicting emotions, and try to adapt to new daily routines without Twilio in my life. Before you jump to conclusions let me clarify that I have not been laid off. The decision to leave the company was mine alone.

When I joined Twilio in 2019, this is how the company presented itself to the world, as seen through the famous billboard on the 101 freeway in San Francisco:

Twilio - Ask Your Developer

The three words in this billboard are possibly one of the best marketing campaigns of all times (I’m not the only one who thinks so). With such a simple message, Twilio established itself as a company for and by developers. Even though I never lived in San Francisco, I visited for work and pleasure countless times, and have always considered the Twilio billboard a welcoming landmark as I drove from the airport to the city. When I eventually joined Twilio, it was a dream come true for me.

You can see in the picture above that there is some additional text in small print to the right of the Twilio logo. Through the years this billboard has been up, a few different messages appeared in that part of the sign. The two most used were:

  • Voice, SMS, and Video APIs
  • The Cloud Communications Platform

These complemented the three-word shout-out to developers, and helped cement Twilio’s position as the leader in developer-friendly communication APIs.

Early in 2023, the billboard was given a full redesign. This is how it looks today:

Twilio - Reduce Your Acquisition Costs

I’d risk that now most travelers on the 101 are confused by this sign and forget they saw it a second or two after passing it by. The message in the bottom right of the billboard, which now reads Customer Engagement Platform is also, in my opinion, too vague and less indicative of what the company stands for.

The changes made to the billboard are actually a reflection of the internal changes that are ongoing inside Twilio. Before, the company was laser-focused on helping developers become the heroes of their companies by equipping them with best-in-class APIs to solve their communication problems. Now, the goals have shifted and the vision is not as clear as it used to be, so much that the new billboard needs an explanatory blog post.

Sadly, us developers are not at the center of everything anymore at Twilio. The new Twilio wants to help companies collect, use and even make up customer data, all with the goal to drive more sales. For me it was easy to identify with a company that helps people communicate. My views on online privacy, however, make it difficult to find alignment anymore.

So this is it for me, then. Goodbye, Twilio. And thank you.

In spite of two rounds of mass layoffs and some attrition, many of my friends and colleagues are still employed and continue to be awesome as they adapt to new company goals. I have no idea what’s going to happen in the future, but my hope is that those who are staying are able to help Twilio find its way back to greatness.

What’s Next?

I’m sure you want to know what the future has in store for me. The short answer is I don’t know yet. My plan is to take my time to look for a new great company with a developer-first culture that wants to have me. Do you have any leads? Be sure to let me know!

In the meantime, I’ll have some extra time to dedicate to my open source projects. I’m also making some time to work on short or medium-term projects on a contract basis, so if you or your company have something you think I can help you with, I’ll be more than happy to chat with you. See my Consulting page for details.

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