Twilio brings its annual TwilioCon event to Europe for the first time

Oct 23, 2013
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Earlier this week in London, Twilio hosted the first ever TwilioCon Europe, an annual event centered around the Twilio ecosystem. The event showcased Twilio’s immense growth in every aspect of its communication API’s activity, including total phone call minutes spent on Twilio in the last 12 months (1.5 Billion, up from 500M in 2012), with most figures following this steep growth trend.

In addition, Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson took the stage to highlight some of the more Euro-centric announcements, such as the introduction of both Mobile phone numbers in the UK (as well as 6 other European countries), and the introduction of “Short Codes” (smaller phone numbers) to UK users (currently in public beta) – in the US, one Twilio team member said that Twilio operates the distribution of more than 70% of all short codes.

The day however, was not all about Twilio, and this is what made the event especially unique. While some of the speakers are users of the Twilio API, those who did did not simply focus on their implementation of Twilio, but rather, the idea as a whole. One such example was Hello Lamp Post, a Bristol city project which allowed individuals to communicate with lamp posts, post boxes, cranes, and even iconic over-sized statues of the loveable dog Gromit from Wallace & Gromit. Users could ask questions, tell stories, and even hear what other users had said to the object previously.

Overall, the event, for me, served as a way to inspire people about how to implement communications into their existing products, as well as how to rethink entire industries that lack proper communications today. Twilio looked specifically at Call Centers during the day, pointing out how they plan to save Call Center clients over $7 Million this year by replacing archaic TelCo. infrastructure with a purely web interface that scales up as the call center team does.

But enough about Twilio…

1378870_10151725831107759_1660541016_nThe event also featured a panel full of Accelerators, which, while it lacked any insightful revelations, did feature two absurdities that cannot go unmentioned :

  1. TheFamily co-founder Oussama Ammar referring to the Paris Tech Ecosystem as “toxic,” a clear ploy at keeping out outside investors
  2. A question from the audience, paraphrased as “is it true that if you don’t get accepted into an incubator, your will never succeed?”

Apart from that, I quite enjoyed giving the closing fireside chat with Bessemer Venture Partners’ Ethan Kurzweil, as we talked about how a startup doesn’t need to be in the Silicon Valley to get funded, and how it is not as rose-colored as one might think. Overall, the event highlighted Twilio’s commitment to the European tech ecosystem, underscored by the new hires in Germany & London that were seen throughout the day, the announcement of new features rolling out in Europe, and, from what I heard, the plans Twilio has in store for Europe in 2014.

What I enjoyed most about the event is that it felt like an early edition of an event that will one day be on the level of WWDC or Google I/O – thought CEO Jeff Lawson says Twilio will not likely be jumping in the Apple/Samsung fight anytime soon, and is happy being on the Software side. Many attendees remarked the enthusiasm with which Lawson spoke about the ecosystem he has created, including their 500 Partners-backed venture arm Twilio Fund & their non-profit offer Twilio.org, both of which are intended to give back to the ecosystem they are currently supporting.

It can be quite difficult to talk about one’s business activity without sounding like you’re trying to sell something to the audience, but Twilio has built such a unique ecosystem around simplifying and rendering “DO-er friendly” the communications layer that you can’t blame Lawson for being excited about enabling people to do communications smarter.

I will certainly be keeping TwilioCon on my list for next year, and will be looking for a way to allow readers to text us their comments, or include WebRTC chat right in the Rude Baguette – any other ideas?

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Photos courtesy of Twiliocon Photographer Paul Clarke. All photos available on Twilio’s Facebook Page.