From White Bear Yard To Wall Street
This week I made the incredibly hard decision to move on to a new chapter, leaving Twilio after 5 amazing years.
Over those five years the changes have been astonishing. I went from sitting in Passion Capital’s co-working space in London’s White Bear Yard (thank you Passion team!) to standing on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange watching Twilio CEO, Jeff Lawson, ring the bell as the company went public. What a journey, and I feel hugely privileged to have worked with some incredible people along to way. It was those people that made Twilio such an amazing place to be.
Shout outs in particular to Danielle Morrill, Stevie Graham, Syd Lawrence, and Ben Nunney who were there in those pioneering early days, but there are dozens more – you know who you are. In fact back then it did become a bit of a running joke that perhaps Twilio was actually a clothing company, as it seemed everyone in London tech owned one of our famous tee shirts.
We earned the reputation of ‘being everywhere’, but that didn’t happen by chance, that was down to huge levels of commitment from a small team who were dedicated to serve the community. Over those first 18 months I racked up 97 events covering some 130,000 miles in the process. Who knows what the total would be if you added in Stevie, Syd, and Ben. These events ranged from the extremes of Mobile World Congress to grass roots meet ups in local Shoreditch pubs.
There are almost too many highlights from those early years to call out, but here are a few personal favourites.
My very first partnership deal was struck with the gone but not forgotten 3 Beards in the Clark & Well pub just up the street from White Bear Yard, and to better support the European startup community we ran a European only call for TwilioFund in 2012. Nearly 100 European startups applied, with OnePageCRM from Dublin winning investment at the end of the process.
Our first office move was completed by Barber and myself in one trip in the back of a black cab, and now Twilio has offices in London, Dublin, Munich, Berlin, Tallinn, Malmo and Madrid – just incredible growth. I actually rediscovered the video of us moving into Central Working Bonhill Street which has been hidden in my iCloud storage for 4 years:
We closed out 2012 with our now legendary takeover of the Namco FunScape games arcade in December.
We took a huge leap of faith in 2013 by attempting to run TwilioCon in London for the first time. Seriously challenging considering we had only been active in Europe for a year. Thanks to all that groundwork we had all put into the community we sold out Inmarsat – right on the famous Old Street roundabout. However, my favorite story from the event is not tickets sales, it was getting a phone call on the Sunday night, just a few hours until show time on the Monday from Stephen Romney CTO & co-founder of London delivery startup Shutl telling me he may have to pull out of his panel.
I was thrown into a mini panic scrambling to think who I could pull in to replace him at the 11th hour. He then called back about 11:30pm saying, no, he made a commitment and would be there. I heaved a huge selfish sigh of relief. It was only in the morning that I discovered that over the weekend Shutl had actually been acquired by eBay, and despite being caught up in dealing with that momentous moment for his company, Stephen still came through for Twilio. That to me was a perfect example of the goodwill and credibility Twilio was able to build in the London community during those early years.
All of these stories have something in common – they were all key foundational pieces in building Twilio’s brand and momentum in Europe. Over those 5 years it really has been like riding a rocket ship. From those humble beginnings in White Bear Yard to standing on the floor of the NYSE to watch Twilio become a public company.
But now it’s time to write the next chapter.
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