While everyone was on the holiday break at the end of last year, Twilio wrote a blog post that very few people noticed. They announced that our firm, Union Square Ventures, had become an investor in Twilio.
Twilio is not a services for the masses. Yet.
It's a service that web developers can use to build telephony apps or build telephony into their app. This image on Twilio's home page says it all.
In the "Areas of Interest" post that I wrote at the start of the year, I wrote:
Developers are the new power users. If you cater to them, you can build a large user base with significant network effects.
We believe that one way to build a large network of web users is to build something that makes developers' lives easier. And Twilio does exactly that. It masks all the complexity of telephony into a finite number of API calls that web developers can use to build apps quickly and easily.
When we first met Twilio, the founder Jeff Lawson blew me away when he told me that the entire service was built on five API calls; <say>, <play>, <gather>, <record>, and <dial>. Clearly they've added a few more, like <conference> highlighted above.
Today, Twilio is announcing they've added SMS to the service, with <sms>. Now you can easily allow users to access your web app via SMS without having to set up shortcodes, dealing with aggregators, doing the configurations, etc. TechCrunch has the details.
My partner Albert led this investment for us. He's a web developer himself and has already saved himself countless hours with Twilio. Albert wrote a post about Twilio on the USV blog today. If you are a developer of web apps and are interested in adding telephony, you should check out Twilio.