Sep
11
2018
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Twilio’s contact center products just got more analytical with Ytica acquisition

Twilio, a company best known for supplying a communications APIs for developers has a product called Twilio Flex for building sophisticated customer service applications on top of Twilio’s APIs. Today, it announced it was acquiring Ytica (pronounced Why-tica) to provide an operational and analytical layer on top of the customer service solution.

The companies would not discuss the purchase price, but Twilio indicated it does not expect the acquisition to have a material impact on its “results, operations or financial condition.” In other words, it probably didn’t cost much.

Ytica, which is based in Prague, has actually been a partner with Twilio for some time, so coming together in this fashion really made a lot of sense, especially as Twilio has been developing Flex.

Twilio Flex is an app platform for contact centers, which offers a full stack of applications and allows users to deliver customer support over multiple channels, Al Cook, general manager of Twilio Flex explained. “Flex deploys like SaaS, but because it’s built on top of APIs, you can reach in and change how Flex works,” he said. That is very appealing, especially for larger operations looking for a flexible, cloud-based solution without the baggage of on-prem legacy products.

What the product was lacking, however, was a native way to manage customer service representatives from within the application, and understand through analytics and dashboards, how well or poorly the team was doing. Having that ability to measure the effectiveness of the team becomes even more critical the larger the group becomes, and Cook indicated some Flex users are managing enormous groups with 10,000-20,000 employees.

Ytica provides a way to measure the performance of customer service staff, allowing management to monitor and intervene and coach when necessary. “It made so much sense to join together as one team. They have huge experience in the contact center, and a similar philosophy to build something customizable and programmable in the cloud,” Cook said.

While Ytica works with other vendors beyond Twilio, CEO Simon Vostrý says that they will continue to support those customers, even as they join the Twilio family. “We can run Flex and can continue to run this separately. We have customers running on other SaaS platforms, and we will continue to support them,” he said.

The company will remain in Prague and become a Twilio satellite office. All 14 employees are expected to join the Twilio team and Cook says plans are already in the works to expand the Prague team.

Aug
06
2018
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Twilio came ahead of expectations and the stock is going nuts

Twilio today reported a positive quarter that brought it to profitability — on an adjusted basis — ahead of schedule for Wall Street, sending the stock soaring 16 percent in extended hours after the release came out.

While according to traditional accounting principles Twilio still lost money (this usually includes stock-based compensation, a key component of compensation packages), the company is still showing that it has the capability of being profitable. Born as a go-to tool for startups and larger companies to handle their text- and telephone-related operations, Twilio was among a wave of IPOs in 2016 that has more or less continued into this year. The company’s stock has more than doubled in the past year, and is up nearly 170 percent this year alone. Twilio also brought in revenue ahead of Wall Street expectations.

Still, as a services business, Twilio has to show that it can continue to scale its business while absorbing the cost of the infrastructure required and acquire new customers. It also has to ensure that those customers aren’t leaving, or at least that it’s bringing on enough new developers more quickly than they are leaving. Larger enterprises, as a result, can be more attractive because they’re more predictable and can lead to bigger buckets of revenue for the company — and, well, most larger companies still need communications support in some way still today.

On an adjusted basis, Twilio said it earned 3 cents per share, ahead of the loss of 5 cents that analysts were expecting. It said it brought in $147.8 million in revenue compared to $131.1 million analysts were expecting, so it’s a beat on both lines, and more importantly shows that Twilio may be able to morph its toolkit into a mainline business that can end up as the backbone of any company’s communication with their customers or users.

Mar
12
2018
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Twilio launches Flex, a fully programmable contact center

 Earlier this year we reported that Twilio was going to launch a full contact center solution called Flex on March 12 — lo and behold, today is March 12 and Twilio today announced the launch of Flex at the Enterprise Connect conference in Orlando. Flex brings together virtually every part of the existing Twilio infrastructure and platform for developers that already power nearly 40… Read More

Mar
12
2018
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Twilio launches Flex, a fully programmable contact center

Earlier this year we reported that Twilio was going to launch a full contact center solution called Flex on March 12 — lo and behold, today is March 12 and Twilio today announced the launch of Flex at the Enterprise Connect conference in Orlando. Flex brings together virtually every part of the existing Twilio infrastructure and platform for developers that already power nearly 40 billion interactions a year and bundles it with a rather slick user interface for companies that want to set up an out-of-the-box contact center or update their existing deployments.

Twilio’s expertise has long been in providing backend communications services and its design expertise is mostly in building APIs, not user interfaces. With this move, though, the company is giving enterprises (and this product is meant for the kind of companies that have hundreds or thousands of people in a contact center) a full stack contact center with a full graphical user interface.

As the company’s head of its contact center business Al Cook told me, though, the main design philosophy behind Flex is to give users maximum flexibility. He argues that business today have to choose between going with products that they can’t customize themselves, so that they have to rely on expensive outside vendors that will do the customization for them (which also tends to take a lot of time), or a SaaS contact center that can be quickly deployed but is hard to scale and lacks customization options. “Think of Flex as an application platform,” Cook told me. It takes its cues from Twilio’s experience in working with developers and gives enterprises an easy API interface for customizing the service to their liking, but also provides all of the necessary tools out of the box.

“The reason why APIs were very transformative to the industry is because you are unconstrained in what you can do,” Cook explained. “Once you put a user interface on that, you constrain users.” So for Flex, the team had to ask itself some new questions. “How do you build user interfaces in a fundamentally different way that gives people the best features they want without constraining them?”

Out of the box, Flex supports all of the standard messaging channels that contact centers are now expected to support. These include Voice, video, text, picture messaging, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, LINE and WeChat. The service also supports screen sharing and co-browsing. Twilio is also integrating its own intelligent TaskRouter service into Flex to automatically route questions to the right agent. A single Flex deployment can support up to 50,000 agents.

Cook argues that getting started with Flex is a one-click affair, though once it’s up and running, most users will surely need to customize the service a bit for their own needs and embed chat widgets and other functions on their websites and into their apps (think click-to-call, for example). Some of the more in-depth customization can be done in Twilio Studio, the company’s drag and drop application builder, too.

Most large enterprises already have contact centers, though, so it’s maybe no surprise that some of the thinking behind making Flex as… well… flexible as possible is about giving those users the ability to mix and match features from Flex with their existing tools to allow for a slow and steady migration.

As we reported last month, Flex will also integrate with all the standard CRM tools like Salesforce and Zendesk, as well as workforce management and optimization tools that are currently in use in most contact centers.

Before launching the product today, Twilio already worked with ING, Zillow, National Debt Relief and RealPage to test Flex. In addition, it lined up a number of tech and consulting partners to support new users.

May
02
2017
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Twilio stock plummets as major client Uber distances itself

 A good report on revenue wasn’t enough to keep Twilio stock from taking a dive in after-hours trading. What at first glance appeared to be a positive story very quickly divulged into a financial nightmare. Shares in the cloud communications company have fallen 27 percent in after-hours trading. Read More

Aug
08
2016
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Twilio beats expectations with revenue of $64.5M in solid Q2 earnings

Twilio logo Twilio, exceeded revenue expectations in Q2 earnings released today after the bell. Immediately share prices increased in after-hours trading before falling back to the market closing price. The cloud-communications company reported revenue of $64.5 million and a loss per share of $0.08. Twilio beat revenue by over 10 percent. Analysts had expected a loss of $0.14 per share on revenue… Read More

Jun
22
2016
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Twilio prices its IPO at $15 per share, above its previous target

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08:  Co-Founder & CEO at Twilio Inc. Jeff Lawson during TechCrunch Disrupt London 2015 - Day 2 at Copper Box Arena on December 8, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for TechCrunch) *** Local Caption *** Jeff Lawson Twilio today said it would price its initial public offering at $15 per share, which would value the company at around $1.23 billion. That would value Twilio above its previous $1 billion valuation from its last financing round. With the pricing, the company expects to raise around $150 million, with an option for another 1.5 million shares to be purchased. It’s also a higher price than… Read More

May
10
2016
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Customer support via SMS is about to get a lot easier, courtesy of Zendesk

cycling-and-texting Customer support powerhouse Zendesk is broadening its ever-expanding number of support channels today, as the company announced a brand new native channel for customer service over the text messages. SMS may be 20-year-old technology, but there’s a lot to be said for short bursts of asynchronous exchange of information. Read More

Mar
14
2016
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The suddenly exciting future of enterprise communications

cansstring Enterprise communications is not a sector that typically generates palpable excitement. In the enterprise, the plumbing is never as exciting as the fixtures, and people spend more time noticing what communications enables than how it’s delivered. It doesn’t help that enterprise communications is often dismissed as slow to innovate, given its high capital costs to deploy new… Read More

Jan
29
2016
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Our 2016 Predictions For The IPO Market

New York Stock Exchange 2015 was not a good year for IPOs — it was actually the worst year for tech IPOs since the financial crisis in 2009. More and more startups are opting to remain private for longer periods of time. And while we still haven’t seen any IPOs in 2016, the slowest start since 2009, eventually venture-backed companies need to go public — if only to raise additional financing to… Read More

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