The first annual Twilio conference has been a blur so far but I’ll do my best to re-cap for my friends who couldn’t be here. Jeff Lawson started off by giving a re-cap about the growth of the telecom industry and the more recent stagnation of innovation. It was an industry waiting to be disrupted. There are now 50,000 developers using Twilio and it’s #7 and #13 on the programmable web API directory
So why is Twilio a great platform to build on?
- Twilio runs in the cloud so it’s easy for anyone to attain access to. Telecom software in the past required expensive and complicated investments in hardware.
- Using a cloud services allows you to scale up or down with very little pain.
- Code changes are pushed approximately every 6 hours so the infrastructure is always getting better
- Applications can be built quickly. For example, AirBNB took the Twilio voice client from idea to production in 48hrs.
- Twilio uses existing devices and is essentially a meta-layer on top. It lets you do interesting things and solve business problems in interesting ways. With Twilio your device essentially becomes the application, you don’t need to think of it as just a regular phone.
Demos of newly announced Twilio functionality
Steve Martocci from Group.me came on stage and had a pretty casual and inspiring chat with Jeff about going from idea to TechCrunch buzz in less than 48hrs at the NYC Hackathon. The main points I took away were that there are a lot more people who know how to start things than market things. People that can build things need to partner with people who can execute and market those things. He left us with this tip on how to build a product: “Keep experimenting, find something that works, build a great team around it.”
Next up Steven Yan gave an overview of how Zendesk has implemented the voice client into their help desk software. Zendesk has added functionality to allows call centre workers to make recordings of inbound calls and assign the voice clips into tickets against the user. This obviously enhances service but also provides transparency
iOS SDK Announcement
Jeff announced the beta voice SDK for iOS. To demonstrate this, Kyle Roche from ringDNA showed how they use the voice client in a 3G-based iPad app. Andrew Wilcsak from AirBNB showed how they use the voice client in their new iPhone app to easily allow users to connect over voice without having to give out personal information such as phone numbers. Jeff and Andrew had a comical exchange on how a potential airBNB renter would gain the trust of a property renter over voice.
Twilio Connect Announcement
Twilio Connect has been released which makes it way easier for application builders to separate the code and application from the billing and pricing. Twilio app can now run under anyones Twilio account. Connect uses an “Oauth-style” authentication similar to Twitter to let users sign up their own Twilio account to pay for a Twilio application they use. This septation of customer accounts from developer/service accounts makes it a much smoother billing process for everyone involved.
The keynote portion of the morning ended off with Ron Conway coming up and giving a really inspiration talk on the huge potential in the mobile marketplace right now. This was by far my favourite keynote of the morning. “The industry has never been as disruptive and active as it is now.” We’re in a time where software is replacing off-line industries. Email was one of the first technologies to do this by replacing physical letters. But it also extends to cases such as Kayak replacing travel agents and even Hipmunk replacing Expedia. His statement that “No application out there that can’t be solved with software” was particularly interesting. This made me wonder what will happen to industries such as shipping and transportation. Mr Conway ended by talking about “Collaborative Consumption.” This is the notion that consumers, not businesses are are the ones creating new marketplaces and they are doing it via collaboration. A good example of this is AirBNB.
All in all it was a very inspiring morning. Can’t wait for the rest of the afternoon sessions and the hackathon tonight.