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Twilio Launches Partner Program for its Communications Platform

Looking to kick start a next stage of growth after 10 years, communications specialist Twilio is making a major investment in the channel.

The San Francisco area company aims to virtualize telecommunications infrastructure by offering APIs that allow developers to create communications solutions that leverage voice, text, chat and video. In its first decade, the company was all about developers, and boasts that 2 million of them have used the Twilio platform.

In February, Twilio hired Ron Huddleston as chief partners officer to lead a channel effort, and on Wednesday Huddleston introduced Twilio Build, the company's new channel program.

"It's our first partner program built from the ground up for a developer-first, API-first world. What we're announcing are all of the foundational things that any kind of partner, consulting or technology, needs to build a healthy businesses using Twilio," said Huddleston, a veteran of senior channel roles at Microsoft, Salesforce and Oracle.

Those foundational elements include a two-tiered program of Registered and Gold partners, support for new business models, a certification program, a marketplace and a technology early access program with exclusive product roadmap information.

The business models may be the biggest change for Twilio. The company has traditionally worked closely with ISVs, who built intellectual property on top of Twilio's platform for end customers. Twilio will continue to work with ISVs, which it now calls technology partners, and Build makes moves to address the distinct requirements of ISVs, as opposed to end customers with their own development teams.

But Twilio is also adding resources, go-to-market materials, training, a platform and personnel to support other business models. One is resell, a model which didn't exist previously for Twilio, and another is an influence business model.

With the launch of the Twilio Build Marketplace, the company is providing a digital showcase of Twilio-based applications and add-ons that mark the start of a co-sell approach for Twilio with partners. The marketplace also includes a directory of consulting partners, and those consulting partners can achieve certifications and the Gold level through digital training, in-person training and other requirements.

Huddleston declined to share the timeframe and percent-of-revenues goals as Twilio moves from an all-direct to a mixed direct-indirect model. He did say that the company has about 100 partners certified already and is aiming to double or triple that number by the Twilio SIGNAL event in San Francisco this October.

The company is initially aiming to develop a roster of systems integrators in the communications, healthcare and financial services sector, and later will emphasize other areas. Eventually, Huddleston sees a new go-to-market approach for Twilio.

"I really do expect every Twilio customer to work with a partner at some point in the future," he said. Huddleston, a veteran of the fast shift to the cloud from his days at Salesforce, sees a lot of work coming for Twilio partners. "It really is an exciting space for partners to begin looking at because I see communications moving three or four times faster [than the move to the cloud]."

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 27, 2018