Tech industry braces itself for Twilio’s big day – IPO hopes to raise $150m

23 Jun 2016

All eyes are on Twilio, the communications platform beloved of developers, which is hoping to raise $150m in an IPO in New York today

Unlike 16 years ago, IPOs are not an everyday occurrence in the tech sector, but when they happen they are an essential barometer for sentiment. That’s why the tech industry in Silicon Valley and around the world will be eagerly watching Twilio’s debut on the New York Stock Exchange today (23 June).

While we live in the time of unicorns – start-ups valued at more than $1bn – questions are constantly arising as to why Uber, for example, should be worth a whopping $62bn.

The IPO is the proving ground for such questioning and Twilio – a key platform that enables developers to incorporate phone calls and text messages into their apps – is worth a more modest $1.1bn, according to CBInsights’ list of unicorns and their respective valuations.

Twilio’s platform is so vital to the elite developer class that 17pc of its revenues are understood to come from WhatsApp alone, which is both an affirmation and a risk.

Either way, it is considered one of San Francisco’s finest and, today, some 10m shares of Class A common stock will go on sale in New York priced at $15 a share under the symbol TWLO.

The IPO is hoped to raise at least $150m for the company, which employs 500 people around the world, including in Dublin.

What is Twilio?

Twilio is a cloud communications company that fits under the platform as a service (PaaS) genre of software and it allows developers to programme in the ability to send and receive text messages and phone calls.

As of last year, some 560,000 developers around the world use the service.

Originally based in Seattle, the company was started in 2007 by Jeff Lawson, Evan Cooke and Jon Wolthuis.

The company steadily worked its way up the Silicon Valley food chain, raising capital from luminaries such as Dave McClure and Chris Saccca, as well as Bessemer Venture Partners and Union Square Ventures. The company also cut its teeth competing at various TechCrunch Disrupt hackathons.

As unicorns go, Twilio has at least earned its spurs and its 560,000 developer community worldwide is proof of that.

Now, let’s see what Wall Street thinks.

Wall Street image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years