With so many communications platforms available these days — from Slack, to WhatsApp, to Discord, to Zoom — you would think that it would always be easy for companies to stay in touch with their employees and their customers. You would be wrong, though, and Twilio can help.

The San Francisco-based cloud services company, which put itself on the map in 2008 through a prank known as “RickRolling,” helps companies and brands reach you wherever you are, on whatever platform you might be using. 

Ride-sharing company Lyft and Match.com rely on it to help users communicate without revealing private information. Other companies use it to connect staff directly with customers through virtual help desks. And Coca-Cola uses it to send automated alerts to technicians when vending machines are broken.

Founded by Jeff Lawson, Evan Cooke, and John Wolthuis, Twilio went public in June 2016 at $23.99 per share. The pandemic, along with working from home, and a surge in demand for services that allowed people to connect virtually drove the stock into the clouds. By September 2021, it was trading at a whopping $340 a share, making it one of the biggest recent SaaS success stories.

So alluring was the upward trajectory that it apparently enticed a group of Twilio engineers to engage in insider trading, and profit off of the surge. 

According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, three Twilio software engineers and some of their friends and family made more than $1 million in illegal gains by buying shares based on inside sales information before the company announced glowing first-quarter results in May 2020. One of the engineers was also charged criminally by the U.S. Justice Department over the alleged scheme. (Both the civil and criminal cases are still pending.) 

But return-to-work has soured Wall Street somewhat on the once high-flying stock. It now trades at around $130 per share. Undeterred, apparently, Twilio is still positioning itself for growth. Here is more about its rise and where it looks like it’s headed, based on information collected by our parent company, Thinknum Alternative Data.

Job growth at Twilio

Both job listings and the company’s stock price rose dramatically during the pandemic, as Twilio’s fortunes rose. On Jan. 9, 2020, there were 211 jobs posted for Twilio. By Aug. 22, 2021, the number had more than quadrupled to 927. More recently, the number of job listings and the stock price have been moving in opposite directions however.

Where jobs are being added 

Within the past month, Twilio has still been near its peak for job listings, and it is still adding to its headcount around the world. Of the more than 900 jobs it has publicly listed over the past 30 days, most are in the U.S., although there is also significant hiring going on in India, the U.K., Singapore, Japan, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Estonia, Brazil and Colombia. 

A map showing where Twilio is adding the most jobs

Social media popularity and web traffic

It’s pretty easy to tell when the internet started to become broadly aware of Twilio based on its web traffic numbers. This chart, showing data collected by Thinknum, conveys the almost seismic-like increase in clicks during the pandemic. But more recently, that activity has started to wane.

Twilio’s growth in Twitter followers has also flattened somewhat in recent months after a more pronounced increase over the past couple of years.

Comparison with other SaaS companies

Other major software-as-a-service companies do not necessarily appear quite so optimistic as Twilio. According to our data, both Shopify and Zendesk show slower growth in hiring than Twilio, although all are still trending upward.

Overall, this is an impressive rise for a startup that gained its footing by sending people surprise video clips of Rick Astley singing his 1980s single “Never Gonna Give You Up.”  Maybe no one should give up on Twilio either. 

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

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