Twilio’s Road to IPO

Image via MarketWatch

Image via MarketWatch

Breaking the Tech IPO Drought

None of Silicon Valley’s famed “unicorns” went public for the first six months of 2016. VC funds seemingly dried up, which fueled concerns in North American tech hubs. It seemed no one would dare to brave the unpredictable market.

Enter Twilio, a fast-growing cloud communications platform with a developer-centric business model and an impressive list of innovative customers such as Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Box and Coca Cola. The company turned heads with its S-1 filing and the tech community began buzzing about the year’s first IPO.

However, to achieve a successful NYSE listing and continue its aggressive growth trajectory, the company needed to shift from its developer-focused narrative to tell a larger story that resonated with business audiences and potential investors.


Setting the Stage

Highwire positioned Twilio as a company with strong leadership, a sound business model and industry-leading technology. We had set this strategy in motion from the beginning of our partnership (three  years running at the time of filing) by examining issues, trends and determining the positioning that would explain Twilio’s technology and business model to a broader audience. We had also developed a concrete base of media relationships before quiet period restrictions impacted communications.Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 12.58.34 PM

In addition, Highwire used measurement platforms to monitor relevant conversations, focus on the top-tier business media landscape, create more opportunities for executive profiles and uncover the key trends and potential narratives resonating within the industry.

In the post-S-1-filing quiet period, we turned our focus to Twilio’s customers, using their stories to highlight the company’s key offerings, capabilities and core technology.


The Big Payoff

Twilio Forbes Cover October 2016

Image via Forbes

As part of the IPO listing day communications strategy, Twilio conducted a live coding demo on the NYSE floor featuring its developers and customers to educate business audiences and the media.

Following the IPO, Highwire continued generating top business coverage by focusing on CEO profiles, including lessons from going public and the company’s continued momentum. Media coverage credited Twilio as an oasis in the tech IPO drought of 2016 and positioned the company as driving the next generation of innovative companies such as Uber and Airbnb.

Media Wins:
  • Forbes cover story
  • Fortune’s 40 Under 40 profile
  • Jeff Lawson awarded TechCrunch Crunchies’ Founder of the Year
  • #8 on Fast Company’s most innovative companies list (#1 in the enterprise tech sector)
  • 310% increase in YOY overall media coverage
  • 552% increase in YOY business press coverage
Twilio's Jeff Lawson on-stage at the 2017 TechCrunch Crunchies accepting the award for Founder of the Year

Twilio’s Jeff Lawson won the TechCrunch Crunchie for Founder of the Year 2017, image via TechCrunch

Business Success:

  • Stock price rose from $15 per share to as high as $70+ per share
  • Captured 84% of industry share of voice; closest competitor was 7%

Telling the story of Twilio’s IPO didn’t happen overnight. Instead, it was the product of our strong partnership built over years. It proved what a PR program based on solid storytelling and thought leadership can do for one of the biggest moments in a company’s history and most importantly beyond.

IBM InterConnect: Connecting the Dots Between IBM and the Cloud

InterConnect, IBM’s annual cloud and cognitive conference, may have ended at the end of March, but we’re still feeling the effects of the cloud hype.

IBM InterConnect 2017 Stage

Photo via IBM

This year’s conference, a four-day long celebration of everything cloud, drew more than 20,000 attendees to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, where IBM showcased its latest innovations and made it clear that it’s committed to an enterprise-strong cloud centered around cognitive technologies. Sessions by influential speakers such as Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, H&R Block CEO Bill Cobb, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and even Will Smith were a major highlight of the conference.

With notable partnership and software announcements, the focus of InterConnect was learning how to “become cognitive”, encouraging organizations to weave human-intellect-inspired cognitive computing into their applications and business processes. Highwire worked with the IBM team to develop an announcement strategy that would resonate with media and other key audiences and positions IBM as the leader in cloud technology.

Delivering on the Hype

The conference kicked off with the unveiling of IBM’s “Blockchain as a Service,” allowing customers to build secure blockchain networks. Continuing the momentum, IBM announced two Watson partnerships with PlayFab and Galvanize.




Another highlight of the conference came from CEO Ginni Rometty’s keynote address, which focused on how cloud and cognitive can come together to change the way we work. After the keynote came two more partnership announcements with Wanda Internet Technology and AT&T.



Throughout the conference, a major focus area for our team was organizing roundtables with IBM cloud executives to allow media and analysts to discuss the implications of these announcements. These roundtables covered topics such as cloud video, hybrid cloud adoption and the future of developers and offered reporters the opportunity to participate in smaller, interactive sessions.

The announcement cadence, sessions and other events proved to be successful. The conference garnered 291 articles in the U.S., further cementing IBM as a leader in cloud technology with a commitment to innovation in the enterprise.