CEO of chat tech plumber Twilio is leaving the building

'Tech visionary and pioneer' replaced by former comms president, as company faces pressure from activist investors

Jeff Lawson has stepped down as CEO of Twilio with Khozema Shipchandler filling that less-than-comfy executive chair with immediate effect.

The move comes after pressure from activist investors, Anson Funds and Legion Partners, who are seeking changes within the messaging tech company. According to CNBC, these changes included selling the entire company or divesting a business unit.

Twilio has already undertaken several reorganizations. In February 2023 it announced plans to cut 17 percent of its staffers. It also formed two business units: Twilio Data & Applications and Twilio Communications.

At the time, Lawson said: "These changes hurt."

Departing the company he co-founded almost 15 years ago must also sting a bit.

Lawson had time to pen a blog post prior to his departure, in which he paid tribute to the incoming CEO and boasted of Twilio's achievements. He said: "The time has come for me to pass the reins of this extraordinary company to a new CEO to lead Twilio through its next chapter. Khozema Shipchandler will succeed me as CEO, starting today."

Twilio's revenue growth slowed markedly in 2023, and the company's stock price has fallen rapidly from over $400 in 2021 to recent lows around the $50 mark. At the time of writing, the stock stands at $73.64, up from $69.16 last week. The markets, therefore, are somewhat pleased at Lawson's departure.

Shipchandler joined Twilio as chief financial officer in 2018 after more than two decades at GEO. He moved to the role of chief operating officer and communications president before his appointment to the board and the role of CEO this month. Jeff Epstein, an operating partner at Bessemer Venture Partners and a Twilio board member for over six years, was chair of the Twilio board.

Other tech firms will be noting the fate of Lawson with interest. Following the company's IPO, Lawson was left with "supervoting" shares. However, in 2023, that status expired. Lawson's voting stake was reduced, opening the company to pressure from investors.

Shipchandler praised the outgoing CEO and said the mark left on Twilio by Lawson's tenure was "indelible."

"Jeff led Twilio through its incredible evolution from a disruptive startup to an admired public company. He brought his passion as a founder to countless product innovations and shaped our culture. Jeff also pushed the tech industry forward in many ways – democratizing business communications and making a hero of developers."

As well as the CEO change, Twilio also announced that it expected fourth-quarter 2023 revenue to be above the top-end of guidance originally provided on November 8, 2023, which was $1.04 billion. ®

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