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[E7] The Recipe for Success: Twilio’s Ron Huddleston on Building Out Ecosystems

2018-12-10T18:47:43+00:00 0 Comments

Ron Huddleston, Chief Partner Officer at Twilio, joins the AppChat Podcast to discuss the importance of building out ecosystems and the differences he has seen building multiple ecosystems for various companies.

Other subjects include breaking down various ecosystem models, how Huddleston’s previous experience prepared him for working at Twilio, and the importance of trust and credibility in the industry.

Here are the key topics, with timestamps, as well as the full interview transcript:

Key Topics

00:00-01:58 Introducing the AppChat and our guest, Twilio’s Chief Partner Officer Ron Huddleston

1:59-3:28 The challenges of indirect software sales

3:29-8:43 The importance of software companies building out an ISV and/or SI ecosystem

8:44-12:34 The differences in building out an ecosystem for Salesforce and Microsoft

12:35-17:10 The differences between a pure, cloud-based ecosystem, and a hybrid model including cloud and on-premise

17:11-20:02 How much Huddleston uses his previous experiences building ecosystems for Twilio, and how much he has to continue to discover and invent

20:03-25:54 The importance of trust and credibility when building out ecosystems

25:55-29:06 Building an app and sticking to the commitment you made to your ecosystem

29:07-30:22 Closing out and how to get in touch

Full Transcript

Intro: 00:01 You’re listening to the AppChat, a podcast focused on SaaS growth strategies, plus successes in the Salesforce ecosystem, and beyond. Here’s your host, CodeScience CEO, Brian Walsh.

Brian Walsh: 00:14 All right. We’re back on the AppChat Podcast. And today, I’m joined by Ron Huddleston, who, Ron, you have an incredible background when it comes to building out ISV ecosystems. Let me get this right. So you’re currently the Chief Partner Officer at Twilio.

Ron Huddleston: 00:31 Yeah.

Brian Walsh: 00:32 Before that, CVP, One Commercial Partner organization at Microsoft.

Ron Huddleston: 00:35 Yeah.

Brian Walsh: 00:36 SVP of the AppExchange at Salesforce.

Ron Huddleston: 00:38 Yep.

Brian Walsh: 00:39 And started the OEM, ISV program at Oracle, where you were vice president.

Ron Huddleston: 00:44 Yes.

Brian Walsh: 00:45 Are there any bigger partner programs in the world to run than that?

Ron Huddleston: 00:51 Amazon, maybe, now?

Brian Walsh: 00:53 Maybe now, yeah.

Ron Huddleston: 00:54 Yeah. Yeah, they’re breaking new ground. But the Microsoft thing was definitely a big one. They’ve all been really fun. I do think that the folks at companies that get to build ecosystems, ISV, or SI, or any type of partner ecosystem, I think that it’s probably the most fun job you can have at a bigger technology company, because you get exposed. It’s not the same thing over and over. You get to really understand how to work with other folks and understand what’s important to them. And so I stuck with it — it was probably my 20th job at Oracle — and when I found it and started building it, I just realized it was the most fun, like exciting, interesting, technically satisfying, from a business perspective, satisfying thing you could really do. So just from a personal perspective, I think it’s probably the most fun you can have in cloud technology for a job. Unless you’re like the CEO of a startup, or doing what you’re doing, like building things. But if you’re going to work for somebody else, I think it’s a great job.

Brian Walsh: 01:59 But I mean, I find that sometimes indirect sales, especially indirect software sales, can be extremely challenging. Like you’re not actually doing that final license sale. You’re lining up the partners and enabling them. I mean, is there something wrong in your head?

Ron Huddleston: 02:14 No, there’s not. It does carry its own set of complexities. But the strange thing is, whether it was on-premise or the cloud, those complexities repeat each other over, and over, and over again. So there really, after 20-odd years of doing this, there’s not much you haven’t seen, because where things get complicated is around human behavior, not necessarily around bringing really great solutions, and great partners, and technology together to solve problems. That’s kind of the easy part, just to like address customer problems. Where things get a little crunchy is how human start, where things can get complicated, is when you’re aligning different people, different organizations, different teams. That’s where things get a little more complicated. I think everything up to that is not as complicated. But again, it’s a pattern. And the patterns tend to repeat themselves. So you can sort of see around corners, the longer you do these kind of things, which makes it easier every time. This is, what, my third, fourth-

Brian Walsh: 03:18 Fourth one.

Ron Huddleston: 03:19 It kind of makes it a little easier every time you do it because you know, I probably made 10,000 mistakes. And you only make the same mistake three or four times.

Brian Walsh: 03:29 Eventually, you get it right. So why an ecosystem? I mean, there’s a huge amount of effort and investment. Why is it important for a software company to actually build out an ISV and/or SI ecosystem?

Ron Huddleston: 03:44 Yeah. There’s a lot of reasons. It depends on, are we talking about the technology company themselves that want to build an ecosystem?

Brian Walsh: 03:51 Yeah.

Ron Huddleston: 03:52 So you have to be a bigger company in order to do that, obviously. It’s really hard to do it, otherwise. You can certainly build a small, little portfolio of folks that you work with if you’re a smaller company. But there’s nothing better than a broad ecosystem because it does a couple things. First things first is, if there’s any way, shape, and form you’re trying to prove out the sort of platform nature of the technology that you’re trying to provide, the long road to get to that level of credibility is trying to do it yourself; trying to hire all the people in the world with the right expertise to sit down with a customer and explain to them, “No, bet on us. We’re future-proofed. And you can do all of these things with us. We’re a platform,” it is really hard. The easier way to do it is to work with an ecosystem of technology, or IP, ISVs, and SIs; and the ones that are trusted in the space, that are maybe already trusted by the customers that you want to serve, and work with them to have them understand how your platform can help. And then build what’s essentially, if those are the ingredients, then you know, the recipe book is how all those ingredients come together to help essentially cook a meal, like serve a beautiful meal for the customer, right? And so that’s why it’s a cool job. You get to be the chef, kind of. That’s a good analogy, I’m going to use that analogy — 20 years, I just discovered a new analogy. But you know, if you think about it that way, as ecosystems, as, you know, sure, you can call it one broad ecosystem, but really, it’s a bunch of small solution maps, or what I was just calling recipes. It’s a group of technologies, partners, companies, expertise, that solve particular problems. And no one company can really solve anything complicated on their own, really. Like it is just hard to do that over, and over, and over, and over again. You know, if you want to be broad-based, it makes it … If you want to be a broad solution, like a platform, it makes it really hard to also solve problems, complicated problems, by yourself, right? If you want to stay really narrow and be like a really verticalized application or SI-

Brian Walsh: 06:12 You can go super deep.

Ron Huddleston: 06:13 You can go super deep. You can solve things on your own. But if you want to be big and broad, it’s just the permutations of options are almost impossible. That’s why ecosystems are so important. They drive credibility, but they also are the only way to solve really hard, complicated problems if you’re trying to solve a lot of them. Those are the two reasons that it’s great for the partner, or the platform, but it’s great for all these companies that are sort of looking. It’s great for cutting-edge companies. Like in the cloud, it was a wonderful thing. People actually all start relational databases. Like there were a lot of companies that were building up relational database practices back in the day. And there were these little, small startups that were building relational databases, or were driving Java for, like J2EE or something.

Brian Walsh: 07:05 Yep.

Ron Huddleston: 07:05 And I know this is going to sound really old.

Brian Walsh: 07:07 We, you and I sound ancient right now. But keep going. It’s great. We’re reminiscing.

Ron Huddleston: 07:10 Yeah. But the point was these companies, these smaller companies that would never have — it was going to be a long time until they were big enough to where people really get exposed to them. Having an ecosystem, being part of a partner’s ecosystem, of a vendor, a big platform’s ecosystem, helped the companies that were the best, the most innovative, had the best technologies, sort of punch above their weight class, and could help change the market really quickly. So it’s this symbiotic relationship between these platform players that need partners for the two, you know, for lots of reasons, but the two reasons I highlighted; but it’s also great for partners, for ISVs and SIs, because it helps the best rise to the top. It helps the best innovate. And you know, it also, if you are the type of SIs or ISVs that are specialized in a particular place or industry, it helps you get access to customers where you might not get access before. So it’s a real symbiotic thing when it’s working really well, and nothing stands in the way, and there’s no friction. And it’s really just about sort of, you know, matchmaking. Like, you know, you’re a cook. All your ingredients are great. You cook the best stuff. Everything, your oven works. Your waiters are awesome. I guess waiters would be sales in this analogy, right?

Brian Walsh: 08:31 Yeah.

Ron Huddleston: 08:32 Yeah. The waiters understand stuff.

Brian Walsh: 08:35 Sales ops are your line chefs, right?

Ron Huddleston: 08:37 Right, there you go. I’ll work this analogy out at some point. I think it has legs. I’m thinking about it.

Brian Walsh: 08:44 There’s always an interesting thing, like if I compare where Microsoft has embraced their ecosystem, and I look at where Salesforce has, around capital efficiency, right? Because in the Salesforce world, there was almost no investment, outside of VC investment, almost no investment of, “Hey, let’s invest in you to bring this product to market.” Whereas we’ve seen, even on the Oracle and Microsoft side, lots of investment into ISVs to help them get started with an ecosystem.

Ron Huddleston: 09:09 Yeah. I think Salesforce would argue, particularly back in the day when they were building it up, when we were building it up, where we didn’t really have as much market presence. There are two things that companies can do to invest in you. They can certainly invest time or technology, but they can also — I’m sorry, they can certainly invest money or technology, but they can also invest time and access. And at Salesforce, the way I pulled the AppExchange together was, you know, there were limitations around technology, and dollars, and investment dollars, which eventually got solved in one way, or shape, or form. But there was really very little limitation to time and access that could be provided. And so the big strength that Salesforce had at the time was, they were leading in the cloud. So they had, they were innovators, had access and had a sales organization. So a lot of the beginnings of that ecosystem were built around people receiving essentially go-to-market support, help, and guidance from Salesforce, in return for their technical investment in building something with Salesforce. And that was the trade-off that they made. Microsoft is a different beast, and they grew up through partners, and they always had partners. But they’d gotten to such a point where they were so dominant in the marketplace that they’d essentially become demand fulfillment. The partner channel was super optimized for really educated customers to come in and want to buy something. And they would go to very specific partners that would then fulfill that. And it was very educated demand fulfillment to a very educated market, which is entirely different than what we were setting up the One Commercial Partner team to do, which was to create demand. So, instead of having 1,000 points of connection with super-specialized partners, have partners that could show up in front of customers and say, “What problem do you have? What question do you have for my answers?” And then they could represent the full cadre of everything that Microsoft could do. You know, it’s a huge technology portfolio. So they were just really limited historically because partners had to sort of pick their lane and stick with it. And so one of the things that’s a great thing we did there, was break that down and only create very few lanes. So partners were expected to really lead the way and create demand. But in order to do that, we also had to change the finances. We had to change economics. We had to create a lot of incentives for the direct sales organization to work with them, which is a big part of it, too, because selling stuff, versus taking orders, is expensive. And so we had to make sure the partners could make money doing it. And so in that particular case, you know, the trade-off was, being able to represent Microsoft across the board is a tough thing to do, but if they’d invest their time, and energy, and attention, in learning how to sell and create demand, we made the economics work so that they could get a payback, which is a little different. It’s almost the opposite of what Salesforce was doing. And so they’re just very different situations.

Brian Walsh: 12:29 Got it.

Ron Huddleston: 12:30 But like I said, you know, you do this long enough, you’ve seen almost everything.

Brian Walsh: 12:35 Well, let’s actually study one more difference within that, which is you had a pure, cloud-based model. And then within Microsoft, you actually had this hybrid. You had cloud, right, like this emerging cloud ecosystem with Office 365 and Dynamics. You also had this gigantic on-prem, you know, basis of licenses. Is there a huge difference between those two types of ecosystems? Or are they basically the same?

Ron Huddleston: 12:59 No. There really isn’t. I mean, the economic models are different. But enough folks, I would say 8 years ago, 10 years ago — God, 10 years ago, 15? I don’t know … Like 2008, 10 years ago, 2007, 2006, ’07, ’08, that’s when the financial model differences, forget the technical differences, the relationship differences, the functional selling —

Brian Walsh: 13:24 Customer success, all that stuff.

Ron Huddleston: 13:25 All that stuff, the actual financial models of how people expected to generate revenue and make a living, being a technology company or a consulting company, they were so different between cloud and on-prem that moving financial models was the primary thing holding people back from taking the step to the cloud. People liked the technology, but they couldn’t take the jump. Like a lot of companies failed because they tried to put a foot in both camps, and you just couldn’t. There’s one financial model, on-prem, it’s very short-term focused; one financial model, cloud, is very longterm focused. And if you’re trying to serve both masters, you’ll make bad, suboptimal decisions. And so I had a bunch of rules about the cloud. One of them was, you have to pick one or the other. You have to like, divest to one or the other. I think those days have changed, where even if people are doing a lot of on-prem stuff, like there’s even the Microsoft SIs, or resellers, they’ve worked it out in such a way, through financing, through managed services, through something that they’re emulating software as a service, financially. And so the technological flip is just a matter of time and opportunity. It wasn’t a matter of this big burden, I’m sorry, barrier, an obstacle which is changing their whole financial model, which is really hard. I mean, I literally had sought out, the same way you guys were product development outsourcers, I’d sought out financial development outsourcers, as well, that helped to finance companies through the gap, like the two or three-year revenue gap when they make the transition, because the financial model transition was a lot harder than the technical transition, back in the day. Now, I don’t think it’s as hard. At Microsoft, it’s, you know, some of the companies are so big, I think that the inertia is probably harder than the finances, you know? Just the daily grind, inertia of things makes things tough.

Brian Walsh: 15:17 And I think some of your work in there really paid off; the Lighter Capital helping with MapAnything.

Ron Huddleston: 15:22 Oh, yeah, I bet they made a crushing at that. Yeah.

Brian Walsh: 15:26 Yeah. And now, I think Series D, and they’re gigantic.

Ron Huddleston: 15:29 Is Lighter Capital doing pretty well? I haven’t talked to those guys in a while.

Brian Walsh: 15:32 I think they’re doing great.

Ron Huddleston: 15:34 It’s a great business model, I mean.

Brian Walsh: 15:35 It is.

Ron Huddleston: 15:35 Yeah.

Brian Walsh: 15:36 It’s interesting. They were so far ahead on that non-equity based funding for it. And now, I see I see a lot of players coming in.

Ron Huddleston: 15:44 Yeah. No, it’s a good way to do it. Here at Twilio, there’s so much. The funny thing is, it really feels a lot like the initial cloud, call it, revolution in 2007-08.

Brian Walsh: 15:57 Yep.

Ron Huddleston: 15:58 It’s just in communications. And there’s a lot of folks that are in the exact same spot; not that they’re in financial, a big financial difference, model-wise. But telecommunications is like a different financial model, in a weird way. It’s very like, usage oriented. It’s got spikes. It’s got a lot of weird things they’re not used to, particularly if people are selling cloud seat kind of stuff. It’s just a different sort of world for them. And a lot of folks don’t have specialization in a lot of these things. And so, you know, building things like PDOs and financial development outsourcers are things that we’re going to have to do here at Twilio as well, because there’s thousands and thousands of ISVs and SIs that, whether they know it or not, are going to be using Twilio in the next couple years, because it just fits. Everybody who’s moved to the cloud, there’s probably an opportunity — and touched a customer in some way, shape, or form — there’s an opportunity for them to work with Twilio. And you know, we’ve just got to make it easier. That was one of the things that, you were around at Salesforce when we did that, too. We just made it easier for people.

Brian Walsh: 17:04 Totally. Well, let’s jump into Twilio while we’re here. You’re assembling an amazing team.

Ron Huddleston: 17:10 Yeah. They’re good people.

Brian Walsh: 17:11 It seems like you’re applying all of your lessons from the past, you know, experiences building an ecosystem. How much do you have to continue to discover and invent? How much of this is just pulling out your playbook and running with it?

Ron Huddleston: 17:24 You know, a lot of it is playbook stuff. I will say, the difference between communications technology, like it carries a lot of legacy with it. Like there is, you know, a whole lot of underlying technology that, if you’re unfamiliar with it, which I am, you know, like the seven layers. That’s just, there’s a bunch of crazy stuff.

Brian Walsh: 17:45 Yep.

Ron Huddleston: 17:45 If you’re unfamiliar with it, there’s a lot going on there that has significant material impacts on business models that could work or couldn’t work. So you bring the same playbook, and then you have this set of realities, constraints, and the technology as it exists, that then make things viable or not viable. And it is, you know, it’s fundamentally a bit of a different thing, because it’s a very API-forward company, which leads people down a lot of weird roads. Like what is an SI? What is an ISV? Which, by the way, we can get philosophical on this.

Brian Walsh: 18:23 How do you differentiate?

Ron Huddleston: 18:26 Like at Salesforce, people would just like get their heads wrapped around an axle, because you know, back in the day, when we were creating the partner program, I always tried to explain reselling, and OEMing, and trying to get like, I think, Veeva kept it on their first contract to sell Salesforce underneath their technology set. People were like, you know, “The technology is staying here. These are ours, it’s in our — this isn’t the Salesforce,” what do they call those things? I’m sorry. Do you remember those, at Salesforce, they have a name for the PODs that-

Brian Walsh: 18:59 The ORGs?

Ron Huddleston: 19:01 Not the ORGs, but whatever. It’s Salesforce property. We’re running it in our own data centers.

Brian Walsh: 19:07 Right, in a POD.

Ron Huddleston: 19:07 So how are you reselling anything? I’m like, “Well, it’s, you know,” even, and then licensing, which is just a human, you know, construct. It’s not real. Like all these things, applying them to the cloud, it’s semi-nonsensical, but it is a way to put these constructs together, and rules together, that help enable ecosystems to exist and thrive. There’s something that they can sell, that they can put margin on, that they can build a business on. There’s something that they can learn about, and then configure, and then leave with the customer. If you don’t have the concepts of ownership, and passing ownership, and control, which don’t make a lot of sense when you think about like a multi-tenant cloud, but if you don’t have those things, you can’t build businesses. And so, you know, a lot of it is building the faith that these human constructs exist, and that you can sell them, which for API companies, is a new thing. Like, I don’t think AWS even does that yet.

Brian Walsh: 19:59 No. But-

Ron Huddleston: 20:00 It’s weird, I know that I’m like waxing philosophical, but it is a-

Brian Walsh: 20:03 But I mean, it all comes down to trust, right?

Ron Huddleston: 20:06 Yeah.

Brian Walsh: 20:07 You have to build trust with this partner that you will create these things, that you gave them your word, that they can actually invest millions of dollars to go forward with it.

Ron Huddleston: 20:16 Yeah. Trust and credibility, in this space, is kind of what it’s all about. And it’s a thing about companies, too, is you know, they can, over time, their perspective on the importance of ecosystems and what the value is can change. But if you’re leading up those ecosystem efforts, like you’ve got to try hard as hell to live up to the commitments, and consistencies, and visions that you put out there — to the point where you’re willing to sort of, you know, throw yourself in front of a train to make sure that like, you know, people don’t change the philosophies you put in place, because people are betting their lives, their businesses, on what you’re laying out as the vision and value of the partner program you’re putting out there. And you’re making these commitments, and anything that drives inconsistency, anything that’s not committed, anything that violates trust in those things is a huge, huge problem. Like you know, you can spend years building up the trust that’s required to build an ecosystem. And in one day, you can blow it. So that’s, by far, the most important thing that you need people to understand who are setting up partner programs, or building teams, or you know, maybe looking to hire someone to build up their organization. Make sure that she or he, you know, the first thing out of their mouth needs to be like trust and consistency because without that, none of the rest of this really matters.

Brian Walsh: 21:48 Yeah. And it’s also, I think, the confidence that these larger organizations are actually going to stay in it, right?

Ron Huddleston: 21:54 Yeah.

Brian Walsh: 21:55 You know? This is not going to be a one-year test, then we’re going away, because we’re asking the likes of major companies to actually invest their future in this opportunity.

Ron Huddleston: 22:04 Yeah. And you know, a lot of them don’t take the jump and wait a year, wait two years, to see. I mean, the cloud took forever. It took four or five years for the bigger companies to jump.

Brian Walsh: 22:15 Yep.

Ron Huddleston: 22:15 But now, things are happening a lot faster. But there’ll still be some companies that’ll wait a year or two to jump. But you’ll recall this, the ones that made it first in the cloud, the ones that were really successful were all the first ones, the people who moved fast. The consulting companies that moved fast, the ISVs that moved fast, the companies that jumped in there and took the risks were the ones that succeeded in the end. The ones that played on the sidelines, unless they were super dominant, they were playing catch-up, and still are.

Brian Walsh: 22:44 And you watch the outcomes and success of those. ServiceMax, I mean, that was coming about when Service Cloud wasn’t even fully baked, and almost a billion dollar exit. Veeva went public. DocuSign just went public.

Ron Huddleston: 22:56 Yeah. Those were all the early ones, yeah.

Brian Walsh: 22:58 Yep. They all came in. All right. So there is a PayPal Mafia: Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman.

Ron Huddleston: 23:06 I don’t know any of them very well.

Brian Walsh: 23:08 Yeah, I know, but that’s your social circle, I’m sure. You go surfing with them. I propose that there’s actually an AppExchange Mafia as well now. We have you out there, Avanish at ServiceNow, Leyla took back over of the AppExchange, Todd Surdey is now at FinancialForce, Sean Hogan at Nintex, Brian Snyder at GE. That original crew, those people who were there on those early, Wild West days, are out there in the SaaS ecosystems.

Ron Huddleston: 23:36 Yeah. Ross Eberhart’s over here. Mike Rosenbaum’s running product over there. Like, yeah, and a lot of trust amongst all those people. And we will, I’d love to work with any of those people. Avanish and I are always trying to figure out how we can do stuff. That’s just a great group of people that, I think a lot of them learned a ton through that phase. There’s even some folks that were from Oracle that are still in the Mafia, if you’re going to call it that. Like, because Molly Bellero Fischer is still doing it. Ross is still doing it. Anders is still doing it. Ryan Begin’s still doing it. Annie Heppberger, I think, runs partners now for Oracle.

Brian Walsh: 24:23 Brent Floyd.

Ron Huddleston: 24:24 Yeah. There’s a lot going on; Kevin Walsh is still doing it. He’s an Oracle person. Yeah. There are-

Brian Walsh: 24:30 Joanne Pantuso is still doing it.

Ron Huddleston: 24:32 That’s right. Once you get a taste of working in ecosystems and partners, you don’t really want to do other stuff, just because it’s so fulfilling to help companies do something new, and grow, and to be part of their story. It’s really fun. Like I said in the very beginning, in the opening when we were talking, if you could, you know, I had a lot of, I probably had 15 different jobs at Oracle. And this was by far the most fun. And I was a young man back then. And I had decided like, this is the thing I wanted to do. If I was going to work for somebody else, this is it, because there’s no beating it. Like there’s nothing, there’s really not beating it once you get it going. That’s why Twilio is so exciting, by the way. It’s like the new Wild West.

Brian Walsh: 25:13 Yep.

Ron Huddleston: 25:13 It just reminds me of like the cloud. And a lot of those people are the same people, the Mafia you just mentioned, there’s a lot of those same people that all recognize the same thing I do. Which means like, you’re not running around saying, “Oh, trust me. This happened before.” There’s a bunch of people here that have lived it and are like, “Oh, my God. This is so interesting. It’s exactly the same. And let’s-”

Brian Walsh: 25:34 We get to do it right the first time, this time.

Ron Huddleston: 25:35 Yeah, yeah. Here’s the thing — we did it right before. I think I’d argue the Microsoft One Commercial Partner is set up the right way. We’ll do it right here, it’s just things are happening much faster. Instead of taking three or four years, it’s happening in like 12 months.

Brian Walsh: 25:52 Wow.

Ron Huddleston: 25:53 It may be faster. It’s crazy.

Brian Walsh: 25:55 Well, and strategically, like technology-wise, adding in the whole serverless infrastructure, so you can host code now. You’ve got Flex, so you can start building out sort of UIs and the whole thing.

Ron Huddleston: 26:05 Yeah, it has a face. Yep, that’s a real thing. You’d be surprised how much having a face matters to LOB leaders, versus developers.

Brian Walsh: 26:12 And I bet it also adds to some of the defensibility of it, right? Like, there’s less attrition as you start adding even more and more layers, people can get deeper into your system, rather than just an API.

Ron Huddleston: 26:23 Yeah. The thing about Flex, the most interesting part about Flex is the underlying technology. I don’t want to give percentages, but I’d say a vast majority of the underlying technology has been around, you know, started 10 years ago, and it’s been enhanced ever since. The moment that Flex came out, where it was a way to put a face, a UI, on what was possible in Twilio, the interest was a thousandfold, because it opened up people’s minds to what Twilio was. Versus an API, which is a very difficult thing for non-developers to understand. You put a UI on it and explain what it is, you’ve just cracked open a huge market that should have been already there. It’s just, people didn’t understand what this, what Twilio could possibly do. And Flex wrapped that up nicely. Now the challenge is, when a platform, an API platform, which is a beautiful offering for SIs and ISVs, because it’s like the cookbook that you need to do anything, which is just perfect for a partnering system.

Brian Walsh: 27:21 And it’s so damn easy to use at Twilio.

Ron Huddleston: 27:23 Yeah. When you build an app, though, you, no matter what, unless you’re picking exactly the right space, are probably going to bounce up into some elbows of people that have already built on your platform. And so, same problem at Salesforce, same problem at Microsoft, when you start expanding what you do and putting, you know, faces on things, and making new applications, like you mentioned Service Cloud and ServiceMax, that is a, you’ve got to tread very slowly, and know what you’re doing, and make very considered decisions, because the chance that you are violating a commitment that you made to your ecosystem is probably very high. Now Twilio had never had a partner program, and really made a ton of commitments in that direction. But understanding the effects of things like this, and what’s important, and what’s not, is critical to our business going forward. And George and Jeff totally get it and understand. And so the idea of having governance, like a buy-build partner governance, and the impact that doing any of those actions, besides partner, if you buy or build, taking all that into consideration is one of the reasons why I feel really good about being here. Because they’re super dead serious about it. And what they’re focused on is, if they do buy or build, they’re doing it underneath, like on the platform layer. Like even Flex, sure, it’s a face. It’s a UI. But if you really look at it, it’s like an SDK for a UI. You know what I mean? It’s not really a — you could technically use it out of the box, but no one will.

Brian Walsh: 29:02 Right. It’s just the starting point. “Here, let me help you imagine this.”

Ron Huddleston: 29:06 Right, yeah.

Brian Walsh: 29:08 That’s fantastic. Well Ron, thank you very much for joining us. What’s the best way, if somebody either wants to find a great job in an ecosystem, or they’re looking to partner with Twilio, for them to get ahold of you and your team?

Ron Huddleston: 29:20 If people want to do either of those things, the best way to get partnering going is to go online, and go to “become a partner,” and go to the community. And then you’ll get routed to like the person that you’ll, you know, one of the 50-odd people that you’d be dealing with in to learn and become a partner. And there’s people that are there just to quickly follow up and make sure you know how to do it and what’s important. But if you’re interested in getting a job, you can email me at [email protected], because we’re hiring. We’re going to hire another, you know — lots. We’re in super hiring phase right now.

Brian Walsh: 29:59 Fantastic. Well, Ron, thank you very much for taking the time today, and glad we got this scheduled, and finally do it.

Ron Huddleston: 30:04 Yeah, no. I’m very, very impressed by your fancy equipment and the level of professionalism in putting this podcast together.

Brian Walsh: 30:11 Hey, look, I’ve grown up just as much as you have, okay?

Ron Huddleston: 30:15 Yes, clearly you have.

Brian Walsh: 30:18 All right, Ron. Thank you so much, everybody.

Ron Huddleston: 30:20 All right. I’ll see you around the water cooler. Bye.

Outro: 30:22 Thanks for listening to this episode of the AppChat. Don’t miss an episode. Visit, or subscribe on iTunes. Until next time, don’t make success an accident.

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