Twilio founder and CEO Lawson steps down after pressure from activist investors
Twilio co-founder Jeffrey Lawson has stepped down from his positions as chairman and CEO of the cloud communications company amid ongoing clashes with activist investors. Khozema Shipchandler, a seasoned Twilio executive, will take over the roles, effective from Monday, and will also assume a board seat.
This development comes as Twilio faces pressure from two activist investors advocating for significant changes within the company. According to a report by CNBC, a regulatory filing revealed that Twilio anticipates surpassing its previous guidance for fourth-quarter revenue and income.
The embattled Twilio recently laid off about 5%, or 295, of its total workforce in a strategic move toward achieving profitable growth. The news comes just ten months after the Cloud communications platform laid off 17% of its staff and closed some offices.
In a blog post announcing the leadership change, Lawson wrote: “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.”
In addition to relinquishing his executive positions, Lawson will step down from Twilio’s board. Jeff Epstein, a current board member and partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, will take over as chairman.
The newly appointed CEO, Shipchandler, expressed his honor in taking on the role and hinted at a critical examination of “underperforming” business aspects, aligning with the demands of the activists.
However, despite these changes, it is uncertain whether the move will satisfy Anson Funds and Legion Partners, the activist investors, who continue to advocate for Twilio to either sell itself or fully divest its data and applications business.
Twilio has been collaborating with Qatalyst Partners to navigate these activist challenges, as reported by CNBC in December.
Sagar Gupta, portfolio manager at Anson Funds, commented on the leadership change, stating, “As we’ve previously discussed with Twilio’s Board of Directors, we believe Founder Jeff Lawson’s departure from the company would be a step in the right direction and are pleased with the leadership change announced today.” Gupta emphasized the need for further actions to maximize shareholder value and expressed a commitment to engaging with Twilio’s Board and management team moving forward.
Founded in 2008 by Jeff Lawson, Evan Cooke, and John Wolthuis, Jeff Lawson played a pivotal role until his recent departure, as discussed earlier. Twilio is an enterprise cloud communications platform that empowers developers to seamlessly incorporate messaging, voice, and various communication services into their applications.