Yesterday was a dark day for the programmable communications industry. Jeff Lawson was removed as CEO and not even given the role as chairman. How could the current Twilio board let this happen? This act is both shocking and shameful. The board are the ones that need to be fired.
The company he founded, that achieved a peak market capitalization of $80B, that was currently exceeding projections is out and the board did not even want him around to help with the transition. The chairman role is specifically for the the ex-CEO to maintain the vision and share his experience.
Twilio plays a critical role as a buffer between the Telecom Triopoly, Messaging Monopolies; and all the innovators / developers. If Twilio gets sliced and diced, as seems likely given the Activist infestor’s demands, as Johnny expressed in the podcast, “Innovation dies.” There will be a feeding frenzy across the short sellers: Sinch, Bandwidth, etc. Watch out, you’re next.
Anson, is a short-seller out of Toronto. Check out this Reddit post from last year titled “Anson Funds Desperate For $350 Million Amid DOJ Investigation.” Also read the comments in that article. Anson ended up being fined by the DoJ for short-selling. The violation was Rule 105 of Regulation M under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Rule 105”), which prohibits short selling an equity security during a restricted period.
With only 2M Twilio shares out of 181M Anson appear to have Twilio over a barrel. There must be more, there had to be a threat, a sanction. Possibly linked to a potential shareholder lawsuit associated with the failed Syniverse IPO through a SPAC where Twilio paid $750M for a minority stake in Syniverse. On the podcast Johnny shares the conversation he had with Christopher Kiper at Legion, one of the Legion people moved to Anson…
Since Twilio’s investment in Syniverse was announced I’ve been asking what Twilio received for that investment. All that cash likely went to Carlyle, they want out of Syniverse. Its 18 months after the deal and I’ve not seen “Syniverse and Twilio accelerate the next wave of innovation in intelligent connectivity and communications.” Is this yet another stitch-up of Twilio by the Telecom Triopoly like we saw with ZipWhip where they buy them, then the 800SMS monopoly is revoked.
Bottom-line, what happened to Jeff is wrong. What’s going to happen to Twilio is unacceptable to everyone in the industry. There needs to be an investigation to what threat / sanction Anson had over Twilio. And what really happened on the $750M investment in Syniverse. As Jim Cramer stated, Lawson is Innocent! We all need to demand action, and not sympathize with Jeff’s abuse.