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March 08, 2013

Twilio Mirrors Facebook's App Funding

By Wayne Adam, Contributing Writer

In an attempt to recreate Facebook’s success, Twilio (News - Alert), an unlisted internet telephony firm and VoIP services provider, is giving financial incentives for developers to build apps in hopes that these new companies—the next generation of Ubers—will adopt and spread its technology.

“We started Twilio to be a platform for developers,” chief executive Jeff Lawson said. “Now it is in the realm of software people to build the future of how we communicate.”

This unorthodox method of giving money to start-ups to build apps was a tactic used by Facebook (News - Alert) to help expand its influence in the days before the company became the publicly traded Internet giant it is today. Back then, Facebook didn’t front any capital, but it did collect a variety of Facebook apps, such as Wildfire, which was sold to Google (News - Alert) for a reported $350 million. 

Image via Shutterstock

Consequently, Twilio is also mirroring the fbFund, a $10 million fund launched in 2009 by Facebook backers Sean Parker, a partner at venture capital firm Founders Fund, and Jim Breyer of Accel Partners (News - Alert), as well as managed by Dave McClure, who is attempting to reproduce the same success with Twilio.

McClure, a venture capitalist and Twilio investor, has pledged to fund half of twilio’s latest European fund in hopes to further expand twilio’s influence in the international marketplace and his (McClure’s) expertise as a start up investor.

"Why do you rob Banks? That is where all the money is," McClure said. "Twilio is going after a global solution, and after the U.S., Europe is probably the biggest market for them to hit."

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