SFO Airport, June 2010, I just got off my plane to attend Apple’s WWDC, working as an iOS contractor for one of the biggest airline companies in the world. Once the A380’s landing gear touched the macadam, I turned off Airplane Mode, checked my email, and got an email from my customer:
Alongside push notifications, we’d also like to send SMS in case of notification failure, would it be possible?
Honestly, I never had to deal with SMS (and neither “notification failure” TBH) and prior to that day I had absolutely no ideas of players in the game. I didn’t reply immediately, as got a bunch of time, it was midnight in France.
On the way to my hotel, downtown San Francisco (WWDC took place at that time in the Georges Moscone West Center) I recall seeing a red add, for a Unified Communication API, it was Twilio.
Building the future of communication
From that day on, when in need of a voice / text / whatever-related-communications-infrastructure (which, is honestly quite frequent when building iOS Apps and customers startups) I’m always using the Twilio tool belt which becomes more and more powerful, each single year.
It might not be the cheapest product, definitely, but it’s yet the most reliable API I’ve found (and believe me I tried competitors…), with a really good documentation and tutorials you can follow along building your own solution, and an amazing community which is ready to help you 24/7.
Spread the Signal!
Signal is Twilio’s annual event for customers and developers, which take place in the heart of Silicon Valley, in San Francisco at the Moscone West Center (for 2019 and the upcoming 2020), before that it holds in the Bill Graham Convention Center and at Pier 27.
For 2 years, they also organized a smaller, 1 day Signal in London.
And even before that for a couple of years, they organized TwilioCon.
Signal SF 2019, yet the biggest one, will be my 6th, if you’re not bad in calculation, and I’m sure you’re not, I’ve been to every single Signal ever, both in SF and in London 😃.
The 2019’s edition
Sunday, Champion’s summit!
Good vibes with innovators.
A year ago, during Signal’s BA$H, Megan Speir came to me saying “Do you want to be a Twilio Champion”. At that time I had absolutely no idea of want being a champion could/would be (and as it was at the very beginning, I guess neither does she or at least not exactly 😅).
Without diving into the details, we’re a group of (~100) software engineers, start-up founders, blog writers,… who inspire the community by using Twilio’s product, sort of external advocates and brand ambassador. If you want to join, ping me on twitter sayin’ why you should be one, champions can recommend fellows.
On Sunday, we had a special event at Twilio HQ, where we almost all gather together, meet, greet, eat, learn from our pairs.
There I had the chance to meet, amongst others:
- April (@vogueandcode on Twitter) who learned to code Python 🐍 in a weekend to get a cool job in tech leaving the fashion industry.
- Chloe (@ChloeCondon) who’s now working at Microsoft. She builds a IoT fake button to escape weird conversations, so cool!
- Rea (@rea_loretta) founder of Toast, an app to view pull request on Slack.
- Quique (@qborreda), a fellow European React lover, who’s working at DEVLP.
And I was super happy to meet my French Mafia buddy Nicolas, dev 🥑 at Typeform.
After a breakfast and some nice talks, we had a discussion with Twilions, about their products, their education, what they love, etc.
During the lunch we had the pleasure to see jeffiel, and George (Twilio’s COO). Followed by a bunch of lightning talks, and we then moved to different groups, for different cool activities.
We ended this summit around 5.30 pm, with a nice gift box containing champions’ pin’s, stickers, pen, a nice hoodie, and a certificate signed by Jeff himself!
Day Zero: Monday/Superclass
Day zero is usually Superclass, the hands-on training for Twilio APIs, and gosh, what training it was!
Honestly, it wasn’t completely a surprise, Greg gave me access to this game (because it’s really a game) in beta, couple of weeks ago, sooo fun. Love it, you should try it!
And for the tech readers in the place, it’s React + Electron + Phaser.js
We were in a team, with my friend Jen and a few others! All from different countries, so naturally, we were team Countries. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do the full day as I had other commitments throughout the day.
Including Founders forum, the side event for startups, and Twilio’s Creators Cocktail reception in the evening.
Day One : Tuesday.
Let’s kickstart the day with a inaugural keynote, ft. jeffiel of course, and featured speakers like people from DoorDash or Netflix
Twilio announced to have 6M developers on its platform and 160,000+ company using it (including Uber, Netflix, Airbnb, Deliveroo, Just a Call 😁…)
This video is (of course) my preferred moment when I had the honor to hear my name and my last project.
During this keynote a lot of new products were announced including:
- 👨🏻💻 Twilio CLI: The open-source tool for developers, allowing us to leverage Twilio API in the place we’re comfortable: the terminal, I played a bit with it, it’s really cool, written in JS, it’s fully hackable.
- 🗣 Media Stream: This API is tremendous, I’ve been in the alpha for a while (thanks Kris) we now have access in real time to the inbound or outbound voice stream to perform on or analyze the tone and quality of the call, prior to that we had to wait for the transcription, processed a bit after the call.
- 💌 Sendgrid Verification API: I’ve waited this for a long time (and I’ve used MailboxLayer API before). As suggested it’ll verify email for protected reputation. This API sounds cool, mostly because Sendgrid sends billions of mail a year (half a trillion, last year), so leveraging machine learning algorithms, it’ll be nice to have. However, 100 free request/mo. is a bit ridiculous IMO, 500 or 1000 would be nicer.
- 💬 Conversation API : For years, Twilio allows us to reach customers with SMS, MMS (USA only), Chat or WhatsApp. But if we wanted to sync these channels, we were in need to build the business logic on our own servers, this time is now over. Conversation API is a unified API to engage with our customers in group conversations across any messaging app. Looking forward to using it.
Did I mention that this keynote ended by a funny YMCA ? So cool. 🤩
Signal is also, 80+ speakers, and 100+ breakout sessions, on the 1st day I’ve attended 2, Kris’ about Media Stream, and Stripe’s about <Pay/>.
Day 2: Wednesday.
Day 2 keynote is about IoT, SuperNetwork and Twilio.org.
We heard about :
- 📞✅ Verified by Twilio : A way to restore trust in the phone call by providing consumers verified information about who is contacting them and why (I’m lookin’ forward to implement this ASAP)
- TwilioQuest 3 : The RPG for developers (see above)
- Twilio.org Impact Fund : A $5M fund to help NGO and charity to leverage communications technology supporting people in crisis.
I’ve spent most of my time networking with my peers in the Creator lobby and in the community hall, and had a super side chat with Andres, I knew online for years, and met IRL for the first time at Signal.
Closing Signal : The BA$H!
The BA$H was for years the mostly geeky party (I even had a fax machine signed by Jeff in 2016), this year BA$H was a bit less geeky but nonetheless amazing.
OK, OK, there was no fax machines, BUT! We had MAKLEMORE himself, and what a show (normal, we free him from the cloud!), assuming that I paid a LOT to see him back in 2016 in Paris. I was really amazed, and enjoyed the show in the very front line!
One thing I usually forget though, American are ending their parties around 9.30 / 10 pm, assuming, it’s the time we usually start ours in France 😁…
This was MY Signal 2019, it was amazing and I’ll fly all the way from Europe to be there, of course, in 2020 !
I seriously hope to see you there ! (Tickets are on early bird prices : actually at $400, $2100 off until September) worth it, definitely !
About me :
I’m Clément, a French entrepreneur and software engineer. I’m currently building Streamline App, the world’s biggest icon collection, and also CEO and founder of Just A Call, the next generation call center for 100 % on Slack and Yopt’in.
For further update you can follow me on Twitter and if you liked this post, feel free to clap it !