Twilio Raises $17 Million Series C From Bessemer and Union Square To Expand Abroad

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Cloud communications pioneer Twilio is dominating the US with APIs that let developers add SMS, voice, and VoIP functionality to apps. Now it plans to roll out services to 20 more European countries using a $17 million Series C funding round. The investment comes from Bessemer Venture Partners and Union Square Ventures, both of which participated in its Series B a year ago, and brings Twilio to a total of $33.7 million in funding.

When I asked exactly where the funding would go, CEO and co-founder Jeff Lawson answered “Build up the sales team, build up the marketing team, building out product and hiring more engineers. A major area of growth for us is international. We’re in the UK and will be rolling out to the rest of Europe in the next couple months.”

Apparently, it was easy choosing to stick with Bessemer Venture Partners. Lawson tells me “The board made the decision [for Twilio to take a Series C round], and immediately Bessemer turned around and gave us a very compelling term sheet. They let me focus on building the company and not on funding.” Bessemer’s Byron Deeter and Union Square’s Albert Wenger remain on Twilio’s board of directors, and Lawson says they are “very much involved in the company in a good way, helping with recruiting and strategy.”

The funding will help Twilio maintain momentum after a big year, and continue hiring aggressively. The San Francisco-based company grew from 25 employees to nearly 100 in 2011, and increased its customer base by 400% to reach 75,000 developers. It launched Twilio Client which allows developers to integrate cloud communications capabilities into any application, and Twilio Connect so developers can let Twilio directly bill their clients or end-users for functionality usage.

In October it brought its services to the UK so local and US developers could attain UK phone numbers. With the funding, it will expand to cover France, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, and most other major European nations, though Germany and Ireland are noticeably absent. The push responds to the Twilio’s top customer request for the ability to reach an international audience.

Lawson tells me the end goal for Twilio is to “open the black box of telecom, and move the world away from the legacy of Cisco and Microsoft’s big expensive [hardware] that you put in your closet and watch age. We’re reinventing with the cloud, and it gets better every time we deploy code.” With well-laid plans for global domination and the funding to back it up, it will be difficult for anyone to catch up to Twilio.