Twilio Signs First Big International Cloud Telephony Licensing Deal With Japan’s #2 Telecom KDDI

Breaking into Japan can be tough for foreign companies since its culture favors credibility and certainty. So Twilio has just struck an exclusive alliance with Japan’s well-respected KDDI telecom who will now sell its cloud communication APIs to developers. The news follows Twilio’s huge deal with AT&T this month, and could be the model for how it gains local penetration around the world.

Twilio wants to spread its cloud VoIP, SMS, shortcode, and phone call platform to the corners of the earth. That’s why it’s been buddying up with overseas carriers to navigate regulation and grab unique phone numbers. The KDDI deal is its biggest international partnership yet, though.

Starting in Spring 2013, Japanese developers and businesses will be able to buy Twilio APIs through KDDI Web Communications without ever having to sign up with Twilio or even really know they’re its customers. In this way, KDDI acts a validating layer of trust on top of the American startup.

KDDI is second only to Nippon Telegraph And Telephone (NTT) in terms of Japanese telecom revenue. Its reach could get Japanese call centers, board rooms, and mobile apps using Twilio to cheaply replace traditional phone menu systems, conference calls, and SMS alerts. Twilio’s CEO Jeff Lawson tells me striking local deals helps it “reach developers, SMBs and large enterprises based on existing relationships with the partner.”

It will have to grapple with increasing competition in the cloud telecom space, though. Also, some carriers may try to build their own APIs or buy a startup that has them instead of licensing from Twilio.

Leveraging the AT&T and KDDI licensing deals could help Twilio convince more carriers around the globe to embrace its vision of the future. Considering it just added support for 20 new countries at once, it’ll need all the localization help it can get. I’d expect it to chase similar partnerships in the UK, Brazil, and Israel. Those areas are becoming hot beds for startups that could help Twilio on its quest to serve 200,000 developers.