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Twilio confirms it is buying Segment for $3.2B in an all-stock deal



Twilio today announced its biggest acquisition to date, spearheading a strong move into customer data management alongside its existing API-based tools for building and running customer communications services. Twilio is paying $3.2 billion “in Twilio Class A common stock, on a fully diluted and cash free, debt free basis” to acquire Segment, a marketing technology startup that lets organizations pull in customer data from one app into another, by way of APIs, and use its platform to better control the movement of that customer data.

The deal is expected to close in Q4 2020, and Segment will become a division of Twilio, the companies said.

The deal was first reported to be in the works on Friday. (FWIW we’d also gotten the same tip and had been investigating it when that story got published. Our sources had said that the deal was going to be between $3 billion and $4 billion, and announced possibly as soon as Monday.)

“Data silos destroy great customer experiences,” said Jeff Lawson, co-founder and CEO of Twilio, in a statement. “Segment lets developers and companies break down those silos and build a complete picture of their customer. Combined with Twilio’s Customer Engagement Platform, we can create more personalized, timely and impactful engagement across customer service, marketing, analytics, product and sales. We are thrilled to welcome Segment to the Twilio team.”

“Together, Twilio and Segment have an incredible opportunity to build the customer engagement platform of the future,” added Peter Reinhardt, Segment’s co-founder and CEO. “We created Segment to help businesses set themselves apart in the digital age and deliver rich, connected customer experiences built on high-quality data. By joining forces and applying our customer data platform to Twilio’s engagement cloud, we’ll be able to make the entire customer experience seamless from end-to-end.”

This is Twilio’s biggest acquisition since it picked up SendGrid for $2 billion to add email to its range of communications tools back in 2018. Segment was last valued at $1.5 billion at its last raise.

Acquiring Segment is a natural progression of how Twilio has evolved over the last decade.

Twilio first made its name as a startup in 2008 by providing an easy way for companies to integrate text and voice services into their apps. Using APIs and few lines of code, companies could tap into the fast-growing world of smartphone and app usage by putting the tools to communicate with their users directly into their apps.

Over time, those basic tools have taken more shape with a wider range of communications sources such as email and chatbots, and with a more focused set of applications aimed at different verticals using them, and more tools to enable and better manage customer relations.

Using acquisitions to build that part of the business is part of the company’s strategy. One source tells us that Twilio actually tried to acquire Intercom, the customer relations messaging service, back in 2014 and 2015. The companies could not agree on a price at the time, our source said. (Watch this space?)

These days, Twilio’s Solutions business is focused on applications in marketing, customer service and customer identity. All of these are big use cases for Segment, which has some 20,000 customers using its platform to “collect, clean and control” customer data.

Acquiring Segment could potentially bring a lot more customers to the Twilio platform, opening the door to upselling those customers with other services Twilio offers. And given Segment’s stated focus on providing better tools to handle customer data more responsibly, in an environment where awareness (and breaches of this area is only growing by the day, it gives Twilio a much stronger product set to speak to that need.

There are also some interesting synergies already. Not only are both built around the architecture of using APIs to integrate other services/port data from one place to another, but there’s an existing integration between the two, which may be getting used a lot already.

And as one source pointed out to us, there are already a lot of what the source referred to as “Xwilions” (ex-Twilio people) working at the smaller company.

They include CFO Sandy Smith, advisor Sandy O’Gorman, and CSO Colleen Coolidge, who has also hired a number of ex-Twilio engineers.

You might argue that customer service (the main idea of what Twilio has been building) and customer experience (Segment’s jam) are different things, but the two are connected: one of the big by-products of communications is data, and companies will be looking for better ways of linking up the creation of it, with the repurposing/use of it. In other words, the two complement each other.


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Vivo makes big expansion into Europe



Vivo, one of the largest smartphone brands in the world, is expanding its operations in Europe. The company will now sell phones and accessories in six new markets: the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain.

Vivo is kicking things off with the X51 5G flagship phone, essentially a rebranded version of the X50 that launched earlier in the year. Its headline feature is a “gimbal-style” camera system that is claimed to offer much-improved image stabilization.

The X51’s other features include ultrawide, 2x, and 5x telephoto cameras, a Snapdragon 765 processor, a 90Hz 6.56-inch 1080p OLED screen, 256GB of storage, a 4,315mAh battery, and 33W fast charging. It’ll cost £749 ($972) in the UK and go on sale on October 29th.

The company will also be selling the Y70, Y20s and Y11s, cheaper phones that focus on long battery life, as well as wireless earbuds and neckbuds.

Vivo is often ranked as one of the top five smartphone vendors worldwide, with large market share in regions like China, India, and Southeast Asia. IDC’s most recent data saw it overtaken by Oppo, however, with which it shares the same owner: BBK Electronics, the large Chinese conglomorate that also owns OnePlus and Realme.

Vivo is known for experimental hardware features that it often shows off in concept form before shipping in commercial products. In-display fingerprint sensors and pop-up selfie cameras are examples of now-commonplace features that Vivo pioneered.


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Netflix will offer its library for free to Indian non-subscribers for a weekend



Earlier this month, Netflix said that it’s ending the 30-day long free trial that it used to entice people into getting a subscription. Today, during its earnings call, the company stated that it’s exploring new ways for people to experience its library before they get a subscription.

The first test the streaming giant is performing is a free weekend-long trial. The company will start this experiment in India, where it’ll offer its service for free on the weekend of December 4, as reported by Protocol.

India is the first of many countries where Netflix will test this two-day “Streamfest” to hopefully gain more subscribers. The company would want to compete with Disney+ Hotstar in the market, which has more than 8 million subscribers in the country.

[Read: What audience intelligence data tells us about the 2020 US presidential election]

“We think that giving everyone in a country access to Netflix for free for a weekend could be a great way to expose a bunch of new people to the amazing stories that we have, the service, how the service works, really create an event, and hopefully get a bunch of those folks to sign up. So we’re going to try that in India,” Greg Peters, the chief operating officer for the company, said on the earnings call.

Netflix has tried various ways to promote its service in a content-crazy market. Last year, it launched a mobile-only subscription plan for Indian users at ₹199 (~$3) a month. The company has also tested byte-sized weekly plans in the country starting from under $1 for a mobile-only subscription. The company also said it’s committed than $420 million to produce local content in the last couple of years.


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A long-awaited Willow sequel is official, and it’s coming to Disney Plus



After years of silence, Disney has confirmed that Lucasfilm’s Willow will receive a sequel, in the form of a TV series coming to its Disney Plus streaming subscription service. The pilot will be directed by Crazy Rich Asians’ John M. Chu.

Willow has largely remained untouched since its original release in 1988, but this long rumored sequel will join existing novels and a comic book that previously built out the world of the film. The original can already be streamed on Disney Plus, and this new series will join The Mandalorian as Lucasfilm’s second television spin-off on the platform.

The 1988 film, directed by Ron Howard, was a cult hit when it first premiered, a fantasy adventure about an aspiring sorcerer named Willow (Warwick Davis) tasked with shepherding infant princess Elora Danan to safety alongside a ragtag group of fairies and warriors played by the likes of Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley and Kevin Pollak.

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Not much is known about the sequel series beyond that it takes place years after the original film, but Ron Howard, now an executive producer, describes it as a “creative lean-forward” rather than a “nostalgic throw-back.” Willow himself will return: Warwick Davis, also a beloved Star Wars veteran, is set to reprise his role.

For Lucasfilm, this Willow series comes after five years of focus on Star Wars exclusively. Now that the Skywalker Saga is wrapped, I’m curious to see what other classics the company might bring back if Willow succeeds. I’m particularly interested in an American Graffiti series; there’s definitely enough teenage angst for a TV show if Riverdale is any indication. And yes, Indiana Jones and Labyrinth are still in the mix too. A fifth Indiana Jones continues to inch its way to production. And while not affiliated with Disney, a sequel to Labyrinth from Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson is also in the making.

Disney has made it clear that Disney Plus is the future of the company, and it needs all the new content it can get even with The Mandalorian returning for a second season and WandaVision on the way. A Willow series on Disney Plus, and perhaps other future Lucasfilm spin-offs, might help.

Though there’s no announced release date for this new series, the original film is available to stream on Disney Plus and remains as charming as ever. All the better for fans new and old to reacquaint themselves before the next adventure starts.


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