Since Sameer joined SendGrid at CEO in 2014, the company has quadrupled its revenue, more than doubled its employees, experienced a successful initial public offering and was recently acquired by Twilio in a transaction valued at approximately $2 billion. In this session, Anna and Sameer will highlight SendGrid’s journey from growth stage through acquisition and why focusing on people and culture is mission critical to success as a company goes through the scaling process.

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Sameer Dhokalia | CEO @ SendGrid

Anna Khan | VP @ BVP


Announcer: Please welcome SendGrid CEO Sameer Dholakia and Bessemer Venture Partners Vice President Anna Khan.

Sameer Dhokalia: Okay. All right.

Anna Khan: Hello, can you, oh, that was loud. Okay, you can hear us. I’ve never been behind a table before so I feel very talk show hosty. But I’m Anna Khan, as you guys heard. I’m a vice president at Bessemer Venture Partners, which is a venture capital firm, which was very lucky to be a part of SendGrid’s journey. I’ll let Sameer introduce himself, but then I have a quick introduction for Sameer, too.

Sameer Dhokalia: Hey, good afternoon everyone. I’m Sameer Dholakia, CEO of now Twilio SendGrid as of Friday after our completed acquisition.

Anna Khan: Awesome. Well, you guys have probably all read Sameer’s bio and his resume and heard about the SendGrid Twilio journey, but I think the reason why I wanted to do this interview with him is because there’s some things that people don’t know about Sameer, which I think are interesting to note. A fun story is that I met Sameer about five years ago at a cloud conference. We were split up into groups. He was put on a table with me, but with a group that he was unfamiliar with.

Anna Khan: What stuck with me was that he treated every single person on that table as if they were the most important person in the room. This was anyone from a marketing analyst at a small startup, to a junior analyst at my firm, to a cloud CEO like him. That really stuck with me. I was like, this person is special beyond his professional accolades. Unfortunately, it’s something that, I think, you don’t really see in the valley a lot and something that the people close to Sameer and the employees of SendGrid know really intimately.

Anna Khan: Since then, we’ve become good friends and he’s been a CEO reference for me in building my portfolio. We’ve run into each other at Taylor Swift concerts where I had no excuse but he was with his daughter at a father-daughter day, which was great. But, yeah, that’s Sameer for you. But most people are here in the room to hear about your journey. I think it’s a really special one.

Anna Khan: Because in four years, a lot of people can’t say this, but you came into a company, you grew it to $100 million ARR plus, you took it public, and then it was acquired for $2.9 billion. That’s all great but I’m going to start with a tougher question which is you were brought in four years ago to SendGrid, and you weren’t a founder. Actually, in the valley people are very biased against that. You were brought in as, let’s say, turnaround CEO. How did that feel? How did you start that?

Sameer Dhokalia: Thank you for that kind story. I think others in the room, all of us are well-informed to remember that those who are closest to the work and the customers actually are the ones who often have the greatest insights. Treating everyone at the table with equal respect that you can learn from all those around you regardless of level is always a good thing. I appreciate all the things that have transpired over the last four years. We definitely have a saying at SendGrid, “It’s we, not I.” I didn’t do all those things. We collectively as a company were fortunate in doing all those things and, boy, was it a heck of a team effort, and it was a lot of fun.

Sameer Dhokalia: To your question, coming in, it was October of 2014, and it was a challenge. I won’t lie. You don’t make a CEO change if everything is going perfectly. All CEO changes were tough and ours was no different than that. The principle challenge that surfaced I would say at the time was the growth rate of the business was decelerating at a fairly rapid clip.

Sameer Dhokalia: The company had enjoyed great success from day one. From the early days, our founders, we had three amazing founders, Tim, Isaac and Jose, who had this great idea to solve this what turned out to be a ubiquitous problem that every developer building an app had. But the growth rate was slowing. We were about probably $30 million of trailing revenue at the time that I joined and the growth rate had decelerated from the tripling, to the doubling, to the 75, to the 50. We were at I think around 40 around the time that I joined. We were going to be at 30 within a quarter or two. Then we didn’t know if that was going to continue to go into the 20s and below, or what was that going to look like.

Sameer Dhokalia: We had our work cut out for us. But, clearly, I would say one of the things that was … I had a number of things to my great advantage. One was while the CEO transition was hard, the founder to CEO transition was not. I had the incredible support of all three founders. Isaac Saldana, in particular, took me up to the front of the room on my day one and introduced me to the company and said, “We’re one team and we, the board, Isaac was on the board, we believe that Sameer can really contribute here, so please give him your support.”

Sameer Dhokalia: It was really helpful to not have any of the usual dynamics, and it is fairly common, to have dynamics between founders and a hired CEO. I had none of those. That was to my great benefit. Then we also had just great raw ingredients. The business, while it had decelerated, it was still an extraordinary service. It was still a ubiquitous market. We had created an incredible brand with developers, in particular, and created developer love for what we did and the product. We had a great easy-to-use pricing model. We had a lot of things that were going for us in terms of raw ingredients.

Sameer Dhokalia: I’ll tell you, again, to dissuade anyone from believing any of the hero stuff, the last company that I sold, the last CEO job that I had, I sold for literally two orders of magnitude less than this last one. I’ll tell you that I’m no smarter and probably dumber now than I was then. It is predicated on what you have to work with. What are the raw materials? What market are you in? What can you do with it?

Anna Khan: You think you knew about those raw materials taking the gig?

Sameer Dhokalia: I did. I had fallen in love with the business, despite the challenges and there were many in those early days, I knew that this was special. That this company, sort of the old cliché of the diamond in the rough. You could see the brilliance under a little bit of, there’s some dirt on it that had to be brushed off. But it was clear to me that it did have this, it was solving a ubiquitous problem that it had an, one of the things I talk a lot about, they had an extraordinary culture that had been built into the business and that is so hard to create and replicate. I know that that is part of every formula of success that I’ve ever seen in a business.

Sameer Dhokalia: The go-to-market model was magical. It was developers finding our service and trying it out, dropping our APIs into their code and then putting your credit card down. We were signing up hundreds of new paying customers every month with five sales reps. It was an extraordinary … There were things that were very obvious even at the time. This business is special.

Anna Khan: I think we talked about you going in as a CEO. You were a non-founder but there was some very raw, great ingredients there. You had buy-in from the founders, so that introduction to the company really set you up well. Then you went in and the company was doing, let’s say, about $30 million in ARR. Sameer likes to talk about this SendGrid smile that I want him to explain to you. But there were a few things there that made it happen.

Anna Khan: A lot of the CEOs in the room, I think, would love to hear about that. I think you touched on some of those. It’s the culture was a big part of it, the fact that you had this great go-to-market. But, also, you and I have talked about this. There was something special about the market where some of the education had been done before. There was an adjacent market. Maybe share a little bit of those learnings with the group.

Sameer Dhokalia: I mean, I think one of the things I remember vividly from that first month on the job and I would basically go around on the listening tours, as many new leaders do, and talk with people that are closest to the business and the customers and you’d ask them what can we absolutely not stop doing? What is part of the magic of this place? What are we screwing up that you would say, “Please, Sameer, help us go fix this tomorrow”?

Sameer Dhokalia: It turns out if you do ask those two basic questions of 100 people in your business, you will learn an awful lot about what needs to be focused on. We did that, and one of the things that came out loud and clear was, “We want clarity on our mission and vision.” Because we were at this existential crisis of are we a, let me see if I remember it, are we an email company that happened to start selling to developers, or are we a developer services company who happened to start with email? This is just a fundamental strategy question.

Sameer Dhokalia: We could’ve gone down the developer services path and said we’re going to open up other APIs and compete with a whole other set of players. We could’ve built a Stripe alternative and a Twilio alternative and so on and so forth. Or we could’ve gone down a different path. We ended up choosing to go down the, actually, we have this brand and expertise and credibility around email that we can go build on.

Sameer Dhokalia: We said, we’re going to start from being an email company and broaden to being a communications company that’s multichannel. We could then … We had the great fortune of having an adjacent market that allowed us to go after a second product market which was email marketing, as opposed to the transactional email that our business was built on where the developers plug in our API and we send you an Uber receipt, or an Airbnb confirmation of a stay, or a Hertz reservation notice, so on and so forth. The promotional newsletter that you may get in your inbox, those types of things.

Sameer Dhokalia: There’s this huge adjacent market that leveraged all the things that SendGrid got very good at over the preceding five years, over its first five years. We needed to have one of the world’s largest sending infrastructures. You needed to understand how do we keep the bad actors out and use machine learning to prevent spammers and phishers from taking advantage of our system. You needed to have relationships with inbox service providers like Gmail and Yahoo. We had all that stuff.

Sameer Dhokalia: So to build the application on top of our infrastructure and enter a whole new market, the barrier to do that for us as a company was actually quite low and we were able to do that. This year we’ll probably do as much in revenue this year in 2019 with that second product as all of SendGrid was doing at the time that I joined. So we were able to launch that new business and that provided a tailwind to growth, as well.

Sameer Dhokalia: Those are the kinds of things that then ultimately, operationally, we had to get a lot more disciplined. So we would push our go-to-market teams and say, “Okay, if our self-service model is the way that we typically acquire customers on the web to put credit cards down, what else could we be doing from a DemandGen perspective? Instead of spending X millions per year, could we spend 2X?” The answer turned out, the answer was actually, “Yeah, we could.” In fact, this year we’re probably spending 10X what we did in 2014 when we just had to get a lot more creative and go find other ways. And that created a whole new growth tailwind.

Anna Khan: But if you guys had done all the hard stuff, and what I mean by hard stuff is really building strong infrastructure to send emails, I mean, most people don’t realize that when you take an Uber and you get that receipt like this, there’s actually a lot of hard infrastructure in play that’s making that happen, how did you make people realize that that’s really special? We should talk about that more and then we can scale that more? Because it existed, or do you think you made it more powerful as the CEO, as the leader?

Sameer Dhokalia: No, I think, well, we had an extraordinary business where the infrastructure was supporting a high-growth rate as it was. But I think it was within 12 months of my joining, we realized that infrastructure, as much as it had scaled to that point, was not going to continue to scale. So we actually in 2015 created a project that was called Pipeline 2020. We said, okay, let’s go build the next generation infrastructure that is going to scale to sending a trillion emails in a single year, which was more than we had sent lifetime to date, because we knew you just had to have foresight.

Sameer Dhokalia: You just had to do the math, actually, and say, “Okay, given our rate of growth, if we don’t get ahead of this and we know it’s going to take us literally years to go build a new platform that would scale at that level, if you don’t get ahead of it, you’re going to be in trouble.” So these are the kinds of things, I think, as a growth stage company. When you’re going from X tens of millions of dollars with an eye towards 100 plus, you have to start thinking in multiyear planning horizons, which I don’t think is obvious.

Sameer Dhokalia: Because when you’re in truly startup mode, which was the first company I did, and we’re pre-revenue, pre-customers, you’re looking quarter to quarter. But once you get to growth stage, you got to start looking year-to-year, out three to five years. And that was an important shift, I think, for our leadership team.

Sameer Dhokalia: We also, frankly, ended up having to have a whole new leadership team that knew how to do that, because the prior leadership team was really great at getting it from zero to 30. That was perfect. But for 30 to 100, you actually had to think in a very different time horizon, and in a very different way. You had to have seen what great looked like at scale, how can process be used to your advantage as opposed to a hindrance. We ended up hiring, I think, seven of our eight executive leaders were different within two years of my arrival. That wasn’t because we didn’t have wonderful people in those seats before, we just had a different chapter to go pursue.

Anna Khan: I guess the obvious question there is that doesn’t sound like an easy task.

Sameer Dhokalia: No.

Anna Khan: So was it stressful? How did the company respond to that? How did you take away from the business and actually spend time recruiting? What can people learn from that experience?

Sameer Dhokalia: I would strongly encourage folks, I think, there’s often a pressure, and I certainly felt it, from your board and investors, go fast. Hurry up, there’s lots to get done and market window and so on. My response to our board was, “This is not one I’m going to go fast on. I believe getting these hires right will be the determiner of success or failure for our long-term.” I said, “I’m going to do one per quarter for the next two years.” That’s exactly what we ended up doing. There’s one point in time where I got impatient, and I tried to do two in a single quarter, and I almost killed myself.

Sameer Dhokalia: Because to actually do that kind of a search well for one of your executive leaders, who you expect to then come in and help transform that function, to go find the best in the market, not just in caliber and talent but in culture fit with your team, boy, that takes a lot of time. You got to kiss a lot of frogs. There’s a lot, I mean, that just takes a lot of breakfast, lunch, dinners, coffees, that executive search process is involved. If you get that wrong, boy, I tell you, you pay the price for those. When you get those wrong you lose years of your company’s life.

Sameer Dhokalia: We took it slow, and we got the right people. The reason, and it was super stressful and painful because you’re trying to run the day-to-day while you’re trying to go and hire a critical person, and you’re having to say goodbye to somebody who’s been really important to the building of the place to get you here.

Sameer Dhokalia: I really think, this is where our culture has been so important to us. We would just, we have our four Hs were the moniker for the SendGrid culture; happy, hungry, humble, and honest. We would use all four of those in the conversation with our leaders and say we have to have an honest conversation about what needs to happen in the company’s best interest for the next chapter. And then align on that and then figure out transition plans and all that.

Sameer Dhokalia: I’m proud that I still have great relationships with all those folks that ended up moving on. They’ve moved on to wonderful things, things that align to what they’re great at and what they want to do. The company was able to absorb that kind of change, but it was only because we did it one a quarter. I’m convinced, had I hired, I think, in hindsight, had I tried to hire in all eight in one go, in the first six to 12 months, I just don’t believe … I think companies are like people. You can only absorb so much change.

Sameer Dhokalia: If I said, “Tomorrow I need you to change your job and move to Indiana and go pick up this new skillset and you’re now going to start dating this other person.” You can’t do all that in a short period of time. We’re not wired for that level of change that quickly. Anyways, that was a big part of, I think, how we were able to get through that chapter.

Anna Khan: Then, you were very successful in that smile curve. It was decelerating and then you put all these things in motion and you were well on your way to $100 million ARR. You had passed that mark. I remember there was so much excitement at SendGrid when it happened. Then there’s this looming cloud and there are actually clouds here, over your head where then you start getting pressure from a lot of forces about, oh, you’re at that magic number and what do you think about going public now? A lot of CEOs really dream of that and a lot of employees and companies dream of that. How did you, your executive team, larger SendGrid, think about the going IPO process? Because there are pros and cons of-

Sameer Dhokalia: Of being public.

Anna Khan: Private.

Sameer Dhokalia: Yeah, for sure.

Anna Khan: How did you think about that and how did you discuss that with your company?

Sameer Dhokalia: Yeah, for sure. I think in the early days we were so focused on that SendGrid smile, that deceleration of the growth rate and we said, “Gosh, we just got to flatten it. Let’s just flatten to the bottom of the smile and then we’ll work on re-acceleration.” By the time we got to early 2017, we had really turned that curve and it was accelerating again at a far greater scale than when we were decelerating, which was really exciting.

Sameer Dhokalia: Like I said, it was all those things we talked about previously. One of the fun stories that I always loved was that operational discipline, where you got to get into the weeds and figure it out. One of the things after the triple-click analysis, as we like to call it, was we were having our lunch eaten by a particular competitor. They had on their website this checklist of features that they had. Check for them, X for us, check for them, X for us.

Sameer Dhokalia: We created this tiger team and said, “We want one of those gone every single month. Just take them off, go close those gaps, because we’re the market leader. We invented this category. Isaac, Tim, and Jose built this place. Let’s have some pride of ownership of what we built and we got to go be the best in the industry at what we do for our customers.”

Sameer Dhokalia: Literally, that team took one of them every single month. Our general counsel would call their general counsel and say, “That’s no longer true. You must take that down.” And they would call back next month, “That’s no longer true. You must take that down.” And they did that the third month, “That’s no longer true. You must take that down.” The web page with that check/X thing went down six months later. And that competitor exited the market nine months later. That created another tailwind behind the business.

Sameer Dhokalia: All those things led to that acceleration of the SendGrid smile. By early ’17, we really were then ready to say, “You know what? We could take the company public.” We knew that because we could predict within a percentage point what our revenue was going to be. Margin was a little bit harder, but on the revenue line which is, as a public company which you really had to focus on, we could call it. We could call it and you’d literally write the number on an envelope at the beginning of the month, or the beginning of the quarter and you’d put it in the drawer, and you’d pull it back out at the end and say, “Did I get a check or not?” Because if you got that answer wrong, you knew getting that answer wrong as a public company was going to be really painful, and that would tell you you’re not ready.

Sameer Dhokalia: We went through that exercise and three quarters in a row, many months in a row, I’m like, “Yep, we’re ready.” So now the question is, should we go up? There was a lot of debate about that at the board, with the management team. I think we ended up, and I think there were a lot of people on both sides of the argument. You could easily make the argument it’s a pain in the arse to be public. You got a lot of overhead, and there’s all these regulations, and you got to do these earnings calls, and invest in investor marketing. There is, there’s a ton of overhead with being public.

Sameer Dhokalia: I’m on the side of the argument, I think Bill Gurley makes the same argument, that being public instills a discipline and a rigor that you have to have if you expect to withstand the scrutiny of the public eye. You just can’t do that if you are not buttoned up. I actually think it makes a company better to be public. There are certain things that you just can’t have happen if you are a public company. I mean, some of the … Anyway, I won’t get into other companies, but there are other companies that have challenges that would not have happened. They couldn’t have happened had they been public because it would have been more buttoned up. They would have had more process, they would’ve had more controls. They would’ve had stronger leaders. They would’ve had a number of things addressed.

Sameer Dhokalia: For us, we looked at it and we said, “We certainly can.” And I believed at that point, our company had been, at that point, 2017, we’re eight years old. The investors had been in the business for a long time. We had a lot of early employees who had been building this place brick by brick who, I believed, should have that moment. And it was a super fun moment.

Sameer Dhokalia: We took every SendGrid employee who had been with the company for more than four or five years, we flew to New York City to have sort of the all expense paid trip to New York for the IPO. It was awesome. It was so much fun. I’ll never forget those moments and the looks on people’s faces. I remember our teammates that literally had tears streaming down their face as the SendGrid banner unfurled in front of the New York Stock Exchange the night before the IPO. I’ll never forget that moment.

Sameer Dhokalia: I’ll never forget standing on the podium and we did the call back, we have this tradition at SendGrid, “I say Send, you say Grid. Send, Grid, Send, Grid.” It was so loud that literally the CNBC folks that film right in front of the New York Stock Exchange, Jim Cramer is like, “What is going on back there? Who are these people?” It was a super fun moment.

Anna Khan: You were able to share it with your family, too, which was great.

Sameer Dhokalia: Absolutely. My wife was there because God knows I would never have been able to take this opportunity, take the job, if not for her love and support and sacrifices while she had a bigger job, and a bigger career, was the breadwinner in our family when I joined SendGrid, and two young kids. And she still said, “I’ve never seen you fall in love with an opportunity like this in 20 years. You’re going to do this and we’re going to figure out how.” It was only her sacrifice that allowed me to do this. And for her to be able to be there at the stock exchange with me was priceless.

Sameer Dhokalia: It was super fun. I would say we had a lot of conversation at the company around, and it’s just a milestone. It’s a fundraising event, a marketing event, a really fun milestone to look back and say, “Wow, look at what we got. Look at how far we’ve come.” Okay, now we’re done with that and let’s start looking forward, again because we got the next 10 years to go. We’ve got the next leg on the journey to go. That’s really where we were.

Anna Khan: No, I think that story is really special. And then, of course, the good news didn’t end after that. You guys had a very successful IPO. You were enjoying being a public company. But then you got some acquisition and M&A interest. Most people in the room know about, obviously, the acquisition. We have a fun story around this picture in a second, but you had actually had companies come to you before. They wanted SendGrid to be a part of their story. Whether it was close to the IPO or after the IPO, you had a lot of those conversations. As the CEO and the captain of that ship, how did you think through those?

Sameer Dhokalia: They were, those are stressful conversations. We had one right before the IPO, this is all public in the S4 filings with the SEC with Twilio before we went public. In all the reasons why we said, “Yes,” this time around, were still true then, before the IPO. There’s extraordinary fit in our vision of where the market would go, our business model was the same, developer-led model, culture and values alignment was phenomenal. I love Jeff. I think he’s an amazing human being and an incredible leader. I just thought I could work this guy, I could work for this guy. This is highly unusual.

Sameer Dhokalia: But at the time, we couldn’t make the math work. Our view of what the company was worth on a stand-alone basis as we kept going stand-alone was just different than what they were able to either calculate or afford. So we said, “No,” and that was hard. I’ll tell you, I lost a lot of sleep on that decision. But once we made it we’re like, “Great. Stand-alone, we’re moving on, let’s go.” And plan A has always got to be plan A.

Sameer Dhokalia: We were building when Jeff and I then resumed that conversation. He came back around six months, nine months later and said, “Hey, what do you think about that conversation from before? Now there’s less confusion over the math because you’re a public company. It’s pretty well defined what your valuation is.” And it was hard again because I love the stand-alone opportunity of what we could go do alone.

Sameer Dhokalia: What I came to was, but what we can do together is so much more extraordinary, and we can go do it so much faster than either company could do alone. At the end of the day, once the math problem was gone, all the same reasons that existed about our interest in the first go-around were still there and we decided, you know what? We got to go do this and we’re going to go build an iconic company together and that was it.

Anna Khan: But was that a little difficult to let go of? In part, it’s a little bit of the hubris and saying, “We’re the Gridders.” Usually in the valley, you see an older, stodgy company that’s trying to buy into valley innovation and valley culture. The thing that I find so fascinating about Twilio and SendGrid, and now Twilio together is that you guys had very two distinct and beloved cultures. Was that ever a fear for you that you guys were going to lose some of that Gridder quality?

Sameer Dhokalia: Yeah, it was a huge point of conversation, I think, for both Jeff and I through the process. I give Jeff immense credit because there is that … I think one of the bankers on our side said it well once. He said, “Sameer, you have no idea how many deals that should get done, don’t get done because of hubris.” Because of that dynamic, because of interpersonal things with CEOs and boards and so on, and you never hear about them. The bankers know about them because they’re involved in the conversations, but the public doesn’t know about them. He’s like, “There’s probably a 10-to-one ratio of ones that don’t get done, that should get done.”

Sameer Dhokalia: This one, I believe deeply to my bones why we did it, was these are two kindred spirits, two companies that should be brought together to go accelerate the mission and vision of what the companies could accomplish, and it was because of the way that Jeff approached the conversation. The way he approached me. The way every conversation we had felt like a partnership and a conversation. It didn’t feel to us like we were going to get swallowed up into some borg and be an irrelevant piece of an empire over here. Like we were going to be instrumental in creating that iconic company because we can do things together that couldn’t be done individually.

Anna Khan: Then we previewed this but we didn’t actually talk about before, but I actually surprised Sameer. He didn’t know I was going to include this picture. But this is day one. This is when the companies were fully merged together. Sameer, do you want to tell them what you’re doing and why you and Jeff are wearing the chef hats?

Sameer Dhokalia: We had a great day one. Again, this just speaks to the alignment and the power of the cultures I think. Everyone involved in both companies were like, “You know what? How our teammates feel about this is going to matter a ton to the success of this integration and this acquisition.” The Twilio team just did an amazing job. They literally flew out 50 people to our offices in Denver and in Irvine. They stood at the elevator banks, literally rolled out a red carpet in San Francisco office, had music and pom poms, and high fives and cheering on people like, “This is day one. We’re so excited! We are welcoming the team SendGrid in with open arms.” It was an amazing energy to the combination. It didn’t feel like big company buying little company, we will now board you. It felt the opposite. It felt like coming into a family that is like, “Hey, come on in. We’re going to give you a big back slap and hug.”

Sameer Dhokalia: Jeff and I decided as part of this, “Well, let’s make waffles and pancakes for everybody in every office.” We did it in Denver. We had some other teammates and executives in Irvine and in San Francisco where we made breakfast for everybody. If any of you have ever heard me talk on this topic I care a great deal about this notion of servant leadership, that we’re at the bottom of this inverted pyramid, not at the top cascading down. That we support the hard work of all the people that do the day-to-day rolling of our business. We have a responsibility to steer, but we’re at the bottom. We’re serving those people, removing obstacles and letting them do their best work every day.

Sameer Dhokalia: If you got an entire company of people who you are helping do their best work, I guarantee you, you’ll kick the crap out of everybody in the market you’re trying to serve, and you’ll be the industry leader. I just believe that deeply. As Jeff joked, he’s like, “Well, we definitely have the servant part of servant leadership down here.” But anyways it was super fun and we got to greet all of our teammates as they came in.

Anna Khan: That’s a great picture.

Sameer Dhokalia: Chocolate chip waffles were especially good. They were especially good.

Anna Khan: I have one. I want you to be able to talk about your red jacket. I know you’re really proud of that.

Sameer Dhokalia: I am. I wore this [crosstalk 00:31:47] and it’s both comfy and warm. Twilio has this wonderful tradition that they hand out these Twilio red track jackets once you have built an application on top of the platform, and demoed it in front of the entire company. I’m a non-technical CEO, so I’m not a developer. But I got to work hand-in-hand with one of the amazing DevRel guys on the Twilio team, Greg Baugues, and he helped me through building an app. So I got to learn how to write this app in Python. I did a whole blog post about it.

Anna Khan: Was it harder than you thought?

Sameer Dhokalia: It was actually easier than I thought. It was easier than I thought because there’s so many amazing tools out there now. I loved our own documentation across Twilio and SendGrid. I built an app that actually you texted in your email address to a particular Twilio number that we had set up, it would send you an automated response-

Anna Khan: Oh, I like that.

Sameer Dhokalia: Via text, and then it would parse the email address you had sent in the text and then send you a longer email that I had written about my excitement of our day one. It included this goofy GIF image of bobbleheads of Sameer and Jeff fist pumping. It was just super fun. It was goofy but I got to learn this is how you build the app, and how you use our own platform.

Sameer Dhokalia: I got to say, the platform, the Docs great, their helper library, it was actually a lot easier than I thought. But it was an amazing moment and I say to everybody, I’d encourage everybody to learn how to code something. Because it’s fun and there’s a child-like joy that comes from writing something, hitting the button and then having it work. It’s like this magical moment of holy cow! What I did just worked! It’s super fun. So anyways, it was great.

Anna Khan: I’ve been really nice to you and asked you easy questions. One last hard question is that it’s, knock on wood, been an amazing run for both companies.

Sameer Dhokalia: Indeed.

Anna Khan: We’re really proud to be part of this journey with you, but what do you think about now? What are you worried about? The four years have been, I wouldn’t say easy at all, but you’ve done really well. What’s the next chapter?

Sameer Dhokalia: Well, I’d say a couple things that leap to mind on the challenges ahead. I think, one, we had an amazing day one. Day one is day one. We got to make sure that we continue to execute and create an environment where all of our teammates continue to be fired up to be part of this new, combined company because it is different than being part of just SendGrid. We got to keep working on that.

Sameer Dhokalia: I know in my heart that as long as I can convince all of my SendGrid teammates to give it a year, that they’re going to fall in love with this place, this new combined company, because we are going to go build an iconic company. It is so clear to me that that is what the opportunity is in front of us, that a year in that will become obvious and they will want to be part of laying those bricks, every bit as much as what we’ve done already. That’s one, just continue to stay focused on the people and adopting the new culture, because we’ve literally created a new culture that we’re all adopting together. It’s not actually one or the other.

Sameer Dhokalia: Again, an example of Jeff’s leadership, it’s actually a new set that both companies are now adopting together, and that’s how you create one team and one culture. Then there’s just the execution of, gosh, we did this big acquisition, big transaction. Shareholders are going to expect us to create a lot of value. That whole point of we can do things together, to do things together that we couldn’t stand-alone we actually got to go do all that hard work. I think we can go build a single, unified communication platform that can transform the way every company on the planet engages with their end users. That’s huge, and that’s exciting and I think every company on the planet needs that. We got to hustle. We got to get to work. There’s a lot to do.

Anna Khan: Awesome. Well thank you guys for staying over. I know we went a few minutes over but we’re exited to be part of SendGrid Twilio now.

Sameer Dhokalia: Yes.

Anna Khan: Thank you for hearing our story.

Speaker 4: Great!

Sameer Dhokalia: Thank you. Thanks, Anna.

Anna Khan: Yeah.

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