A little over a year ago, cloud communications company Twilio launched Short Codes, dedicated 5 or 6 digit numbers for sending and receiving text messages at volume. Since then, Twilio has become the fastest-growing short code provider and has found surprisingly differing uses for its product.
“People have started using our Short Code product in ways we didn’t ever expect,” Patrick Malatack, the product manager in charge of Short Codes, tells me.
Malatack says they have seen “dramatic adoption” of the product, as hundreds of Short Codes have been registered in the past year. While hundreds of phone numbers in a year would not be a significant sum, Malatack explains that most companies only have one short code, so the number represents their number of clients. Twilio would not release exact numbers, but said that only a few thousand Short Codes exist, so hundreds is a significant chunk of the market.
Twilio clients include WalMart, which offers special daily discounts to customers vai text messages that they can redeem for a limited time, and the City of Philadelphia, where the police use Short Codes to enable residents to send crime tips vai SMS. Twilio says that since its launch in April, Philadelphians have made texting with Twilio the fastest growing avenue for crime tips.
While mobile short codes have been around for almost a decade, there are only a few thousand in the US. Twilio’s main competitor, mBlox, has been in the space for a while, but Malatack says Twilio differentiates itself by trying to “democratize communication” and make Short Codes available to everyone from major corporations to “two guys in a garage” startups.
Members of Malatack’s team thought they would see Short Codes used more for coupons and marketing when they launched, but they’ve seen it adopted much more widely by enterprise (for things like two factor authentication) than they expected.
Malatack says the company is now focused on expanding internationally, as many startups have international customers from day one. He adds that the company thinks it should be as easy to send a text message or make a phone call from country to country as it is to send an international email.