Jeff Lawson






Entrepreneur, philanthropist

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Jeff Lawson is a left-of center American entrepreneur, billionaire, and philanthropist notable for founding Twilio, a digital communication support services company.


In middle school, Jeff Lawson began one of his first businesses, making and editing videos of bar mitzvahs, which reportedly generated around $5,000 of income by the time he graduated from high school. 1 Later, while an undergraduate, Lawson took hiatuses totaling four years from his undergraduate program to pursue various entrepreneurial ventures. For instance, he founded,  a cold storage data company, in August 1998; in April 2000, StubHub, a ticket resale company; and in September 2000, Nine Star, a multi-channel retailer of skate, surf, and snow sporting equipment. 2

After finishing his undergraduate program, Lawson was employed at Amazon and worked on the development of the Amazon Web Services platform, which offers digital infrastructure services to websites. 3


In 2008, Lawson left Amazon and cofounded Twilio with Evan Cooke John Wolthius in San Francisco. Largely, the company develops and provides programmable communication tools for making and receiving phone calls, texts, and other forms of communications. 4

On June 23 2016, the company filed for its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange under the name, TWLO. 5  Notable companies which use Twilio to support their own platforms include the rental company Airbnb, which uses the service to support an in-app text message system, as well as the streaming service, Hulu, which uses the service to support a call center. 6


On April 28 2019, Jeff Lawson and his wife Erica made a pledge in association with the Giving Pledge, a philanthropic campaign led by billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to encourage wealthy individuals to give away a majority of their wealth over the course of their lifetimes. In the letter accompanying their pledge the couple cite their alignment with Enlightenment ideals, make a lengthy acknowledgement of their “privilege” (though also noting their joint descent from refugees), and express their admiration for the philanthropic work of Freada and Mitch Kapor; Ron and Gayle Conway; Lynn and Marc Benioff; and Melinda and Bill Gates. 7

Three days after an announcement of a 68 percent rise in its third quarter earnings on November 6, 2018, Lawson announced that Twilio would be making a $1 million commitment to assist the homeless in San Francisco, California, through, the company’s charitable arm. 8  Organizations supported by through its “Impact Fund” include Trans Lifeline, a transgender issues and support organization; Thorn, an organization which develops technology intended to stymie the sexual abuse of children; the Steve Fund, a mental health campus-focused organization intended to assist minority students; Refugees United (also styled REFUNITE), a refugee assistance organization; and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, an organization which helps parents with drug-addicted children. 9


  1. Wang, Jennifer. “Twilio Cofounder Jeff Lawson a New Billionaire as Company Stock Jumps 66% in 2019.” Forbes. July 9, 2019. Accessed September 5, 2022.

  2. “Jeff Lawson.” Golden. Accessed September 5, 2022.
  3. Task, Aaron. “Here’s What Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson Learned at” Fortune. August 29, 2016. Accessed September 5, 2022.
  4. Rao, Leena. “Twilio Raises $3.7 Million for Powerful Telephony API.” TechCrunch. December 30, 2009. Accessed September 5, 2022.
  5. Driebusch, Corrie; Farrell, Maureen. “Twilio’s Shares Jump 92% in Trading Debut”. The Wall Street Journal. June 23, 2016. Accessed September 5, 2022.
  6. “Jeff Lawson.” Forbes. 2022. Accessed September 5, 2022.
  7. “Erica and Jeff Lawson.” The Giving Pledge. April 28, 2019. Accessed September 5, 2022.
  8. Captain, Sean. “This Tech CEO is Offering a $1 Million Donation to Inspire Tech Companies to Help Fight Homelessness.” Fast Company. November 12, 2018. Accessed September 5, 2022.
  9. “Who We Have Funded So Far.” Accessed September 5, 2022.
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