Company to cut 5% of employees

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Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio, during the Singapore FinTech Festival in Singapore on Nov. 17, 2023.

Lionel Ng | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Software provider Twilio said Monday it would lay off roughly 5% of its workforce citing underachievement in the growth of a unit that activist investors have targeted.

Shares closed up a little more than 1% Monday. The company expects to take restructuring charges ranging between $25 million and $35 million. It reaffirmed its guidance for the upcoming fourth quarter and the full year. The cuts will affect about 300 employees, based on Twilio’s headcount in its recent regulatory filings.

According to a letter from CEO Jeff Lawson attached to a regulatory filing, the cuts are part of a broader plan to streamline Twilio’s offerings. The company is also sunsetting its Programmable Video product as part of the plan.

The cuts will strike deepest in Twilio’s Data and Applications unit, the same unit activist investors at Legion Partners and Anson Funds are pushing Lawson to divest. A spokesperson for Anson Funds declined to comment.

Twilio has now executed three rounds of layoffs in slightly more than a year. Twilio cut 17% of its workforce, or about 15% of its employees, in February. Still, Legion believes the company can cut more jobs, a person familiar with the fund’s position told CNBC.

A Twilio spokesperson declined to comment on shareholder input in the restructuring plan, which the company called the “December Plan” in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Lawson said in his letter that Twilio will also change how it sells its Flex digital engagement product. The layoffs will eliminate “many” Flex sales positions and fold those responsibilities into the existing Communications sales team, Lawson said.

“Last year, we made the decision to invest, ahead of growth, in go-to-market for Segment,” Lawson said in a letter to staff, referring to a Twilio offering that is part of its Data and Applications group. “Unfortunately, that bet hasn’t led to the growth outcome we’d hoped for.”

Twilio acquired Segment in a $3.2 billion, all-stock deal in 2020.

Anson and Legion have pushed Twilio to sell the Data and Applications unit, if not the whole company. Anson and Legion have both amassed individual stakes of around $50 million, according to people familiar with the matter and regulatory filings.

The activists are also reportedly pushing for management changes at the company.

Twilio makes software that helps businesses contact customers. The company has also built or acquired tools that help those businesses analyze and improve their customer relationships. It was founded in 2008 and went public under Lawson’s leadership in 2016.

The company’s share price remains well off 2021 highs, when it soared with the broader tech industry. Twilio stock is up about 36% year to date.

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