Twilio lays off 5% of employees in unit activists want to divest

Jeff Lawson, chief executive officer of Twilio Inc., during the Singapore FinTech Festival in Singapore, on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023.

Lionel Ng | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Software provider Twilio said Monday it would lay off roughly 5% of its workforce, or around 400 employees, citing underachievement in the growth of a unit that activist investors have targeted.

Shares of Twilio were flat on the news. The company expects to take restructuring charges ranging from $25 to $35 million, but reaffirmed its guidance for the upcoming fourth quarter and the full year.

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 & Applications unit, the same unit activist investors at Legion Partners and Anson Funds are pushing Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson to divest. A spokesperson for Legion Partners declined to comment.

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 & applications group. “Unfortunately, that bet hasn’t led to the growth outcome we’d hoped for.”

Anson and Legion have pushed Twilio to sell the Data & 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 cut 17% of its workforce, or about 15% of its employees, in February.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Originally posted 2023-12-04 15:12:56.