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With Scott Orn

A Startup Podcast by Kruze Consulting

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Scott Orn

Scott Orn, CFA

Brian Mullen of Twilio

Posted on: 08/19/2016

Brian Mullen

Brian Mullen

VP Global Connectivity & Mobility - Twilio

Brian Mullen of Twilio - Podcast Summary

Brian Mullen of Twilio was the company’s first business hire. He’s a Business Development guru. In this episode he talks about what attracted him to Twilio, how the company’s focus on developers paid off and he even manages to sneak in a few comments about Oakland and his Cal Bears.

Brian Mullen of Twilio - Podcast Transcript

Scott Orn: Welcome back to Founders and Friends Podcast with Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting. We’re doing our best-of series here as we rebrand the podcast and also bring it all over to KruzeConsulting.com. This episode is with Brian Mullen of Twilio. Brian’s the first business hire at Twilio and they are having a humongous IPO. The company is superhot and it’s kind of fun to reflect back on what he was talking about, about 6 months ago. So, great company, great [inaudible 00:00:26] Brian Mullen. He really built a lot of the infrastructure and a lot of business development at Twilio. I hope you enjoy. Welcome to The 1 California Podcast with Brian Mullen of Twilio today. Welcome Brian.
Brian Mullen: Nice to be here. Thanks for having me.
Scott Orn: You can loosen up a little bit.
Brian Mullen: Let me just undo my tie here. Take my suit off.
Scott Orn: So Brian is … we were just talking. I’m going to start just hitting record when people show up at the studio here because we always cover so much good stuff. I just found out Brian is actually the first business hire at Twilio.
Brian Mullen: Yeah pretty early days I joined when we were about 30 people. So way back many grey hairs ago in January 2011 and we’d just done our Series B and just first BD hire at Twilio.
Scott Orn: Well you still have your hair. It’s not super grey. You’re in a good position. Especially compared to me. So tell me … this is super exciting because Twilio, we were just talking kind of offmic that Twilio was like the first company to really go after developers as like a business model. Like tell me what caught your attention about Twilio? Like why did you join?
Brian Mullen: So at the time, I was actually working down in Los Angeles. I did some time about 5 years or so in Los Angeles.
Scott Orn: Not in jail. Not in jail.
Brian Mullen: Yeah. Exactly. Probably the last person of all my family and friends who thought would move to LA but did that for a job and was ended up being down there where I thought it was going to be about a year or two was 5 years and so my wife and I just had our first kid. He’s five now. So this was like late 2010. We’re looking to move back and had just moved back. I was ready to leave my other job and so I was at a kind of wholesale telecommunication company, a 4G carrier called Clearwire and anyway, I was looking around at jobs and I stumbled across Twilio. Twilio is actually the first job I’ve ever had where I didn’t know somebody.
Scott Orn: Oh wow. They just hired you cold?
Brian Mullen: And I kind of sought them out once I realized what they were doing and it was kind of really solving from the software perspective, solving a lot of kind of problems for people that are looking to do communication and at Clearwire, we had actually spent a couple of million dollars trying to solve this kind of problem that I realized looking at Twilio if we knew about them, we probably could’ve done the whole thing for about 50 grand and done it in about two weeks. And so got in touch with them and was pretty interested to get the conversation going.
Scott Orn: That’s awesome. So what was it like being like the first business hire? Was that like trippy? Did they shun you? Or was it okay?
Brian Mullen: I definitely was … I had some grey hairs at the time. So I kind of immediately gravitated to two of the other guys in this 30-person company that had kids and were kind of the old guard. But it was good. I think the timing is right. I mean I’ve always felt like with the role like business development, you kind of have to pick the right time to come into a company I think. Sometimes if you’re a bit too early, the product’s not really ready then there’s not a whole lot you can do to really be effective and then conversely on the other end sometimes coming in a bit too late, it’s a little bit too mature. Maybe there’s less room. There’s already a formula. So Twilio was … Series B, had just completed a Series B in 2010. Had about at that time which seemed huge was 20,000 developers. We’re now at like 800,000 or something like that.
Scott Orn: Oh my God. 800,000?
Brian Mullen: 800,000.
Scott Orn: Oh my God.
Brian Mullen: Yeah. So back then …
Scott Orn: That’s got to be like second to Apple or something like that, right?
Brian Mullen: I don’t know. It’s large. It’s definitely large. And it’s been growing steadily since then. People just flock to the platform. But yeah. I think we had a paying … one of the things that drew me to the company in the very beginning was here was a service, relatively small company. And unlike a lot of kind of popular Silicon Valley stories, here’s this company that had a product that people have been paying for from Day 1.
Scott Orn: That’s an awesome point.
Brian Mullen: There’s value associated with it. There was revenue. However small, people were expecting to pay for the service. It really like gave people a lot of value.
Scott Orn: It was also like I remember talking to you like 2011 probably and I think you made it a point to me where it’s like usage-based pricing which is the way to do it but it was like you could see a few of these blow up. You have massive amounts of usage and there’s going to be really big customers and really powerful revenue. That was a nice epiphany or insight you had there.
Brian Mullen: Yeah. Yeah. I mean it was … I can’t take credit for that. I mean that was kind of the founders of the company realized that and when you have a software development platform like Twilio, I mean really what we do is we have a development platform API’s for developers to build communication, voice or messaging.
Scott Orn: Maybe explain what an API is for the non-technical …
Brian Mullen: Yes. So let me get my Wikipedia hat on. But really what an API is, it’s an application programming interface. It allows people from their application in their building to basically kind of control some other aspect of the application. So in this case, what we’re doing is we’re taking this world of telecommunication, of voice calls. I mean really like a point-to-point phone call from one phone to another. It’s basically been doing the same thing since Alexander Graham Bell invented it, right?
Scott Orn: Yeah.
Brian Mullen: It’s point-to-point single calling. It’s like the dumbest thing ever. Still, when we call each other on our iPhones, that basic component is still just the same fundamental principle that Alexander Graham Bell was doing way back in the day. And so what Twilio is doing is allowing that to be programmable. So we basically take the phone calls or the message flow into our platform based on the Cloud, we’re based on Amazon. And then provide API’s, tools for developers to basically tell us what to do with the call. So all of a sudden you have this kind of very very basic thing, a phone call which hasn’t changed for a hundred years that is now able to kind of take in all the intelligence that some application can apply to. So it’s pretty amazing.
Scott Orn: And it’s like people, developers can do a lot of interesting things with it. So like I think Uber is one of your clients right? Like getting those notifications from Uber that the car’s getting close? That’s all because Uber use the Twilio application to tell me that stuff.
Brian Mullen: Right. So yeah if you go to our website, I mean there’s about 500 mentions of Uber and all the various Twilio things. It’s quite a showcase.
Scott Orn: I’m surprised you didn’t downplay that one. I don’t know if that company is going to make it.
Brian Mullen: But you know, the reason we talked about it so much, Airbnb is another one, is that these are services that are so widely used. Kind of like you know, really when you think about explaining Twilio, what we always say is chances are you’d probably used Twilio in some way, shape or form but didn’t maybe … didn’t realize it. So in the Uber example, what they do is they provision a phone number for the duration of your ride. So Scott’s my driver. He’s coming to pick me up. I’ve summoned him through the Uber application and he’s taking a long time, so I hit call and I say, “Hey, Scott. Where are you?” And so that whole interaction, that communication is handled by Twilio. Uber is a customer of ours and they use our API to basically match the driver and the rider with his calling or messaging mechanism.
Scott Orn: And that’s why it’s always a different number right? It’s like you know, it’s also kind of probably a safety thing too.
Brian Mullen: Safety.
Scott Orn: From not harassing the Uber driver who cancelled my ride five minutes into it. They’re the worst.
Brian Mullen: Yeah exactly. Yeah safety. I mean you get into these other megacities if you’re cruising around in Johannesburg or Jakarta or something like that. Their safety is a big deal.
Scott Orn: Oh it’s global too?
Brian Mullen: Yeah. And there are 170 cities worldwide and so when we think about our platform, much the same way that something like Skype or Google Voice has to work around the world. Twilio under the hood has to go and have all these connections and make sure that the connectivity part of it works. That’s largely my job. I have a team of folks around the team that does that too. And so our job is to go and make sure that our product basically works in India, in China, in France.
Scott Orn: Are you like calling on those Telco’s and just like …
Brian Mullen: A lot of Telco meetings.
Scott Orn: You probably do have a suit and tie on.
Brian Mullen: Yeah. In the bottom of my bag. Definitely.
Scott Orn: What do you do? You’re like, “Hey, this is kind of the future. Maybe you should use this?” Or is it …
Brian Mullen: Oh it’s interesting.
Scott Orn: You guys are driving a lot usage probably. So they probably like you.
Brian Mullen: Yeah they do and I think their perception is like when you read Tech Crunch and kind of the more technology-focused publications, they’re talking about Twilio as being a disruption of this industry. Which is true to a certain extent but we’re not like putting on vest and putting up radio towers. We’re a software company. And so we very much rely on all the global telecom partners in order to deliver that connectivity. So we’re very much like dependent on them.
Scott Orn: They’re CapEx right? They’re investing a ton of money in those towers and you get to …
Brian Mullen: Yeah. So what we’re trying to do is provide an interface for a new set of applications interactions to work on top of that and it’s a little bit different. I mean you walk in a Vodaphone if you’re Skype or Facebook and like hey, we want to connect with you. Direct connect. They’re like, why the hell should I do that? I mean you’re just going to slowly siphon away all my users. And so with Twilio, we go in and it’s a very different conversation. That conversation is, look, we have these major brands, these banks and airlines and startups as well that are building new interactions. This is net new traffic, net new communication that’s occurring and we have an opportunity to hook it into your network. So for them it’s like one is net new … an area of growth in an area in an industry that’s not growing. And then the other is a little bit of this like air of inevitability. It’s kind of like, it’s going to happen anyway. So do we want to …
Scott Orn: We might as well make some money on it. But you know, you and I are old enough. We’re in our late 30’s. We went to college together by the way. Go Bears.
Brian Mullen: Yup.
Scott Orn: I’m sure we’ll have a segment on that later in the podcast but you and I are old enough to remember when the Telco guys controlled everything and if you were like going to build a new application, you have to like go meet with Verizon or AT&T and like beg them. Wasn’t it like being on deck or something like that?
Brian Mullen: Yeah. I did both sides of that. Early days, like my first company that I worked for that was building mobile applications was in 2003. And so we did the … this company, we did location-based services and 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, all those years were supposed to be the year of location. So I guess we were about 7 to 10 years early. But anyway, that was the way you did it. My job was to go out and just “distribute” and get carriage on Verizon’s deck and …
Scott Orn: Pay them a lot of money and they go super slow.
Brian Mullen: Name out there.
Scott Orn: I remember that because I was like working in venture capital and like we would see the burn rates of these companies that were trying to get on deck and work with the carriers and like nothing would happen for like five months. And we’re like, oh, that’s a $5 million that just got flushed down the toilet because the company couldn’t get any traction because the carriers were so slow.
Brian Mullen: And then you’re also beholden to some kind of middle manager who’s like managing the deck. And then when I went to Los Angeles, I joined a company that was an MVNO at the time. This company called Amp’d which is another set of beers and podcast later.
Scott Orn: MVNO is like what? A virtual mobile operator or something? It ran someone else’s network?
Brian Mullen: It’s like boost your mobile. They essentially wholesale someone else’s network and …
Scott Orn: I think if I remember correctly, you can do a ‘no comment’ on that. That company burned a little bit of cash.
Brian Mullen: 370.
Scott Orn: That’s in millions folks. That’s the budget of San Francisco for two years.
Brian Mullen: Spectacular rise and fall. Anyone that remembers that is like, you’re in Amp’d? What really happened there?
Scott Orn: I just got really big when you said that.
Brian Mullen: But anyway …
Scott Orn: The food was just amazing right? The company food.
Brian Mullen: We had this like … this really really kind of a flamboyant like news-making CEO who would just … he was a crazy person. He flew around on a helicopter. People thought that that was all on the company’s dime. It wasn’t but it all just kind of made for a messy messy ending.
Scott Orn: Not a very disciplined company probably.
Brian Mullen: No. But my job there was to run all the content. And so to your point about being on deck, that play that Amp’d had was really focused on digital content, media and that’s pre-iPhone, pre-Android. So what we’re doing was all this kind of 3G video and games on your phone and I was the guy who had to like go and do all these deals with these developers.
Scott Orn: Do you like wake up some days and be like, “Thank you Steve Jobs. Thank you Apple.” It kind of like iPhone really changed your world.
Brian Mullen: Yeah totally.
Scott Orn: Did you recognize it when it happened or were you just like oh this is interesting. What was your thought?
Brian Mullen: Yeah. I mean it was … I remember the iPhone came out June the same month that Amp’d went into Chapter 11. It’s like this amazing juxtaposition. It’s like okay, it is literally happening. The end of one era and the beginning of another at the same time. So yeah it was pretty amazing.
Scott Orn: That’s amazing man. Just going back because a lot of times people email me actually and they want to know more about the business models of the companies we’re talking about. So you guys charge like based on I don’t even know. You don’t have to give any secret information out here but like a half a penny per phone call or something. Something, some tiny number, some tiny dollar amount for every phone call but there’s just so many phone calls happening over the Twilio network that you make money basically.
Brian Mullen: Yeah. And it’s a usage-based model and it could be, what’s really interesting I think the success in terms of developer community is that the same product and the same business model applies for the two guys in the garage building their startup and they may be customers and they might spend $30 a month with us as Uber or some big customers spending you know, hundreds of thousands or millions, right? And so the way that people consume the product is they use our API’s and each application, it may be a different mix. It has fundamentally what the platform can do is allows you from an application to provision a phone number. One phone number, 10,000 numbers. Make or receive a voice call, send or receive a text message and whatever kind of mix of usage you have, you pay for. So you have some price per number, per month and then you know, some price per minute and per text message. And then you know, each customer essentially kind of paying for whatever they use in that month.
Scott Orn: It feels like a very network effect business. Is that how you guys think about it? Like if we get all the … maybe talk about this a little bit. My very simple way of thinking is like if we get most of the developers, it becomes like the tractor beam for the rest of the developers because we can offer the best deal and everyone’s already riding for and our tools are the best. Is that like how you guys think about it?
Brian Mullen: Yeah. In terms of creating a good call structure and passing on that value to the consumers, a lot of that has to do with volume and growth and the more kind of customers you have obviously, the better. The more flexibility you have there. But I think focus is also an important thing. So early on, when people weren’t fully aware of like what Twilio was doing, it just was thought to be developer tools. And really what we’ve always done is maintain that we are a communications company. And so we’re not doing location API’s, we’re not doing billing API’s. We are completely focused on being the set of tools for developers to use communication in their applications and services.
Scott Orn: Location, it seems like it’s such a … makes so much sense. Was it just there’s no money in it?
Brian Mullen: Another part of the developer experience is you have to really try to make it as uniform a developer experience as possible. And telecom is kind of a funky thing. It requires a lot of specialization around the world like to go make it work in Vietnam and UK and Spain or wherever. There’s a lot of work. Guys like on my team that are putting those deals in place. But location is just even more fragmented. It just doesn’t work broadly.
Scott Orn: Yeah. That makes sense because the Telco world is so old school, right? It’s probably international. Maybe international is more modern than the United States. I don’t know. Is it?
Brian Mullen: Yeah. I mean it’s just you have, they’re kind of controlled by in some cases they have restrictions on their geography, maybe there are some sort of like regulatory restriction there. It’s a lot of variables and so that’s part of the value that we provide to customers is going out and solving those problems so they don’t have to think about it.
Scott Orn: So when you joined Twilio, was there like a moment where you’re like, like you’re working there and you’re like, oh, this is going to work. Like the epiphany moment? Like I had that with Ben’s Friends. I was telling the story there today where I saw a young woman who had a surgery coming up and she was really nervous, couldn’t sleep at two in the morning and then a woman in Australia before I could even do anything comforted her. It was like a really amazing moment and this happened like seven years ago. And I was like, oh this is totally going to work. Do you remember that moment for you?
Brian Mullen: For me we’ve had a few of these Twilio conferences now for a couple of years. The first one we did was in 2011. It was held at the Bentley Reserve here in San Francisco. It was like 500 people.
Scott Orn: That’s classy.
Brian Mullen: Yeah. Yeah. Very classy. And since we’ve done it, it’s become this big thing with 2,500 attendees but that first year we did it, none of us really knew what to expect and these people came from around the world to kind of talk Twilio, talk about ideas, kind of see what’s coming.
Scott Orn: All the people who’ve been using it …
Brian Mullen: And so for the first time, I mean I was like, seven, eight months into the job, I saw firsthand all in one location just like this real real amazing connection between the developers and the company. And you realize like the approach … I mean what Twilio does is it takes the world of communication and conforms it to the developer versus making the developer kind of learn all these arcane telecom technologies. And so if you’re building in Ruby or Python or DotNET, whatever, you have the full set of kind of call control, the Twilio capability in your language. So the idea is like, it’s not that people weren’t using communication, I mean they would use something else for communication is that they wouldn’t do anything at all. So all of a sudden you have the ability to add communication to your customer experience whether you’re like …
Scott Orn: That’s such an awesome point because like it was just … it was a breadth of that before. Now it’s like such a better experience for the consumers too and then like, this really positive cycle where everything gets better.
Brian Mullen: Right. Right. There was thing with Airbnb, you might remember a couple of years ago, they had kind of the first major public incident where somebody trashed somebody’s house on Airbnb.
Scott Orn: And I think was it some guy who wrote about it? Was it in New York and someone threw a rave or an orgy or something like that?
Brian Mullen: Some insane party at somebody’s apartment in New York. So they went into this like whole PR fire drill and they were a customer but using us for a couple of kind of lesser known features and what they did was actually add in the ability to communicate with the guest and the host.
Scott Orn: Oh wow.
Brian Mullen: So that actually was … and they built that using Twilio.
Scott Orn: I’m surprised … yeah.
Brian Mullen: So that was derived from here’s … they’re trying to establish trust in the same way that people think about they trust people on eBay for example. So a core principle of trust is the ability to communicate with them. And so Twilio being able to kind of be inserted into that and used for that was pretty neat.
Scott Orn: There’s two things about that, the first is being able to communicate in general but there’s also something about hearing another human being’s voice and like our little smell check whatever the verbal part of that is. You’re like, oh, this person doesn’t mean me harm or this person isn’t as mad as I think they might be. That’s super powerful. It’s like a primordial thing.
Brian Mullen: Yeah. It does bring down barriers. It does. It allows something else to occur just because you have that voice or even text is the same thing like you’re texting with what you perceive to be another kind of person on the other end of it. It’s not some … you’re not just entering blindly in some website.
Scott Orn: It makes you realize there’s another person. You said something earlier, this is the part of the off-mic stuff where you’re like, we were talking about Twilio and you had a really awesome observation. Basically you’re saying like we see basically all these companies. We see the ones that are really taking off. And it’s an amazing feeling to be working in Twilio. But you had a great observation about what that does to Twilio employee-base and what that means for the future. Do you mind talking about that?
Brian Mullen: Yeah sure. So I mean when you’re a platform and a really broad one with a lot of use, you have this like incredibly broad set of customers and use-cases and problems that they’re trying to solve.
Scott Orn: We see this at Kruze Consulting too. It’s like, we have a portfolio of 165 clients now. I know like the hottest stuff. I know those companies. It’s amazing.
Brian Mullen: Yeah. It just kind of passes through the platform right in front of you. So it’s pretty interesting and the employees at Twilio which is now about 500 or so, really pay close attention to that. And so I think what will probably happen is like there’s an incredible group of smart talented people already and then on top of that, they’re exposed to all these different problems that people are out there trying to solve that maybe they didn’t know about. And so it just really gets kind of the creative juices flowing I think and at some point in the future there will be like a pretty wide array I think of pretty interesting startups and new businesses started by people that had some connection to Twilio.
Scott Orn: You were saying it’s like the equivalent of the PayPal Mafia. In tax circles, that’s like all the people who worked at PayPal early on, they all ended up, not all of them but most of them ended up starting like amazing companies and my reply to you was like it’s cool they’re seeing all these different ideas but they’re also seeing them be successful or some of them be successful. And so you lose your fear. You’re like, oh I can … if that dumbass can make this work, I can do it.
Brian Mullen: Yeah there’s a respect among people back and forth but they’re also … it also kind of makes it more accessible. It feels more real.
Scott Orn: You’re behind the cloak or whatever.
Brian Mullen: Yeah. Behind the curtain. There’s another thing too about … I think about Twilio too in a platform company particularly one that has like a kind of technical product like ours is people ask us a lot about like there’s this terrific employee culture at Twilio and how have you guys kept that? Our founder, our CEO, Jeff really cares a lot about culture of the company and employees and kind of keeping that. It’s been amazing from my perspective like I just expected that when we got up to some 300-400 people the culture would change but it hasn’t which is amazing.
Scott Orn: That’s impressive.
Brian Mullen: I certainly did not foresee that coming. But then as I think about it, you have this group of 500 people and probably two thirds of them are in some technical job. They’re an engineer. They’re PM. They’re technical support. Sales engineer. Whatever. It’s like this huge percentage of the company is effectively the same as our customer. There’s this connection between the people that are like working on a product or selling it or marketing it or whatever, there’s a connection between them and the actual customer. They are the same people. They have the same profile.
Scott Orn: And you talked earlier about how the company waited a long time before hiring you, the first business hire. So there wasn’t like the sales and marketing guys to get in there and like mess things up basically.
Brian Mullen: Yeah.
Scott Orn: I talk about this a lot with the companies we work with like solidify your culture and a lot of companies come to us with this really hardcore like bootstrap culture which I love and I always tell them like you raised a bunch of money now but don’t lose that. That culture is gold. That’s like your competitive advantage actually.
Brian Mullen: Yeah it is. And the connection to the developer community is the thing that got Twilio really started and that’s the thing that continues to make it a success today. It’s thinking about the developer first, caring about them, helping them solve whatever problem’s in front of them.
Scott Orn: What’s your … so this is transition … what are you excited about in the future for both Twilio and you? Like what gets you out of bed in the morning now?
Brian Mullen: I get really charged up on entering new markets. So a lot of what I do is my team being kind of an international business development team. We tend to be the kind of first boots on the ground in a lot of new countries. So last week I was in South America. Did like four cities in five days. Tripped down there. Next week I’m going to Asia including India. So I love going and kind of creating and helping enter new markets. And that requires some set of connectivity deals to get our product up and running. Identifying some key distributors or partners and then some customers as well. So it’s pretty cool.
Scott Orn: I love the boots on the ground analogy because there’s something we said for like you’re creating like that task force mentality on your team. That’s good management.
Brian Mullen: Yeah and then once we get in there, we have like … we get the product up and running. We’re closely with our ops and product team. We get a couple of anchor customers and then we get kind of our … what is the kind of market positioning for us. It might be different in Brazil than it is in Japan, right? Once we kind of have that set for a given country, then we can bring the, to continue the analogy, bring the troops in. We bring in sales and marketing and spin up a kind of repeated effort.
Scott Orn: A lot of awkward-looking, nerdy troops.
Brian Mullen: Track jacket wearing troops.
Scott Orn: Dude this is awesome. So let me … so I always at the end of the podcast, I always ask five questions. We’ll get to that in one second but I want to give you a platform to talk about your beloved Golden Bears. In 30 seconds, how does five … I’m going to try to get this around before this weekend hopefully. So then we can still say we’re 5-0. How does it feel?
Brian Mullen: When I … it feels good. It feels good. But I’m reluctant. My Dad went to Berkeley. My brother did. So we’re like all blues and when I was 18, I just finished high school. I was accepted into Cal and my Dad like sat me down and he was like, Brian, I just want to welcome you to a lifetime of heartbreak.
Scott Orn: He wasn’t lying.
Brian Mullen: He was not lying. So there’s this kind of like beaten up like abused over time feeling like I think Cal fans have. Hopefully we can make it through this weekend in Salt Lake City.
Scott Orn: Yeah. Oh God. This is a big one. Cool man. This is some really good podcast. Thank you so much. So I was in 5 questions. First one, what’s your favorite e-commerce site? And these are short answers. I like asking these questions because it gives you a chance to be who you are.
Brian Mullen: Alright, embarrassingly, Zappos. I mean we have two kids. I buy them little tiny kids’ Pumas all the time. I buy shoes for myself and then I usually will get something for my wife because I don’t want to have stuff show up that doesn’t have a gift for her in it. So I’m embarrassingly addicted to Zappos. I have bought shoes on the Zappos mobile app on BART which is embarrassing.
Scott Orn: Three hours kind of thing?
Brian Mullen: Yeah.
Scott Orn: Do they get the Amazon ship?
Brian Mullen: They do. We always have. This morning I walked out and there’s two Zappos boxes. We always have inflight two or three boxes that are like awaiting return. I got a text from my wife right now. She was like, just return the Zappos.
Scott Orn: Do you use that SHYP app? Because Vanessa my fiancé and head of Kruze Consulting, she indulges in some … she buys things in e-commerce and we use that SHYP app all the time. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Brian Mullen: No.
Scott Orn: S-H-Y-P.
Brian Mullen: S-H-Y-P. It’s like they come and pick it up, right?
Scott Orn: It costs you $5 and then whatever the … when you buy something on Zappos or something like that, it’s free. So it’s $5. You don’t have to go down in the post office. It’s like one of the greatest inventions ever. It’s amazing. What’s your favorite content site?
Brian Mullen: Content site. I basically use Twitter as a link to all the stuff that I care about. So I follow a lot of journalists. I follow stand-up comics too. But I’m probably … I love the inside coverage of the teams I care about. So I probably read the most, Tim Kawakami who’s like in San Jose Mercury News but he’s like a local reporter.
Scott Orn: He’s feisty.
Brian Mullen: Yeah. He’s just a rabble-rouser. But I read him. He gets pretty good inside scoop on all the teams I care about.
Scott Orn: Favorite Spotify playlist?
Brian Mullen: I’m Pandora.
Scott Orn: Sorry. East Bay. East Bay love.
Brian Mullen: Yeah excuse me. East Bay represent. So I ran my high school reunion this summer. 20th Reunion Class of ’95.
Scott Orn: Mine’s in two weeks.
Brian Mullen: Oh nice.
Scott Orn: Yeah.
Brian Mullen: And I created a 1994-1995 playlist which I’ve since been listening to quite a bit. My kids are into. They’re like listening to Cypress Hill.
Scott Orn: Oh that’s awesome.
Brian Mullen: So they’re like, play Insane in the Brain. So my kids are going to school having listened to like and another one was like, there is an R. Kelly song on that and my kids like, he’s like, hey Daddy, freakin’ and weakin’ rhyme. They’ll be like taking these lyrics to school.
Scott Orn: You’re like, don’t read too much of the lyrics son.
Brian Mullen: My wife’s from Oakland so she’s pretty big into all the old E-40 and East Bay hip hop.
Scott Orn: If you send me the link to your station, I will put that on the podcast link. Everyone can listen to Brian Mullen’s 1994-1995 hip hop. Fourth question was, what do you indulge with? What’s your vice?
Brian Mullen: So my wife’s family has … which has become my tradition too, is Manhattans. So brandy Manhattans. And every time … we call them Mannies. Every time people come over, everyone has one or two Mannies before they start the night. So that’s kind of famous drink. We have pre-mades. So somebody will bring over the premade Manhattans. Throw a lemon in and piece of ice and it’s great.
Scott Orn: I love a Manhattan. I got a little crazy in the Don Draper craze two years ago and I aggressively ordered two or three in one night at a restaurant and I had the worst hangover of all time.
Brian Mullen: Try the brandy Manhattan. It’s better.
Scott Orn: That’s a good tip. I also realized I’m not Don Draper. I’m not that cool.
Brian Mullen: Stay away from the old-fashions.
Scott Orn: Maybe that’s the old-fashions. Not Manhattans.
Brian Mullen: That’s the Don Draper.
Scott Orn: That’s what it was. It was old-fashion.
Brian Mullen: Old-fashions.
Scott Orn: Yeah.
Brian Mullen: Those will kill you in the morning.
Scott Orn: It killed me. It killed me.
Brian Mullen: Yeah.
Scott Orn: Last question, what’s the company you admire?
Brian Mullen: Like a big one?
Scott Orn: Whatever you want man.
Brian Mullen: Maybe a year ago, I was with one of our sales guys and we went down. So my answer is probably Tesla. My reason for saying that is one day, I went through some sales calls with him and it was like traveling through time of Silicon Valley. So the morning meeting was with eBay and then the midday meeting was with LinkedIn and then the late afternoon meeting was with Tesla.
Scott Orn: You met like …
Brian Mullen: So it’s like …
Scott Orn: Three big companies.
Brian Mullen: And this was like in 2014 and just, you see the evolution of where these companies are and kind of the comparison of tesla who’s an example of really kind of the new way of doing things. I mean they’re a car company and they’re basically a software company. The vibe in walking into this car company was so similar to our own company. It was shocking.
Scott Orn: That’s a great observation. That’s really cool.
Brian Mullen: Yeah and then LinkedIn, terrific company but they’re kind of a little bit more mature and born out of a slightly different generation and then eBay was like the original generation. They’re pretty stale now.
Scott Orn: Yeah. It’s funny … I think I’ve recorded, this is my seventh podcast and four of the people said Tesla.
Brian Mullen: It’s top of mind I guess.
Scott Orn: But I also say the same thing. I always point out like not only did he visualize cars but he visualized batteries and visualized solar because he started SolarCity. Pretty amazing guy. Did you see last night? He started picking a fight with Apple on Twitter?
Brian Mullen: Yes. Picking up our fired engineers.
Scott Orn: I enjoyed Twitter too. I’m not too proud to say that it’s because of these little things like Elon Musk is calling out Apple. He’s got to create a new foil for his company.
Brian Mullen: Yeah. That’s one very underrated aspect of Twitter is it’s allowed us all to kind of go back to seventh grade and do some name-calling. The most important people like world leaders, business leaders are all kind of reverting to seventh grade recess.
Scott Orn: Yeah. I love it. Cool man. This has been really good. Maybe just tell the crew where you can find Twilio, what you guys are about really quickly and we’ll sign off.
Brian Mullen: Yes. So Twilio, you can find us at Twilio.com. For those people that are interested, once a year in the spring, we have a big event called Signal. Open to everyone to come and join and check out. Myself, I’m on Twitter, @btmulls. My full name was taken.
Scott Orn: I follow you.
Brian Mullen: Yeah. Thanks for having me.
Scott Orn: Be cautious following Brian this weekend when Cal’s playing the football game.
Brian Mullen: Yeah. I’ve decided to eliminate Twitter and Instagram and Facebook in the first 36 hours after a Cal loss. So that I won’t say anything I regret.
Scott Orn: On that, we will end it. Thanks for coming on to 1 California, Brian. Appreciate it.
Brian Mullen: Thanks.

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