Ron Huddleston, Former Microsoft 'One Commercial Partner' Leader, Takes The Helm Of Twilio's Channel

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Ron Huddleston, who spent much of last year leading a revamp of Microsoft's channel structure, is planning to tap his experiences working at the world's largest enterprise software vendors to drive growth in the Twilio channel.

"It’s a whole new opportunity for partners, the way I look at it," Huddleston, who started his job at Twilio last week, told CRN of his new employer's technology.

As a company that straddles communications and cloud computing Twilio can welcome into its channel a wide variety of partner types, from resellers and volume-based distributors to "almost every ISV on the planet," he said.

The San Francisco-based company has yet to define and fully engage that spectrum of partners—something Huddleston said he will train his sights on doing as Chief Partners Officer.

"Twilio is so developer-focused," Huddleston told CRN. But the C-level position with an uncommon title will be about "adding a little of that business opportunity layer on top of it. We're building those value propositions as we speak."

Once in charge of the Salesforce AppExchange online marketplace, Huddleston has been reaching out to partners in that ecosystem, all of whom, he believes, can build new practices with Twilio.

"I'm looking at every cloud VAR and ISV I've ever worked with in the past. Almost all of them can do something with communications, do something that connects human beings," Huddleston told CRN.

"Partners that built practices around CRM, it is such an easy jump to how we can further enable customer relationships by helping you connect to your other customers or people anyway you want."

Twilio's products can be leveraged by the channel to drive business in several ways, he said, from integrating communications capabilities into their customers' existing solutions, to reselling the platform.

"We need to make a lot more noise around the business opportunities wrapped into reselling Twilio," he said. 

Huddleston came to Salesforce from Oracle when the CRM giant only had a handful of partners. He played a crucial role in building a partner program there that cultivated one of the world's largest channel ecosystems.

He sees a similar challenge at Twilio.

"Twilio is at the same place that Salesforce was when I first started there 10 years ago," he said. And just like Salesforce had to educate a new market and an ecosystem of partners growing around it, Twilio will do the same in its space. 

"It really comes down to the same things," he said. "Group partners by how they generate revenue, and make sure you have packaging and support and focus for them."

Twilio just made a large investment in its go-to-market efforts, and the partner ecosystem will see much of that funding, he said.

"Over the next few years, partners should be a substantial part of Twilio's growth and revenue. Partners need to be the way that Twilio scales," Huddleston told CRN.

The incentives are already lined up, so now it's just about providing the guidance that helps those partners be successful with the technology, he said.

Huddleston joined Microsoft in June of 2016. The following February he was tasked with leading the newly formed One Commercial Partner program, a sweeping reorganization that consolidated several of Microsoft's partner and services teams,

He spent eight years before that at Salesforce as the channel executive charged with spearheading growth of the AppExchange online marketplace. 

Before joining Salesforce, Huddleston climbed the ranks at Oracle, where he started his career, to vice president.

Huddleston had been reported on indefinite leave from Microsoft in December. His duties in driving the partner programs were picked up by Gavriella Schuster.

Twilio offers a cloud-based platform delivering APIs software developers can use to send phone calls, text messages and video directly from within their applications. 

"As the leading communications platform for developers, we believe Twilio has unmatched potential to be the heart of an ecosystem for ISVs, SIs, and resellers in a massive market opportunity," George Hu, chief operating officer at Twilio, said in a prepared statement.


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