It’s my great pleasure to announce that Rick Dalzell has joined Twilio’s Board of Directors. As you usually read in such an announcement, I’ll tell you Rick’s background: he was the CIO of Amazon for roughly 10 years, from 1997 to 2007. Before that, he was an SVP at Walmart. But titles and companies, while impressive, don’t tell the full story. Rick is humble, but he’s one of technology’s greatest leaders-behind-the-leaders.
At Twilio, we have an “inverted-pyramid” philosophy of management and strive to live it every day. You can read more about it here or here, but here’s the gist. Our employees are closest to our customers and therefore have the most direct information on how we can better serve our customers every day. Instead of giving orders as is typical in the upright pyramid structure, Twilio’s leaders aim to ensure that everybody has what they need to relentlessly focus on serving our customers. As the CEO, my job is to empower the employees and serve them in any way I can in the pursuit of relentless customer focus. It makes sense that our Board of Directors serves a similar role – helping me and our entire team in the pursuit of serving customers.
We’re building a company of DOers: smart, hard-working, hungry souls who strive to serve our customers every day and change the face of global communications forever. Some companies seek celebrities, politicians, futurists, or what-have-you for their outside board members – but we wanted a DOer.
I had the pleasure of working with Rick on some projects at AWS – and though he was a big scary executive CIO, he clearly knew his role was to train and empower a strong leadership bench. He wasn’t calling shots – but helping leaders make good decisions and holding them accountable. I believe this management philosophy – that Rick lived every day – is the basis for the R&D powerhouse you see at Amazon today. Ask anybody from Amazon during Rick’s tenure, and you’ll hear how he left an unmistakable mark on the organization and most likely – on them personally.
When Rick left Amazon in 2007, it’s said that many tears were shed and Jeff Bezos left this tribute to Rick as an Easter Egg on Amazon.com. I get it. I know why. He’s a leader’s leader. One day, I hope to cry when Rick retires from our board. But until then, I can’t wait to see what he’ll help us build.