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Activist pressure increases on Twilio after Anson takes stake


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Jeff Lawson, co-founder and chief executive officer of Twilio Inc., center, rings the opening bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Sept.17, 2018.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Activist investor Anson Funds has built a stake in Twiliosoftware company’s board pushing for the sale of the entire business, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC.

Twilio shares were up nearly 4.5% in Tuesday trading.

Anson did not hold any Twilio stock for the period ended Sept. 30, according to securities filings, but has since built a stake valued at around $50 million, the person familiar said, who spoke anonymously to discuss private communications freely. The letter to the board urges Twilio to either sell itself or at a minimum, divest its data and applications business, the person familiar said.

The growth of the stake coincided with Anson’s hiring of Sagar Gupta from Legion Partners. Gupta led Legion’s activist engagements with Twilio and Nutanix

The news was first reported by The Information.

“Twilio regularly engages with shareholders and appreciates constructive input that furthers our goal of creating sustainable long-term value,” a Twilio spokesperson told CNBC in a statement.

The continued activist attention caps off a challenging year for Twilio, which makes software that helps businesses engage with their customers. The company’s stock is up around 28% year to date but remains well off its 2021 highs. In February, the company cut around 1,500 employees, or 17% of its workforce citing a need for heightened efficiency. Those layoffs followed a similar headcount reduction in September 2022.

The company also implemented a reorganization in February, creating two new business units: Data & Applications and Communications. A Twilio spokesperson told CNBC that the February reorganization “reflected input” from Twilio’s shareholders. Nonetheless, Anson has urged the board to divest the former business unit if it can’t secure a full sale to a strategic buyer.

Tech acquisitions, while muted compared with pandemic levels, have seen some significant plays in 2023. In March, Silver Lake and CPP Investments announced a deal to take survey software company Qualtrics private in a $12.5 billion deal. IBMannounced in June. CiscoSplunk$28 billion cash deal in September.

Co-founder and CEO Jeff Lawson helped start Twilio in 2008 and guided the company through its 2016 IPO. Twilio has a market cap of around $11.6 billion.

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