Twilio CEO ditched PowerPoint for long-form memos, thanks to lessons learned from Jeff Bezos


Amazon’s PowerPoint hate rubbed off on Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson.

As one of the first product managers at Amazon Web Services, the company’s unique leadership style left quite an impression on Lawson. Many of those lessons carried over when he founded software company Twilio.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ love of the long-form memo, over PowerPoint presentations, was one of them. Lawson shared what he learned from his time at the e-commerce giant on an episode of the “Fortune Unfiltered” podcast:

We’ve banished PowerPoint presentations. We make our decisions based on what we call CTPs (communicated thought processes) and really what it does is it puts the rigor of your mind to work writing a document, you know prose, to help flesh out an argument for an idea that you want to build or a direction you think the company should go in. When you put it in a PowerPoint you can be very intellectually lazy. We’ve probably all built a PowerPoint five minutes before the meeting.

It’s a well-known tradition that Amazon employees are encouraged to put their thoughts into six-page documents that are read silently at the beginning of meetings, rather than relying on PowerPoint presentations.

Lawson told Fortune he also encourages an intense customer-first focus at Twilio, which is arguably Amazon’s most defining cultural trait.

“Always bringing your company back to that notion of, ‘we’re only here to serve customers’ and always reminding the company, but also building systems and processes that enforce this customer-first point of view, is very important,” he said.

Like Amazon, Twilio was born in Seattle. But Lawson moved the company to San Francisco in 2009 for personal reasons. Twilio is now valued at more than $4.5 billion after crushing its IPO earlier this year.


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