By Ross Kohan
January 17, 2017

Jeff Lawson says he got some very good advice when he was a young entrepreneur—and it’s paid off big.

Lawson, the 39-year-old CEO of the fast-growing voice and text communications company Twilio, credits Doubleclick founder Kevin O’Connor for the words of wisdom. “[O’Connor] said ‘I would rather have 10% of $1 billion than 100% of $1 million.’ And the point was shoot for building something big and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Lawson continued: “Because if you shoot big you can achieve some big things as an entrepreneur.”

That has been certainly been the case for Lawson. He decided to go big with an IPO in June at a time when technology companies were fearful of selling shares to the public. In fact, not a single tech company dared to go public in 2016 until Twilio took the plunge. Not only that, Twilio sold its shares on the New York Stock Exchange the day before the Brexit vote in Britain when investors all around the world were on edge.

It was a gutsy move, but Lawson’s contrarian instincts paid off. Twilio stock nearly doubled on the first day of trading and Lawson’s net worth swelled to almost half a billion dollars.

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