Careers at CloudFlare
CloudFlare’s mission is to build a better Internet.
Matthew Prince and Lee Holloway created Project Honey Pot, a system that enabled website owners to track how spammers harvested e-mails. The solution was popular, with countless websites from over 185 countries taking part. Prince later enrolled in Harvard Business School, where he met Michelle Zatlyn. When he told her about his work, she saw an opportunity to extend it further by not only tracking online threats, but also stopping them. The two worked on a business plan.
A friend of Prince’s noted that the solution would be a “firewall in the cloud”, and suggested the name CloudFlare, which they adopted. Holloway, in California, built a working prototype in his free time. After graduating from Harvard, Prince and Zatlyn moved out west and collaborated with Holloway to refine the prototype. Things moved quickly – in November 2009 the system closed its first round of financing with Venrock and Pelion Venture Partners, to the tune of $2.05 million.
The trio began recruiting staff for the firm, with hires coming from major players such as PayPal, Yahoo, and Google. In June 2010 they introduced a private beta version for a handful of members of the Honey Pot community. The outcome was unexpected – users commented that not only was the system protecting them from Internet threats, but their websites were loading at a quicker rate – on average, 30% faster. Thus, CloudFlare was enhancing performance in addition to increasing security.
In September 2010, the team gathered in San Francisco for TechCruch Disrupt, a conference for startups. There they offically launched CloudFlare, as well as unveiled the testimonials of its users. The site could best be described as a provider of a content delivery network and distributed domain name server (DNS) services, whose ultimate purpose is to protect and accelerate websites.
In 2011 the site gained its first prominent media notice when it provided security to the website of LulzSec, a hacking group. The next few years saw several successful rounds of funding. In 2011 it raised $20 million in a round led by New Enterprise Associates. In $2013 it raised $50 million. And in 2015 it raised $110 million in a round led by Fidelity Investments. CloudFlare has since won several major awards, including “Best Enterprise Startup" by TechCrunch and "Most Innovative Network & Internet Technology Company" for two years running by the Wall Street Journal.
Business model of CloudFlare
CloudFlare has a segmented business model, with clients who have slightly different needs. Its customer groups are as follows:
- Individuals: The company offers the “Free” and “Pro” plans for general members of the public and individual professionals, respectively.
- Organizations: The company offers the “Business” and “Enterprise” plans for organizations, with the Enterprise plan offering higher levels of service.
CloudFlare offers three primary value propositions: risk reduction, performance, and convenience.
The company offers significant protection from Internet threats by providing a Website Application Firewall (WAF). It also helps prevent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
The company offers a Content Delivery Network that customers can use to distribute their content worldwide, making it closer to site visitors and allowing the site load faster. Even Web pages with third party widgets and ad servers load quickly. CloudFlare does not bill for bandwidth usage, meaning even if the site becomes heavily trafficked (or suffers a DDoS attack) rates will stay the same. On average, a website on CloudFlare loads twice as fast and uses 60% less bandwidth.
The company allows users to have Free, Pro, and Business websites within one account. It also enables customers to upgrade or downgrade at any given time during a month on a per site basis. Further, it consolidates billing for all sites into a single invoice, simplifying the payment process.
CloudFlare’s main channel is direct sales, through which it acquires customers. It also markets its offerings through its website and social media pages.
CloudFlare’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service, automated nature. Customers utilize the service through the main platform without interaction with employees. The company’s website provides a Support Center with detailed answers to many potential questions, as well as a Resources page that features white papers, case studies, and videos.
That said, there is a personal assistance component as it also offers phone and e-mail support for its users.
CloudFlare’s business model entails maintaining and updating its platform for its individual and organizational customers.
CloudFlare maintains a partner program for companies that offer website or domain services to customers. Its specific partner groups are as follows:
- Hosting Providers: The company works with managed hosting, cloud hosting, and hybrid hosting providers to help them offer CloudFare to their customers.
- Technology Integrators: The company partners with this group to offer its solution to its customers.
- Enterprise Distributors: The company works with system integrators, value-added resellers, and managed service providers who want to provide a total cloud technology stack. Specifically, it offers a solution for mobile, website, and API security and performance.
- Digital Agencies: The company works with digital agencies and web developers to provide solutions such as a content delivery network, DDoS mitigation, and a web application firewall.
- eCommerce Platforms: The company offers its eCommerce partners solutions to optimize their customers’ web properties.
CloudFlare’s long list of partners includes FlexiNetworks, Gogax, Cynet, Altervista, and FastHive.
CloudFlare’s main resource is its proprietary software platform. It also relies heavily on its technology and customer service employees for daily maintenance and support. As a relatively new startup, it requires financing, and has raised $182.1 million in five rounds of funding from 12 investors.
CloudFlare has a cost-driven structure, working to minimize expenses through significant automation and low-price value propositions. Its biggest cost driver is likely sales/marketing expenses. Other major drivers are in the areas of customer support/operations and product development.
CloudFlare has one revenue stream, the fees it charges for use of its platform. It offers the following price tiers:
- Pro: Cost is $20 per month and $5 per month for each additional website; plan features include quicker site performance, mobile optimizations, web application firewall, and real-time statistics
- Business: Cost is $200 per month per website; plan features include all Pro plan components, plus full customization, advanced DoS attack mitigation, 100% uptime guarantee, and Railgun web optimization
- Enterprise: Pricing varies (sales team must be contacted); plan features include all Business plan components, plus setup consultation, 24/7 phone support, a dedicated solutions engineer, and multi-user access
info: Matthew earned a J.D. from the University of Chicago and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He worked as an attorney for a single day before joining a tech startup. His past roles include Co-Founder of Unspam Technologies and Project Honey Pot.
info: Lee earned a degree in Computer Science from the University of Santa Cruz. Prior to joining CloudFlare he co-founded Project Honey Pot. He specializes in working on high-volume, high-availability databases such as RegistryCompliance.com.
info: Michelle earned a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in Management from McGill University, as well as an MBA from Harvard. Her past positions include roles at Google and Toshiba, and she has previously founded two successful startups.
info: Ben earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts. His past positions include CTO of VMware, SVP at Cisco, and Corporate VP of Development at Microsoft. He has over 30 years of experience with computers.
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