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20 Things You Didn't Know about Cloudflare


Cloudflare is a giant American company that specializes in website infrastructure and security. According to its Wikipedia, they deal with content delivery network services, internet security, domain name server services, and DDoS mitigation. Such services entail acting as a go-between between web visitors and the company's clients hosting provider playing the role of a reliable reverse proxy for different websites. Cloudflare is based in San Francisco, California but flaunts several server offices both locally in the USA and abroad. It has offices in major cities including Munich, Illinois, New York, London, Lisbon, Singapore, and Washington DC, among others. Here are several things that you probably did not know about it.

1. The Company's Neutrality Policy

This business entity is driven by a peculiar neutrality policy that makes it turn a blind to whatever content is posted on their clients' websites. The company's CEO has come out to make it clear that they work under the guidance of freedom of speech. As such, they have nothing to do with whatever their clients' post on their websites. Consequently, they are known to provide services to some of the most suspicious groups such as Rescator, a site that deals with illegal payment card data. However, this neutral stand has been met with both criticism and praise when Cloudflare seemed to have double standards by dropping Daily Stormer. On its website some claimed the move was dangerous since Nazis have the same freedom of speech rights as other Americans. On the other hand, others praised the firm for its rationality in helping protect cyberspace.

2. The Company's Leadership

Having broken into the internet industry ten years ago, Cloudflare, under its good leadership, has managed to claim a significant share of the market. Two of its founders have up to date retained their superior positions in the company's leadership. Matthew Prince is the CEO while Michelle Zatlyn serves as the COO. Other members of the management team include John Graham-Cumming (CTO), Thomas Seifert (CFO), Chris Merritt (CRO) and Joe Sullivan who serves as the CSO. With such a competent team at the helm, Cloudflare is going places.

3. The Company's Early Investors are Enjoying Massive Returns

Like other tech giants, Cloudflare is selling Class A shares in IPO, which is significantly outrun by Class B shares. While Class A shares hold one vote, the Class B shares carry ten votes. Back in 2009, Pelion Ventures and Venrock invested $2.1 million in Cloudflare. As such, if the valuation of Cloudflare stands at $3 billion, the two ventures are bound to be quite profitable. Each could walk off with a whopping $1 billion or 500 times what they invested in the company. Furthermore, in terms of voting power, Pelion flaunts 20.6% of the voting shares while Venrock holds 19.1%. The other Class B shareholder that could make a killing from the company is New Enterprise Associates; the value of their invested $20 million would multiply 34 times to about $681 million.

4. It Dropped 8chan

After the El Paso Texas and Christchurch shootings, Cloudflare decided to drop 8chan as their customer. The open platform had been continuously under fire for giving audience to terrorists. Before the El Paso attacks, the shooter is even said to have posted on the platform. Due to bad publicity, they had to cut connections with them.

5. Major Services Offered

This company offers a collection of web-related services that include the following:

  • DDoS protection- This service entails helping customers who are under cyber-attacks. Moreover, it comes in handy to mitigate the effects of such an attack before the damage is too much.
  •  Firewall Services- Cloudflare also offers firewall services to customers to prevent unauthorized penetration or hacking.
  • Authoritative Domain Naming System- DNS services which are supported by an anycast network are one of the company's highlights. Their lookup speeds are known to be among the fastest.
  • Content delivery network- It serves as a go-between in supplying of internet content. Cloudflare flaunts the best Internet exchange points connectivity worldwide hence placing it at a position to resupply internet content.
  • Other services offered include project Galileo, project Athenian, Domain Registrar, Network Time Services and Warp.

6. Notable Achievements

In the course of its ten-year existence, Cloudflare has managed to pull off impressive web-securing acts for their clients that have won them even more clients. Back in February 2014, they mitigated a DDoS attack on one of their clients. The attack had heightened to a whopping 400 Gigabits per second, which around the time was considered one of the most severe attacks ever recorded. Later on, they detected another but more massive 500 gigabits per second DDoS attack, which targeted independent media websites. With such achievements, the company continued to amass more customers, flaunting about 12 million customers as of 2017. The figure, however, increases each day since they get 20,000 more with each dawn.

7. The Company's Acquisitions

Having established itself amongst the world's most significant internet business companies, Cloudflare has gone on to make notable acquisitions. In three years, it had acquired four companies which is quite an achievement for a company that had only been in business for five years. According to Crunchbase in February 2014, Cloudflare acquired Stop TheHacker, which detects and disposes of malware in addition to blacklisting and reputation monitoring. Barely four months later in June, the firm bought Cryptoseal. It then stayed for one and half more years before celebrating Christmas by purchasing Eager in December 2016. Cloudflare also absorbed Neumob, a mobile VPN new venture, in November 2017. Such acquisitions have proven to be priceless over the years bringing in millions of dollars in terms of revenue.

8. Controversies Faced

Just like other big companies, Cloudflare has also been caught up in several disputes over the years. Cloudflare may boast of millions of clients, but most of them spew their hate online, which has led the company to come under fire. Some of its clients include Westboro Baptist Church and The Nation of Islam. According to Fast Company, Cloudflare has gained notoriety for its support of free speech that benefits hate groups and human rights activists. However, even the CEO one day found it necessary to clamp down the hate speech being used by certain websites. Cloudflare, therefore, stopped serving Daily Stormer, the only client the company has ever dripped due to political pressure. Cloudflare hopes never to have to shut down any of its clients again.

9. It Has Had Cases of Security Breaches

In the internet business, security issues are the order of the day and Cloudflare has also had its share of security concerns. In 2012, it was hit by UGNazi hackers who gained access through weak links in Google's authentication systems. The group accessed 4chan and defaced their website. In September 2016, Cloudflare detected a bug in their system that had been leaking all sorts of customer information, including passwords and messages. The big had been in their system for years without being detected until they configured their software. Cloudflare later asked the customers to change their passwords and be on the lookout for suspicious account activity.

10. Privacy policy

Cloudflare has a privacy policy ensuring that information of customers remains confidential. However, they also forward details of individuals who are bullied by hate sites but first, they need the customer's consent and give them notice too. Still, some websites like Reddit warn that the more they learn about someone's browsing habits, the higher the risk of that person's privacy.

11. Going Offline

On July 1, 2019, Cloudflare disappointed most of its customers for almost 3 minutes as they received 502 errors on its sites. While most users immediately concluded that the sites were under attack, the company explained that the CPU utilization in its network had experienced a massive spike hence the outage. The spike was due to a bad software deploy, but they later fixed the issue and apologized to its multitude of customers.

12. It Does Not Guarantee Spam Elimination

As much as we all hate receiving messages, Cloudflare does not guarantee you 100% protection from this menace. The firm says that although they cannot catch all attackers and spammers, through their web application firewall and basic security, they offer a reduced probability of such incidents. It also provides site owners with the option of blocking their IP addresses.

13. Notable Clients

According to Inc, Cloudflare extends its services to about 18% of the top 10,000 websites across the globe. Some of its notable clients include Walmart, Yale, SAP, Starbucks, Peloton, Fortune 1000, and Ring. Over the years, the number of Cloudflare's paying customers has risen, and between 2018 and 2019, the number increased from 67,899 to 74,873.

14. Its IPO is named Project Holloway

In a bid to honor Lee Holloway's legacy, the leadership decided to name their IPO process after him. The co-founder had to step down after suffering a rare neurological condition. Until the ailment caught up with him, Lee had been one of the lead engineers in the organization. The co-founder, however, still owns a 3.2% stake in the venture.

15. The Company is Wary of the US-China Trade War

Between 2017 and 2018, 52% of Cloudflare's earnings were derived from the international market. As such, the economic unrest generated by the US-China trade war is a cause for worry. China produces 5% of the foreign revenue, but although the amount might seem insignificant, Cloudflare highly regards the China market. They have managed to establish and maintain close business interaction with the Chinese tech giant Baidu, Inc. Furthermore, most of the customers have close ties with the Chinese market.

16. Cloudflare Protects Certain Groups on the Internet

The company offers some of its security protection services for free. The "Project Galileo" secures the activities of about 600 groups of customers that include independent journalists, art groups, and minority rights groups. Lending its services for free is also one of Cloudflare's charitable acts.

17. Its transparency

The company strives to protect its customers' personal information. It has even made public claims that they are not willing to give their customers private information to law enforcers. In their efforts to be transparent, Cloudflare believes that firms should secretly warn their customers should the government be snooping around their data. They, therefore, use biannual reports to make known how far they have gone in being transparent.

18. The Company's Expenses are Overwhelming Revenue Growth

In 2017, Cloudflare recorded a $10.7 million loss on revenue of $134.9 million. According to Market Watch, the number of losses increased in 2018 to $86.1 million against an income of $192.7 million. Although the revenues shot up by an impressive 43%, the expenses hit the roof by going as high as 711% due to the rise in administrative costs. In 2017 they had hovered around $20.3 million but sprinted to $85.2 million. The trend is expected to be the same in the foreseeable future as the company is investing in its growth and is incurring additional unavoidable expenses.

19. Awards and Notable Recognitions

With its rapid rise and successful ventures, Cloudflare has managed to catch the eye of significant business journals hence has scooped several awards. Between 2011 and 2012, the company was declared the most innovative network and internet technology company by the Wall Street Journal. In the same period, The World Economic Forum recognized it as a Technology Pioneer and also appeared in the Fast Company's top 10 list of most innovative companies. Furthermore, it bagged the TechCrunch award as the "Best Enterprise Startup" back in 2015. More recently, between 2016 and 2017, they were ranked on position 11 of the Forbes Cloud 100.

20. History and Significant Defining Events

This company was formed in July 2009 by Matthew Prince, Michelle Zattlyn and Lee Hollow. The trio had previously together worked successfully on a joint project, namely Project Honey Pot. They forged some form of connection which led them to form a joint venture. Cloudflare was however launched in September 2010 during the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. It stayed for long before attracting publicity and received media attention one year later in June 2010. Its climb fame happened when it represented Lulzsec, a black hat hacking group notorious for high profile attacks, including taking the CIA website offline. Cloudflare also earned a reputation when it partnered with several other web hosting companies such as HostPapa to develop its "Railgun" Technology. "Railgun" is a web protocol which aims to maximize internet performance. So far, Cloudflare has claimed its place on the internet business high table and is currently raking in billions of dollars.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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