Matthew Prince is the chairman and chief operating officer of Cloudflare, Inc, a company within the software industry. He co-founded the company in July of 2009 and after a decade he is still at the helm of the company that he helped to build. There is a lot that we can learn about entrepreneurship from Mr. Prince. We wanted to learn more about the things that led to his success and gain a bit more insight into his inspirations, influences, and how he achieved such remarkable success in business. Here are 20 things that we learned about Mr. Prince that you might not know, but might find useful.
1. Matthew Prince has led Cloudflare for over a decade
Prince co-founded Cloudflare with his partner in March of 2009. It was at this time that he was appointed the chief executive officer of the company. He oversees the operations and strategic planning of the business and he has done so for nearly 11 years. It has been a decade of success which has earned him a great deal of respect and recognition for his skills in business and executive leadership. The business is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area.
2. He also co-founded Unspam Technologies, Inc.
Prior to Cloudflare, Matthew was already a successful entrepreneur. In December of 2001, he launched his Unspam Technologies company. Unspam is a leading provider of do-not-contact registry deployments. The business provides instant messenger, mobile phone, fa, and email infrastructure for the registries and they assist businesses with compliance with laws designed to protect children and others from unwanted contacts. The company was founded by computer scientists and attorneys who account for tech and legal aspects of electronic messenging and they work with governments, businesses, and individuals.
3. Prince has been an executive for decades
Matthew launched Unspam Technologies in 2001 and he is still the chairman of the company at the present. Prince has remained an integral part of the operation of the business for more than 18 years. He continues to be involved even though he is an executive at another of the companies that he founded.
4. Matthew Prince is also an academic
Prince was previously a college instructor. He taught at the John Marshall Law School in the capacity of adjunct professor of law at the institution from August of 2003 through July of 2012. In total, he taught law students for nine years. This adds yet another dimension to his already impressive curriculum vitae.
5. He completed an entrepreneurial residency at Highland
In July of 2009, Matthew Prince began his entrepreneur in residence training at Highland Capital Partners. This experience gave him hands-on experience as well as the opportunity to observe other professionals at the company in action. He stayed with the firm in his EIR training until October of 2009, finishing his residency in 4 months.
6. He was also a ski instructor
Matthew Prince has done a lot of interesting things in his lifetime. Prior to becoming a business owner, he worked as a ski instructor. He began his job with the Park City Mountain Resort in November of 1996. He just worked as a skin instructor for the season and in April of 1997, the job was over for the year. We can assume that because he was skilled enough to teach others how to ski that he is fair at the sport himself.
7. He was active in extracurricular activities in school
Matthew Prince attended Rowland Hall-St. Mark's from 1988 and graduated in 1992. He immediately enrolled in college after graduation, at Trinity College-Hartford. He studied English and computer science earning his bachelor of arts degree in 1996. While at the college he was involved in a variety of extracurricular activities. He was a student network administrator and was also involved in the Debate Society.
8. He was already an entrepreneur in college
While attending Trinity College Harford and working on his undergraduate degree, Matthew Prince added a few more activities on top of the others he was involved in. He co-founded the Trincoll Journal during his time there. He also served as a writing associate as well as the Editor-in-chief of the Trinity Tripod.
9. He has an Ivy League Education
A few years after earning his bachelor's degree, Mr. Prince applied for admission to the Harvard Business School. He places a high value on education and he enrolled in the MBA program in the field of business. He earned his MBA from Harvard in 2009. With a previous background in English and Computer Science, the business discipline was a smart move because this gave him a broad range of expertise and it helped to prepare him for a career in a variety of different industries. This shows that he was thinking like an entrepreneur already. He had learned how easy it was for him to establish a new startup with the journal that he founded, and he continued to broaden his knowledge and skill base in a manner that would make him prepared for tackling almost anything.
10. He excelled academically
While some students struggle just to earn suitable marks in their studies, this wasn't a problem for Matthew Prince. He had a natural ability and even though he kept multiple interests going at once, he performed very well academically. he was a Dubilier Prize Winner as well as a Baker Scholar. He was off to an exciting start in his career. Prince set a pattern of building an impressive resume from the time that he entered college which makes him attractive as a job candidate.
11. Prince is also a JD
After earning his MBA degree, Matthew Prince wasn't finished in his pursuit of higher learning. He enrolled at the University of Chicago, Law School in 1997. He earned his JD in law from the institution and graduated in 2000. He could now add the title of attorney to his long list of accomplishments. With his natural ability to perform well academically this was a decision that followed sound logic. The degree opened up yet more doors for him if he were to decide to pursue a career as a lawyer. When you consider the different college degrees that he earned there is a pattern that ties them all together. There is an interrelatedness that conspires to make the perfect leader for the anti-spam company that he developed. He used all of the skills that he earned from his various college degrees, so what to some may seem a bit disjointed was actually a part of a greater long-range plan.
12. Prince has done a lot of editing jobs
Matthew established a new journal while pursuing his undergraduate degree and also served as editor in chief of another publication while at Trinity College Hartford. He resurrected these skills and also became the Editor-in-Chief for The Phoenix Legal Magazine. In addition to that, he also served as the Managing Editor for The Legal Forum Topical Law Review.
13. Cloudflare went through some successful venture funding rounds
With Prince at the helm, Cloudflare raised $2.1 million in a Series A funding round with Pelion Venture Partners and Venrock leading the round in 2009. Two years later, an additional $20 million was raised in a Series B funding round with Pelion Venture Partners, Venrock, and New Enterprise Associates. The following year an additional $50 million was raised in a round of Series C funding from teh same investors leading with Union Square Ventures, and Greenspring Associates joining in. In 2014, a Series D round of funding raised an additional $150 million led by Franklin Templeton Investments and several other investors.
14. He and his partners took Cloudflare public
It's always a risk when you take a successful company and go public, but Prince and his two founding partners decided to take the plunge. They filed for IPO on August 15, 2019, on the New York Stock Exchange. It launched under the ticker symbol NET. The opening for public trading took place on September 13, 2019, with a price of $15 per share.
15. Prince led Cloudflare in a series of acquisitions
Between February of 2014 through 2017, Cloudflare made a series of acquisitions as a part of their expansion and growth strategy. The first was the malware detection company StopTheHacker, which also offers automatic malware removal, along with reputation and blacklist monitoring. These were services that helped to expand the current offerings of Cloudflare. Less than two years later, the company acquired the Eager company with the intention of upgrading the apps platform of Cloudflare for third-party apps drag and drops installation onto sites which are Cloudflare enabled. In 2017, the company made the acquisition of a mobile VPN startup called Neumob. The amounts that Cloudflare paid for the acquisitions of these three companies has not been disclosed.
16. Cloudflare has come under fire
In 2011, when Cloudflare was still a relatively young company, it provided services to some groups which are known to spread messages of hate which may have led to violence and even some deaths. This resulted in a series of controversies. While Cloudflare was not responsible for the content of the clients that it provided services for, it was still at the center of a controversy that became heated. The hacker group LulzSec was one of them and others were The Daily Stormer and 8chan. It was even suggested that the upper levels of leadership supported the ideals of white supremacy and neo-Nazi beliefs. Before media attention, Cloudflare refused to take action but with an increase in media pressure, they ceased providing protection for Stormer.
17. Matthew Prince addressed his beliefs on freedom of speech
As an attorney, Prince has a firm understanding of the laws pertaining to freedom of speech. Because Cloudflare is an internet infrastructure provider, the company has broad legal immunity from any content that its users produce. After removing The Daily Stormer a blog ws released by Cloudflare's CEO and it made the position of both Prince and Cloudflare very clear. He vowed that he would never allow external pressure to influence the way that the company conducts business and he further declared him to be " a free speech absolutist." In short, it isn't up to Cloudflare to pass judgment on what is moral or immoral. They are merely a service provider and excluding groups because of their fundamental beliefs is not related to their operations. He further expounded that any illegal activities should be addressed through the legal system and not from the infrastructure provider.
18. His stance on free speech drew a great deal of support
Prince made a firm stand in favor of free speech. he was joined by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is a digital rights group that is based in the United States. They agreed that it is not Cloudflare's responsibility to pass such judgments.This helped to shore up the decision made by Prince to make a public proclamation on behalf of the company he founded.
19. He supported toe establishment of a new free speech organization
Prince and Cloudflare took even more concerted actions after the Daily Stormer incident. The group created an alliance of organizations in support of free speech. This strengthened Cloudflare's right to resist any future pressure exerted by the media and other organizations that would create controversy over the content of the clients served by the provider. The alliance was called Project Galileo.
20. Matthew Prince has grown along with the way
We see evidence of Matthew Prince's evolution through the struggles that the company he founded has encountered. He once gave into pressure and went against his own core beliefs to satisfy the public outcry for action. He regretted the decision and made the choice to follow his own guiding principles and to run the business in a manner that is not exclusive and does not judge clients nor discriminate. That isn't what Cloudflare was ever intended to do. He is a strong leader who has learned a lot on his journey and despite those who disagree with his values, he is not willing to bend on his own principles again.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee