🎂 Welcome to Birthday Week 2021
2021 marks Cloudflare’s 11th birthday, and each day this week we will announce new products and host fascinating discussions with guests including product experts, customers, and industry peers.
In this Cloudflare TV segment, we will have a fireside chat between Matthew Prince (CEO & Co-Founder, Cloudflare), Michelle Zatlyn (Co-Founder, President & Chief Operating Officer, Cloudflare) and Jen Taylor (SVP, Chief Product Officer, Cloudflare).
Read the blog post:
Find all of our Birthday Week announcements and CFTV segments at the Birthday Week hub
Hello and welcome to Birthday Week 2021. I'm Jen Taylor, Chief Product Officer, and I'm thrilled to be joined by Michelle and Matthew.
Hi Jen. This is like my favorite week of the year.
It's like my, and also like my favorite Cloudflare tradition and just super exciting.
It's, it was 11 years ago today that we, Michelle and I launched, launched Cloudflare.
It was in the afternoon so I guess we actually have a few hours still before before it's officially our kind of exact birthday birthday but it's, it's been pretty amazing.
It's to think back over over those 11 years and, and, and this week as you said is is really fun because we get to launch a bunch of great new products.
So, just stepping back, looking at birthday week, you know we talked about birthday week really is a celebration of the sort of the genesis of the company but can you take me back a little bit to like the genesis of birthday week like how, how did you come up with this concept because it's kind of crazy, like in a really good Cloudflare crazy kind of way it's kind of crazy.
You know, I think, so I think we kind of almost stumbled, stumbled into it it wasn't, it wasn't really the intention on the, you know, we had launched a TechCrunch Disrupt.
And a year later, TechCrunch invited us back to kind of have a check in.
And, you know, we wanted to have some news of something, something to do and we were trying to figure it out and at the time we were working on a feature to do translation between IPv4 and IPv6 in both directions, and, and the idea was how could we wasn't something customers weren't really asking for it, but anyone who is in the networking space really thought, this is an important thing for us to be doing in order for us to encourage IPv6 adoption.
And so that was our first birthday week announcement.
It didn't used to be a week it used to just be a day. And on, on September 27 2011 we turned on the IPv6 to IPv4 gateway, and the response was, wow, that's so great and it's great that you know you're focusing on something, which isn't just about how do you, how do you get people to pay more for your service but you're actually, you know, continue to make your service better and I think that that that early experience really resonated with us and, and, and so from that point on we thought you know every year let's let's find one big thing to announce and and I think that what changed over the years was, you know, it, we didn't have enough, it was never just one big thing it ended up being then two and then three and then we had enough for an entire week and and then you know what really is translated from that was instead of just doing it on our birthday now now we do these innovation weeks I think we have seven or eight over the course of this year which is which is pretty typical for us.
And, but but birthday week is still really special and it's a time that we that we reserve for those products that that really are, are giving back to the Internet.
You know, once you start doing something and we definitely stumbled onto it but then it just kind of gain some momentum and built on each other, built on it's built on it, and all of a sudden it's become birthday week, and something we all really look forward to, and I think it's, you know, we everyone at CalPERS really shows up every day to help make the Internet better that's why many of us come to work every single day and to be able to kind of rally around a date that you can't move it turns out you can't move the date of your birthday becomes a very powerful.
I don't want to say forcing function it just becomes something you rally around you say okay what are we doing for birthday week, how are we going to, what can we get back to the Internet this week and so it just becomes this date that everyone knows that we all look forward to and then all, and still, even though we all look forward to it it still sneaks up us sneaks up on us in some way every year too so I think after being after Labor Day is tricky.
You know, so you just said something Matthew that that really resonates me when I think about sort of birthday weekend our mission which is this this moment where you step back and you say this is important.
And our mission is to help build a better Internet and frankly my favorite word in that mission is is help.
How did that word end up in the mission and what does that mean to you both.
Yeah, you know I was I remember, you know, we didn't, we didn't really start out with a mission, you know, Michelle and I were good business students and and saw a hole in the market and and thought wow we can build, build something, build something around that.
And part of what we had to do was in we knew that ultimately our business where we would regenerate most of our revenue would come from very large customers who would spend a lot of money with us but in order to build a service for those large customers you had to start somewhere.
And we needed to be able to see all of the different threats and attacks that were online and in order to, you know, protect you know customers that would spend, you know, millions of dollars with us.
And so we have this chicken and egg problem where we couldn't see the data unless we have customers and we cannot get customers unless we have the data.
And, and so we solve that by giving giving clever way for free to sort of small businesses and individual developers, and that kickstarted, you know, the flywheel, what I think I didn't appreciate was if you if you provided a service like Cloudflare at no cost that a bunch of people that would would end up signing up for it were organizations that that were constantly under attack and didn't have a lot of resources so journalists and human rights organizations and and people, you know, around the world that were doing things that were incredibly important.
But, but, but didn't work, you know, we're making any money at it.
And, and I think again that was that was a real surprise but as we saw that happen over and over again.
And, you know, I think we came to this realization that we had a we had a mission that was something that was actually quite a bit bigger than hey let's go build, build a business we we really were helping protect, you know, the parts of the Internet that were that were the most the most important and so it was at a board meeting and Michelle remember the date of it better than I do but I remember around sort of 2013 or so and.
And we had one of the people who would come to our board meetings was a guy named Brad Burnham at Union Square Ventures and I remember Michelle I sat down.
And we were really excited because we said you know our mission is to is to, we sort of distilled it down to our mission is to build a better Internet.
And I remember presenting that at the board meeting, and, and I was looking right at Brad as we were presenting it because I thought you know Brad had had come from, you know, a long career at really building, building the Internet, and, and he kind of frowned and folded his arms and, and then we kind of moved on, and a little bit later that day we were going out to lunch, and Brad said, have a bone to pick with you about about the mission.
And he said, you know, I've spent my entire career, working on building the Internet and what's amazing about the Internet is that it is a network of networks is a collection of various people.
And when you say you're going to build a better Internet, I hear that as a threat.
And I hear that as something which isn't really in the spirit of what the Internet is and the minute he said it, you know, we knew we knew that he was absolutely right.
And, and Michelle and I went back and started thinking about it and said, you know, we're, our goal isn't to build a better Internet, our goal is to be a good actor, that's part of the overall Internet, and we will be one of many working together.
And so, you know, we said, you know, our goal is to help build a better Internet and to this day, you know, whenever anyone I and people still slip up and say that our, you know, our goal is to build a better Internet and I'm the first to sort of jump in and correct them when they do that but but I think it's important and I think that, you know, if you look over the course of what we're announcing this week, you know, a lot of it is stuff that we've built ourself but a lot of it is also us partnering with other leaders, other other companies that we respect other other people who can bring various aspects together and what what I find, you know, is really fun about Cloudflare at this point is, remember, you know, back in in 2010 there was something that, you know, we had to do but it was like, Oh, you know, we'd have to get the browser makers to make a change to how browsers work and, you know, we were just at eight person company at the time and there's no one's going to listen to us.
Today, you know, we're at a point where oftentimes you know if we need the browsers to do something we can call them up and they'll they'll make changes on their side or oftentimes they'll call us up and say, Hey, you know, can we can we work together on this.
And I think that that that has part of what has accelerated really the development of the Internet over the last little bit and it's, it's been, you know, just amazing to see how much better it keeps getting today and I'm proud to be, you know, one small part of it.
I have nothing to add me I remember that it was 2013 so you got the date right Matthew and yeah it I also have a visceral reaction when when the word help gets omitted, because it's just like it's not right, and it's amazing how one word can can change.
And that is that moment, I feel like when you build a business. And this is for any entrepreneur listening or anybody who's been part of a growth company it's just kind of moments that are forever imprinted in your brain and there's a bunch that you forget.
Sometimes people will say something I'm like I totally forgot about that until you just brought that up but that moment of Brad Burnham from University Square Venture is really saying no no.
This is not right and then when it's like we talked about like what about help.
And that just was like crystallized forever, it just felt right it was like all the stars aligned so I 100 % agree.
You know, if you step back and you think about it obviously you know we're celebrating 11 years and and the Internet continues to evolve probably, you know, rapidly if not even more so over the course of the past couple years as we've we've all been in the pandemic and more reliant on it than ever.
You know, as you as you step back and you think about sort of the birthday weeks we've had and the week that we're about to step into what are some of the, what are some of the trends or things that are top of mind for you as you think about places where we really feel like we can help.
Maybe I can start in the math you can can chime in, you know, I think that one, one, it's hard because sometimes when you're in it's hard but it does feel like there's some big changes kind of going on right now, both with the Internet and technology and in the world and some have been in play for a long time and some have really feel like they've accelerated the last two years.
And, but I fundamentally the Internet is changing just way more businesses are connecting and using it in different ways people are using in different ways it's getting pushed and stretched and there's tons of innovation coming out of it.
And you can't go to one kind of authoritative source to figure out where we are today and where is it going so it's really hard to predict the future, but it just does feel different and so if you're a business trying to put something new online and new service online it's like wait how do you set yourself up that you can grow with the future of what's to come.
If you're a new entrepreneur trying to start up a business like where do you start like what problem has that going to evolve it's hard to see I feel like it's almost like it's almost like one of those snow globes where the snow is coming down it's hard to quite see it but you know it something is there.
And what's been really interesting, like for for for our journey at Cloudflare my personal journey at Cloudflare is just, it's amazing how this tailwinds been going for a long time the shift has happened a long time where it's where more devices are connecting online there are more cyber risks there are more performance and reliability issues it's a very global problem it's a very horizontal problem whether you're a student trying to put a school project online or whether you are the largest organization in the world, everybody has to care about cyber attacks everyone has to care to make sure it's fast and want us to make sure that it's reliable online when you go to get it.
So it's a very universal problem. And what I really think is interesting about Cloudflare is we're helping make all these things that used to be very expensive, a lot more affordable and very technically difficult we're making much more accessible.
And I think that's been so rewarding and so as you see all these changes going on the Internet and technology and and I'd like I'm a big in the bucket of it's not slowing down it's only going to accelerate.
You need a service like Cloudflare to help figure out some of those foundational things to make things faster, safer, more reliable, and it turns out we've been really focused and obsessed obsessed is probably the right word I'm working on that for the last 11 years, turns out we're really good at it and so we take things that used to be hard and make it a lot easier and that feels really good and so I do think there's just this huge shift going on it's hard to go look up exactly where this transition, like the rise of cloud computing AI machine learning there's some of these buzzwords you hear over and over again.
Identity and it going online how that's shifting these huge shifts and, you know, in our founders letter, the very last sentence just talks about, we feel like Cloudflare investment and Cloudflare is like an investment in the future of the Internet.
And I think that really sums it up it's, you need to future future proof your business, and you need to connect to a network like Cloudflare to help make everything faster, safer and more reliable.
And that's why we come to work every day to help make that happen so that's kind of like the broad strokes of what I see and that kind of helps figure out what products should we build.
And why are we growing so quickly and why do we help so much traffic and so many businesses around the world and it's just this over there's just this huge shift happening behind the scenes.
Yeah, I mean I feel the same thing and I think there are sort of three, three big areas that that are top of mind for me so the first is, what's the future of work, and, and the Internet's going to play a big, a big role in that, in that it's, it really is the thing that's held us together over the last little bit and even as we start to get back together in person.
I think getting the technology right in order to make sure that the workplace is still inclusive that people, you know, still feel like they can have the flexibility, going forward, that's that's that's top of mind for every business right now and I think it's top of mind for for us as well.
I think the second thing is that there are, you know, huge public policy concerns that the Internet has on surface has surfaced.
And, and we as a society are going to have to figure that out and work through that.
There are undoubtedly applications that run on the Internet that have caused, you know, enormous amounts of harm.
And, and we're going to have to, you know, think through how we fix that harm, but I think it's incredibly important that as we do that we continue to recognize that the miracle that is the Internet and not not throw that out along the way because I think that the underlying network really is a miracle and is one of the, you know, if not the greatest invention of of all human human history.
And then I think the third which is, you know, frankly, I'm, I'm, I still feel like I'm, you know, for a long time I felt like I was the sort of young punk kid who is sort of understood how technology worked.
I think that everything that's going on today with you know what sort of being deemed web three.
And what that looks like is, is, is interesting and I think that I don't totally know whether it's a complete sea change, or whether it's a fad.
But, but I think that it's one of those things where, you know, we are trying to figure out how you can support all of the creativity and excitement that's going on in that in that space and so I think that's a, that's an area that, that, that, you know, I feel like I'm, I have to educate myself more and more on all the time and, and, and spend fun working with our team.
It turns out that you know if all if all of the work that we did around cryptography to make the Internet more secure actually dovetails incredibly well into what everyone is doing with NFTs and blockchains and and everything else and so again I'm not sure we know exactly how that's going to play out but we want to be super supportive of that, that ecosystem and community, regardless of what direction it goes.
Yeah, you know it's, it's interesting I think so much about the work that we do here and then I think specifically birthday week does a great job sort of highlighting it and your comments Matthew also highlighted as well just the diversity of different sort of opportunities or challenges we see that kind of help be a part of this, this bigger community and this innovation.
Michelle you mentioned that the founders letter which I read this morning, over a cup of coffee and it was fantastic and it's really one of my, my favorite newer traditions for birthday week.
You know, but, but one of the things I see central to the work we do here at Koffler is really the, the combination of the juncture of the team and the culture that we've built, and the innovation that we've been able to deliver.
You know, obviously 11 years in to think about the fact that we're able to still, you know, recruit attract such phenomenal talent and at the same time, you know, be able to foster this culture of curiosity innovation.
I'm kind of curious how you have you thought about the culture early on as an organization and and sort of what are some of the key things you think about now as we continue to scale and grow.
I know, similar to kind of how our mission came to be our culture also emerged over time as a reflection of what cloud for felt like it on a daily basis it wasn't something on day one that were said okay this is the blueprint it was more in emerged just like our mission emerged so once we started to write it down and kind of crystallize it it really felt true because it was how we were acting on a daily basis and.
And so it was something that emerged over time, I, I, you know, the conference values are curiosity transparency and principles.
And I think a lot of things you look at that we've done over the years, you're like wow yeah that does sound like Cloudflare we're very principled we take a point of view we draw lines the sand, I think that we take a stand we're proud of that.
Curious best people at Cloudflare are incredibly curious we don't because we do so much because we have such a culture of innovation we don't expect everyone to know everything on day one we like to have people from different backgrounds and different level of experiences but if you're curious you can learn a ton and if you're both a good teacher and a good learner, we think really great things happen and I think there's no better leader at that with math and then Matthew and john Graham coming our CTO they're just incredibly curious human beings so it really sets the tone for the rest of us and it's incredible and then transparency where both internally we share a lot with what we're doing and why we're doing it and how things are going just, we share a ton internally but then externally as well with our customers why are we launching a product, what, why are we doing this or we had this hard technical problem here's how we solve it we blog a lot on our corporate blog there used to be a joke of think Cloudflare has a court, just has a business so they can blog all the time and there's a little bit of.
There's a little bit of piece of that where we do blog a lot and it's we like to just share and we kind of think, well, it will, if it sparks something in somebody else either they might come work for us and I built for us it might help them solve something and build really really cool and push this world forward and so this idea of transparency has been really important to us and so it's emerged over time, I think that as somebody who's worked we worked together for a long time Jen something I say often is the best part of my job are the people I get to work with.
It's just, I've had a lot of jobs in my life and I mean I wouldn't have said that we're just people really care they should they're smart they're talented they show up.
They, they sweat the details they're trying to do the right thing we play as a team we went as a team it just feels really really good to be on a team of 2000 people around the world who are carried to help make the Internet better for our customers and for everyone like it just it feels really good and I think in the last year and a half with coven where the world was just a such a heavy place like it's been such a heavy place, but Internet traffic doubled around the world in every country, every single country in the world it doubled it exploded overnight.
In a way, the Internet needed a service like Cloudflare more than ever, our customers needed us more than ever and despite everything going on people still showed up and and and almost channeled that into okay let me help my customer let me help the Internet because they need us more than ever and I think that that I don't just feels really good I'm watching Ted Lasso right now that the new Apple series and just being on a team feels really good or if you're a golf master, you know, this weekend was the Ryder Cup, the one of the Gulf, and Rory McIlroy from Europe got really emotional at the end, just saying, being on a team feels so good, because I'm not usually on a team I usually an individual but this weekend I got to play as a team and it meant so much I think I think that's what's really neat about Cloudflare and our culture is we have this big mission to help build a better Internet with a group of people that really care about that, and with customers who value that, and there's, and it happens to also have a good business.
That is magical. It's so hard to replicate that you can get two of the three, it's really hard to get all three, and I think that we care about what we're doing with the people we like to do it with, and that there's a good business there, and you're doing something bigger than yourself.
It feels really good. So, we have just a little over eight minutes left and you know one of the things I always think about at this point in the birthday party is, you know, this is when you brought the cake and you got the you got the candles lit you know as you as you both step back now on our 11th birthday, and you step back to blow out the candles, what's your wish.
Oh, that's a good question. And whenever I say that I always, always criticize Thomas our CFO when I whenever on an earnings call he says that's a good question because it means that it means that you're stalling, which is exactly what I'm doing right now.
You know, I mean I guess I guess my wish would be that, you know, hopefully we have another 11 years that we can that we can do this and, and that we, you know, continue to be able to attract really great people and and deliver on everything that we're that we're doing in order to make the make the Internet better.
And, and I think that that's, you know, I think that what I worry about is that it feels a little bit like the first, you know, 25 the last 25 years that we've been through is a little bit like, you know, episode four and Star Wars, you know, a new hope the very, the very first one.
And we're headed into, and we're headed into, you know, episode five which is the Empire Strikes Back.
I think that, you know, what we're watching around the world, you know what's going on in Russia right now in terms of in terms of censoring the Internet what we're seeing in some countries where they literally will shut the Internet down at various times I think that the, the, the network itself has been such a disruptive force to so many institutions around the world that that I think that you're starting to see those institutions push back on it and sometimes in for good reasons, because again I think there's there's there's been real harm that's been caused by some apps.
But, but some other times it's it is, it looks increasingly like that institutions are pushing back just to sort of shut down the thing that has been so disruptive to them.
And so, you know, I think it's, it's incredibly important that those of us who, you know, do care about the Internet and do care about and do you think that it's, it is a, you know, something that is worth fighting for that we continue to do that.
So I think the next 11 years for the Internet as a whole, I think they're going to be a lot harder than than the last 11 years were.
But I think it's important that I guess my wish would be that that we all that we all fight for it and if I had to ask for, you know, one very small, you know, present.
I'd love the Associated Press to take back the guidance that you can make the Internet a lowercase I, because I didn't get it, you know, and that was in 2016 and if you think about what was sort of the turning point where, you know, the technology industry went from kind of being able to do no wrong to being able to right now it feels like to do no right.
I think that that you know that little thing, obviously wasn't the cause but it's a it's a demarcation of where things seem like they they shifted at some level.
And, and I do think that, you know, the, the Internet.
There should only be one, there shouldn't be many. And it is something that it's worth fighting for and so you know if you if you'll you'll see in every document we ever write we always capitalize the letter I and so my.
If I was asking for a birthday present from everyone that would be the little thing that I would ask everyone to do.
I think we lost Jen. Or maybe she was just so moved by what you said Matthew she like drop the mic and so, yeah, there we go.
What would be what would be your, your wish Michelle.
Yeah, no it's interesting I was listening to you talk obviously you're so passionate about it you can tell you're getting teared up about, about, about it.
You can see around corners much better than others.
I think that I'm a half glass full sort of person and so one wish I have is, I, I do think the Internet is this amazing innovation, and that what I really wish for is I want more people to appreciate that and participate in it, and for it to make their lives better because I think that the best way to over overcome some of the negative sentiment is that more people participating.
And so what does that mean.
I hope there are more entrepreneurs in their home countries, small cities around the world, every single country, building amazing businesses right where they are, and that they don't have to move to New York or San Francisco like I did I had to move to San Francisco to build my company and I hope next time they can stay home and do it.
And I think that that would help win more successful stories in each country around the world.
I think people will be much more see it more as a positive versus only a select few that that got to participate.
On the flip side I want all of our parents and our grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins to benefit from all these amazing innovations to online and I have a saying that, you know, when my mom starts to swap app tips with her friends, she's in her 70s.
That would be a good sign because it just becomes it's such an ubiquitous something we all are doing.
And I will say that I just spent a lot of time with my mom the last few months and she's way more tech savvy than I thought and which in a good way.
So I think that's happening and, and that lots of people's lives are better because they can read more more connected look up their favorite recipe whatever it is whatever whatever your hobby is a later in life and I think that's a good thing, where just more people benefiting from it so I guess that's my wish that there's, it's a very broad reaches very far and wide and something that people see as a positive in their life, not.
I wish it would go away in my life.
Well, thank you both for taking the time to chat today to help us kick off birthday week.
You know, I have to say it's it's an honor to be a part of what we do at club floor and in particular it's an honor to be a part of this tradition, but of course it is Monday so as Michelle likes to say when it comes to birthday week, you know, we are just getting started.
Lots of phenomenal innovations coming out this week, really to really help think about how we continue to help build a better Internet and how we continue to foster that dialogue with the broader community so thank you both for for founding Cloudflare thank you for the 11th birthday, and I look forward to what's to come over the week.
Thanks Jen really appreciate you, you taking the time to do this and I know, you know, everyone at Cloudflare there's just an enormous amount of work from from your team from from the engineering teams from from Dan's team which is our emerging technology incubation team that that that put into to make this all make this all happen and it can be, it's, it is a scramble to get it done and so I just wanted to say thank you to to all the teams that are pulling it off and and really really really really appreciate it.
It definitely is back to the best part of my job people I get to work with so it is a, it's a huge collective effort, and it feels good to be on a team with people who care so much and thanks so much for doing this it's, you know, you said thank you for us for for starting Cloudflare I mean, I think that I don't want to speak for Matthew but I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to be part of this, and it's really incredible what a group of people rolling in the same direction can accomplish.
All right, happy birthday. Happy birthday. Bye bye.