Originally aired on May 29 @ 8:30 AM - 9:00 AM EDT
Human-interest segment asking Cloudflare employees what their first Internet experience was and how it informed them joining Cloudflare. Dial-up modems, bulletin boards, punch-cards, Twitch, Twitter and more.
Good morning, good afternoon, or good night, everyone. Welcome to episode 15 of Dial Up Motive. On this show, we explore the early Internet and technology histories of some of the latest and greatest Cloudflare employees. With me today is Bruna Villalon from the Customer Development team. Good morning, Bruna. Welcome to the show. Good morning, Dan. Thank you. I appreciate it. I'm happy to be here. Well, great to have you. And would you mind giving a quick introduction for all of the viewers? Absolutely. So well, first of all, my name is Bruna. I work on the customer development. As you said, I've been here for about a month or so. I came from another big tech company. So I'm glad to be here. I'm glad to be making an impact on the Internet. And I'm very happy about my choice of coming here. Awesome. Glad to have you. And what kind of work are you doing on the customer development side? I focus on finding new customers, trying to find opportunities for the sales team, and just learning more about the sales process at Cloudflare. Great. And kind of using this as an opportunity to step back. I know when we chatted before this call, you know, it sounded like you had a very interesting history with the Internet, and particularly from your home country. Would you mind going into detail about that? Yes, I think it's very important to point that out. I came from Brazil about five years ago, you know, born and raised Brazilian. And being a late millennial, early Gen Z, I ended up actually growing up with the Internet. I remember being, you know, four or five and having to dial up so I can access DisneyChannel.com so I can play my games. And then being, you know, in middle school and using the MSN Messenger to talk to my friends after school. I remember actually, my first boyfriend asked me to be his girlfriend through MSN. So just the impact that my generation felt with it, I think it's unheard of. I had, I remember teaching my grandparents how to use the Internet and how to connect and learning how to do Google and all that. So is that more intimate or less intimate than like the folded notes? Because that was my generation, we still folded notes, like, will you be my girlfriend? You can, in MSN, you can press a button and your screen would shake if you didn't get enough attention. So I think it's a little more intimate, you can trickle them a little bit more. So yeah, it's interesting chatting with someone that, you know, had the Internet part of their life much earlier. And as such as part of your social interaction from the very beginning. Was that unique to your life in Brazil? Or was that more common? Well, my dad was an engineer, he was a mechanical engineer. So he was very privileged that we could have Internet in at home. That wasn't really a thing for most families. Still is not a big thing for most families in third world countries, including Brazil. But we were very fortunate that we could have phones since you know, I was seven or eight. And we could have Internet at home, I could do work at home. I remember I used to play soccer and I broke my hands more time that I can count. And instead of not doing homework, I could just type up my homework and print it and just turn it in. Which wasn't a thing, you know, back when I'm in the early 2000s, no one was typing up their homework and turning it in. Now, were you a goalie breaking your hands or? No, I was a forward. I don't know how I broke my hand. My understanding of soccer, you're not supposed to be using those. You're not supposed to be using those. I was just a little bit more aggressive than you're supposed to. And, and with that kind of history or having access to technology early, what kind of advantage do you think that gave you either to your peers or to your social group as you were learning and growing up? I think they gave me a personal advantage in terms that, you know, if I didn't understand a concept on the book, I could just go ahead and look it up. Not many people could do that. I didn't have to look at a word in the dictionary. I don't think we ever owned a dictionary. We could just, you know, looked it up. And that's kind of unique for not only my family, but unique for the generation. You know, I remember having to do homework at my grandparents' house and they talking about how they used to own encyclopedias everywhere. And I've never seen an encyclopedia. Yeah. And then just having Internet access really privileged me in a way that allowed me to come to the United States and come get an international education because I had access to the Internet. Okay, could you double click on that a little bit? Basically, I was in high school. My plan was to go study somewhere in Brazil. I didn't really have a plan. I was applying for colleges, seeing where I land. And I remember just accidentally ended up on my high school Internet page and seeing that they were doing, seeing about their scholarships that they would bring students to the United States to Austin, Texas on a full ride for, you know, if you qualified, if you were a good representation of the values of the school. And I don't think it was a very hard opportunity. Because again, people don't really, you know, people are not accessing the Internet as much. And let alone the website of your high school. Yeah, exactly. Not well trafficked. Exactly. Not even for the students. So I end up seeing there that I would have the chance of applying. And I'll have to have a sit down with my principal and nothing, you know, sounded too scary for me. So when I had I applied online, I never seen my school before I came here. It was all through YouTube, seeing the videos of what Austin is like, and just reading articles about my school. And it sounded like a good decision. So I just applied, got accepted, got my full ride of scholarship. And I came here three months ago after I applied. That's fascinating. So essentially, the Internet allowed you to go to college, allowed you to, you know, come to the States. And without that accessibility, or without, you know, your previous knowledge, surfing around, you wouldn't have even been aware of the opportunity or been able to apply. Fascinating. And to kind of get to that point, what was some of your earliest interactions with technology? I think you mentioned you did have access to one of the brick mobile phones growing up? Or what did that look like that kind of prepare you for surfing the net and getting to college? I feel like just having that early access, since you know, I was so little, that kind of shaped my skills and allow me to know how to use and how to use safely. So you know, we used to have one of those old brick phones that all you can do is play snake on it. But I would have one of his employees picking me up, I could call my dad and make sure that you know, that was the right person I was getting in the car with. Or I could learn you know, what websites to go to, what to download off the Internet, what wasn't safe. And just being able to have that education early on really allowed me to be able to shape my skills in the future. And do you feel that there was a benefit to having your social life already on the Internet as you were growing up? So being able to continue to talk with students when school was done, to interact with them in that way? What kind of benefit do you think that had, especially going into the customer development field? I do feel like that shaped my online communication skills. You know, since so early, I could already text, I could already type, you know, with my friends, I could kind of shape those social skills online. We could do video calls since I was seven. So we kind of knew like, a little bit of the etiquette of it. And then as you go, you know, using more and more in a professional setting, you kind of just shape those skills to grow with it. And, and in your time, do you think there was ever a boundary between kind of using a desktop computer, using a laptop and using a mobile phone or had that blurred at that stage for you? I think it was too early for even my parents to understand the impact. So see, you know, some of the kids that I've worked with now, they have boundaries. Back then, my parents didn't really understand the consequences or kind of what it entailed. So it was very blurry. You know, we were always talking to, you know, we're always on the computer. And then once you have a laptop, you can actually sit somewhere else away from your parents and talk to other people. And it kind of, I had to figure out the boundaries by myself. And I think it's something very particular for my generation, you know, the not so quite a millennial, but not so quite a Gen Z, we kind of have free reign. There was no one kind of stopping us to do anything. Our parents were also learning how to do emails. And at the same time that I was, so there was not really a teacher, we had to teach ourselves. So, so no one, no one quite realized how much power they were bringing into the living room with with the Internet for both finding information, connecting with other people. And so to brave what was the wild, wild west in many ways. And I did that with my parents and my peers. And do you think that, you know, allows you to connect around those technical conversations more easily in your day to day career today? Or, you know, even growing up and through college? I think I can relate better. Because, you know, the my customers were also in braving the Internet basically at the same time as I was, and so were my peers. I feel like I'm, I'm privileged enough that I had that early on access that I can relate to the same experiences as my customers, especially my customers in Brazil. They're also still figuring out the boundaries of the Internet and on what's Internet security. And that's how Cloudflare has been helping them is by showing them what security should be. And given, given kind of the wild, wild west, did you run into any dangers or any surprises, you know, as you were, you're making your way both, as mentioned, you know, getting asked out via MSN? Or did you then break up with him via MSN? What did I actually did. things look like? I actually did. We broke up through MSN. And I think I've broken more computers that I would like to say, just by downloading, you know, music, and it wasn't music. And I think I've corrupted more files from my dad's work than he would like to know. Is he watching today? Should he be be warned? Like, yeah, I'm a little worried about the text. I'm gonna get in about five minutes. Yes. Okay. Like, oh, you were the one that caused me to need to, you know, refresh the computer. A lot of his work that needed his computer to be rolling, you know, 24 seven. So he could, you know, download a file, connect something to his work. And I remember if I was mad at him, I would go to the electrical box in the house and just turn it off and turn it on real quick. And then it wasn't my fault, the light is blank. But then all his work would be a little ended. Wow, this is devious. And I have I have two young daughters. So now I'm now I'm worried, you know, what this will be turned into over in the next two decades. If we knew that his computer was rolling, and if we knew there was something super important, we knew we had power. Or I'll try not to make them mad. This is what try my best not to annoy my daughter. So, so given, given that, you know, sense of access to information, the ability to have a social life. And then that's a fascinating story, you know, kind of trying to find ways to annoy your father, if you're upset at him by attacking the computer and the Internet. What do you, I guess, look forward to, or what was life in college like coming in with that experience? Did you explore kind of the engineering route or any of those classes when you were in school? Um, I did, we were all required to take statistics class. And this is we did discuss, you know, how some programs allow you to be a better worker. And we were also required to take um, it was called computer kind of computer skills. And you would just learn about, you know, the basic Excel formulas, how to use Excel. If you're doing a sales call, what are some of the tools you could use. So I do think that that benefited me. But I can never see myself doing my dad's work. So I never really went through an engineer route. I'm too much of a people person. I love talking. I love hearing myself talk. So I always knew I have to be, you know, the customer related environment. And if anything, given your, your background, the ability to bridge kind of that gap between those that that have kind of technical knowledge and those that do not, or they're trying to find a technical solution. Is it an amazing skill in its own right? It is. And you can apply that to my job so easily. You know, I can have a call with a director from a company in Brazil and he doesn't need to have the knowledge. That's why he has an IT team for. However, if he's going to purchase something from us, he's going to be the decision maker. So he needs to understand the basis of our solutions and the basis of his issue. So it's very good to be able to translate, you know, all the technical words into real words that people can actually relate to. Or if not just translating to kind of the language, moving it to business outcomes. Because, because at the end of the day, that that customer might not care what color the hammer is. He just has a nail that he needs to get, get put In. He needs to build the, the fort or the cabin. But what hammer he uses is less And I do see as my role as you know, a customer experience. My role is to not only be able to explain, but also teach them something. Teach about how we're helping them. Teach about their problem that they might not even know or the issues that they might face in the future. It's just good to have that that knowledge. And when you were graduating from college, was it essentially secondhand at that point to use the Internet to search for jobs or what was your experience like when when coming out of school? I don't think I've ever turned like I don't think I ever printed my own resume. So answering that, yes. I'm coming out of college, you know, it was just tweaking my resume on Word and finding ways I could sound better to my employer and, you know, having so many zoom interviews. I think that was something very particular I went to, I don't even think I went to any, you know, face to face interview. It was beginning a pandemic. So it was already everything online, everything very, you know, I don't have to wear pants, just wear a nice top, put on some makeup and we're all good. So that's why you were so comfortable during all your interviews, I'm sure. Exactly. It builds up, it builds up the comfort. So, and that's fascinating, both, you know, the, the, what the Internet has allowed today, and then we're combined with quarantine procedures to still be able to interview to go through The job process in a paperless fashion in a completely online fashion, but still make those connections with people for them to say, yeah, you're going to be a great hire and great addition. Come on board. So that Ability, you know, brought to you us by by the Internet as it is today. It's just fascinating. To be able to have It's the first time that people can do this. It's the first time that we have the chance of actually seeing each other across, you know, the globe. It's incredible that I can make a phone call with my computer to somewhere across the globe and they would hear me as well as they would if I was right here. You know, phone connection, no dialing up noises. It's just, it's just so easy. And if anything, what's interesting is to your point of never printing out your resume. I remember back in back in my day in undergrad of the conversation between whether you actually need resume paper, which is a little bit thicker and like You know that that's a difference when you're adding it to the pile of resumes from all the other students and you know the logistics around that versus, oh no, no, just upload your, your PDF and we're good. You know, we have your resume. We're going to make you retype it on our website. Exactly. And I think it's we still have the, you know, thickness of paper. But I feel like it changed a little bit. It's all about the font, you're going to use. And are you going to put common here. Are you going to make the column pretty if you're going for, you know, a designing Your resume need to show the design skills you have. If you're going for sales, you got the language and you know that part hasn't changed. But the way that we just send it in really has. And that affects us. I've seen, you know, friends that went for marketing and their resumes had colors in it. Mine was just black and white pretty words. No, I remember. I think I started doing at least my name in a color. I'm like, I wanted to stand out a little like a little bit of a design designer in me. So I'm like, okay, let's let's let's make them make my name blue and we'll be good. I think I have a really big be online. It takes half the page. It's something to stand out, especially like From now having the perspective of a high of a hiring manager when you're going through so many resumes, you know, sometimes standing out is great. And sometimes you're like, okay, this, this person tried a little too hard. Let's move on. I had a conversation with one of my friends this weekend. His company is hiring and someone decided someone just graduated college, but they decided to include on their resume that they were prom king. And that all their, their high school all American and all that. And we're in mind you he is applying for an engineering position. So very important. I mean, that's good. He's still popular So with all that in mind, kind of pivoting forward looking. What are you most excited about for the future of the Internet, either generally or for some of the things that are happening here at Cloudflare I think I'm very passionate just coming from a third world country, you do become very passionate about making the Internet more accessible. It's the first time ever that we have the chance to actually have Internet at home and have safe Internet at home. I think it's, it's just amazing that Cloudflare can help not only the world, but help you know customers to do that, to be able to have cheap free services in their computers in their personal computers, you don't have to be driving, you know, hours for a computer lab. Especially in Brazil, where no one has a car, you're taking the bus, you're taking the subway, you're taking whatever you can So you don't, you know, if you have a job, you don't have to be driving back and forth. You can do whatever you need to get done. You can access those Really heavy applications that you won't be able to access, you know, in school, you can access from your personal laptop now and I'm very passionate about that. Now we're Internet cafes common in Brazilian culture. Not really, like you have, you go to Starbucks with your friends. That's what you do in high school. That's the place you hang, but you don't really use the Internet. You really go to a computer lab, you know, either at school or just around your block, things like that. But even then, you have to pay for them. Even at school, sometimes you have to pay for them. Interesting. So was that An interesting switch when you went from computer labs that you potentially had to pay for to especially college where there's often swaths of computer labs, they're all free and accessible with your student ID. I remember seeing for the first time, and I'm not kidding. For the first time, those big Mac computers just rows of them. I was mind blown by the fact that someone could afford rows of Mac books. We don't have, you know, expensive computers there. We just have the cheapest one you can possibly get. And as long as it does the work, it works for us. And then just seeing here how the culture makes it more accessible. The culture makes computers just, you know, part of your life. Just seeing that was really so shocking. And now with, you know, mobile devices, essentially being a supercomputer in everyone's pocket and that leading to The development of countries, you know, skipping landlines entirely going straight to mobile. I guess, what do you see as the future of Mobile development or usage when people are still connecting to the Internet or, you know, especially sharing videos and on doing so much of their lives via their phone now. I think the US doesn't see this as much, but the rest of the world. WhatsApp is the number one app to make calls to text because you don't have to be charged for You know how many texts are sending how many calls you're making, because that's still a thing in most countries, you have a limit of minutes per day in a minute of text per month. So just the WhatsApp bringing the chance of Not putting a limit just being able to talk just be able to connect. I call my, my family from Brazil, almost every day using WhatsApp and we can see each other. They don't have an additional charge. I don't have an additional charge and they just really changed the way that we relate Yeah. And again, to that point of being able to bring people together via technology. It's slowly becoming cheaper over time, both removing boundaries, removing cost and financial boundaries, adding to that accessibility for everyone around the globe. Leads in my mind to more interesting conversations and just more interesting developments of what can be built together on top of on the solutions. It definitely does. And, you know, we talked a lot about the double edged sword that social media is what we have to understand that it's just no part of our lives. Now, now is finding ways to use it more productively finding ways to see the difference between Again, not for not for not for my daughters. They're never going to be allowed Any of these things. Wait until you find out if they already have one. Well, we'll see. We'll see. They're, they're still on the learning to walk phase. So we'll worry about their TikTok accounts later. I remember that it was kind of a rite of passage. Once you turn 12 or 13 you can make a Facebook page legally. So that's why you do That's interesting to have that like that is one of the gatekeepers to becoming an adult is like, well, now I have a Facebook. So now It is And, you know, now people can see more in just seeing how tick tock made kids become billionaires and the option of having that It's pretty impressive. It's pretty impressive to think that this is part of our lives now. Yeah, and it'll be interesting to see what the next wave is now that you're sharing video is as seamless as it is editing video on your phone is as seamless as it is what the next, next steps of that will be And I'm sure you remember this to, you know, back growing up. If you wanted to record something you needed those old school cameras. They had to switch a little screen and you'll be watching through the screen. And now we have a camera so much better than that on our phones with us 24 seven. It's just, it's just crazy to think about that. But just a few years ago, you needed that monster. And now you have that Yeah, like, again, everything Is getting smaller, faster, cheaper, better until the point. What are your thoughts on I guess the neural interfaces and we're getting our devices. We're just going to wear them as either glasses or plugged into our temple. What are your thoughts there. We used to dream about that. I used to be the goal. I remember there was a TV show that the super smart kid would have it on his glasses. And that used to be our dream just be able to like take a test and just use that. And now I'll admit it. I've cheated with my Apple Watch before. And I'll ask my boyfriend to just text me a few words during the text and I'll just be like, Oh, my text. So, so again, yeah, the the accessibility, being able to bring that to a wearable or this would be leaps and bounds, not to mention those that Might have difficulty using a keyboard or using speech speech to text or other technologies. So yeah, fascinating to see that that's likely where we're going and Many of those dreams are implanted via watching a TV show a science fiction show. And I think I remember something similar, but it was, you know, a few decades ago. So I was just excited for like a mobile phone with a huge screen. Few shows that had that I'm like, Oh, that I want one of those I don't, I don't mean I'm not doing much on the Internet, but that looks amazing. And so to have that progression is something to be excited about. I remember in all of us. It was part of your culture to remember watching High School Musical and they have the cool phone where you could type Like, oh my god, you can actually type with your fingers. That was just such an amazing thing for us. And then, then here we are. Oh yeah, I have I had to unlearn T nine word. For typing, typing out letters and words. I think we learned this in about, you know, middle school, you realize who are the people who grew up with phones because they type of their thumbs or the people who didn't which types of like they're Big fingers and they're like, that was a big difference for us. We could literally see how our parents would be, you know, holding and typing and we would just be using our thumbs. Interesting. So yeah, to have those markers based off of when you were raised with technology versus not. And who knows how that will continue to to evolve. I keep thinking about this. Like, what are my kids are going to see and be like, oh, so old. Like, what am I going to do. They're going to make my kids to embarrass Anything as small as monitors have been getting, you know, you remember going to that computer lab and all these monitors are just gigantic He's now they're flat. If at some point they're just on a glasses. If Google ever masters their, their little glasses technology that might be the thing like, oh, you guys were looking at screens. Why would you ever need monitor and that will just continue to disappear. And it's crazy to think that. And it's really interesting to see, is it going to be a world thing is the entire world going to have access to that, you know, are the cheap communities in Brazil and Latin America. Going to have access to the newest technology because we still it's hard for us to see people who actually own laptops. It's hard for you to see people who have and not as in common anymore, but they have Wi Fi at home. Well, it's interesting to see the pace. Well, if Cloudflare has its way. The answer is hopefully, yes, we'll have all these serverless applications that are running at the edge and they'll be able to be, you know, cheap and efficient and allow access for everyone. And that's what makes me excited about the Cloudflare work is the fact that it's accessible. And with that, we're nearing the end of time. So, Bruna, thank you for for taking us down this nostalgic journey through through MSN and, you know, messing with your father. If you turn power on and off. Again, thank you for for joining us. Thank you, Dan. I appreciate the time. All right. And for everyone catching the live stream or one of the recordings. Have a great morning, afternoon or good night.