We are Cloudflare
Meet all the people who make up the Cloudflare team from all offices, all teams, all levels, in as many languages as possible.
Hi, this is Chaat Butsunturn and I'm your host with We Are Cloudflare, a segment that I've been doing twice weekly, where I have Q&As with different people from around the organization.
Everybody, you know, there are public faces to Cloudflare, and I'm finding the other people behind the scenes that make Cloudflare what it is.
Today's guest, Tim Cloonan. Hi, Tim, how are you? I'm doing really well, Chaat.
How's it going? Good, good. We've met a couple of times in the office back in San Francisco.
And here we are in our home offices. And well, for me, it's Oakland, California.
Where are you? Well, we just met in Oakland then. And Tim's part of the, you lead the community.
Could you describe what exactly is the Cloudflare community?
Sure. So the community lives at community.Cloudflare .com.
And all of our customers are welcome to join the community. And it is primarily a self-help portal where customers go and find out tips and tricks about using Cloudflare.
If they have a particular problem, we work with them to resolve any issues that they may have.
So in some ways, it's an alternative to contacting customer support.
In some ways, it's a way of finding out what's going on around Cloudflare outside of support issues.
Right. Do you, are you automatic, are customers automatically enrolled or do they join the community?
No, they need to join the community.
So you just go to community.Cloudflare.com and join. Once you do that, it's a single sign on that's attached to your Cloudflare account.
We have about, there's about 100,000 members in the community today.
And we grow at several, several thousand in a month.
So it's quite an active place in terms of the number of people that are coming in to visit.
I bet. I mean, so Cloudflare, we have somewhere around 26 million, 28 million web properties on Cloudflare.
You know, if you consider, I think it's a safe bet to say we've got 20 million plus customers.
And so I could imagine that community is growing every day. And we've got room to grow, which is the nice piece, right?
There's a lot of headroom in terms of people that can come in.
From the people that are members, those are people that are coming in saying, you know, I'm Tim and I want to be part of this community.
And I may or I may not ask questions or I may or I may not answer other people's questions.
There are about 10 times the number of customers that actually visit the site every day that are taking information and not actually contributing or joining the community actively.
So you can benefit from it without actually being a member.
I see. I see. And I imagine some people are more active than others.
We have a lot of people that are more active than others. I would say probably at the top 100 folks, you're dealing with very, very active people.
At the top dozen people, you're dealing with people that spend as much time in the Cloudflare community as we probably spend with our families.
It's quite amazing.
Wow. All right. So what is your role as the community, you know, I think of you the community guy, but I don't actually know your title or actual role.
It's community manager is the title and the role. It's a bit of a misnomer and it was highlighted to me at one point early in my role or in my journey through community management.
The communities don't need to be managed. And I realized that when I was with an organization, we had developed a set of services around community management and did that we actually called the service community development management.
It's kind of an awkward set of words, but it more precisely described what I do.
I don't manage a community. People, they don't need to be managed.
I manage the development of it. And what I'm concerned about is that it's growing Aggressively is always a good thing, I think, because you get lots of contributions that it's growing fairly that we don't have certain voices crowding out other voices so that there's Some level of meritocracy that's involved in that you answer questions right and you contribute to the community and you keep on growing and advancing through the community you You're abusive.
We asked you not to come back and In our community.
We don't have problems with that.
I mean, it's, it's a nice friendly community focused on getting stuff done. How long has the community been around.
It's been around for it predates me. I've been at Cloudflare for two years and it predates me about a year and a half.
Really started to hit the growth about three years ago.
Okay, so what did you would what's pre cauliflower for for Tim Clooney.
Well, where did you come from, where did, where did we get you So I joined Cloudflare from visa and And loved it.
I think it was a just a fantastic organization, a fantastic company. I joined Cloudflare with Similar expectations in terms of a fantastic company and a fantastic organization, but also just the types of things that we do.
I thought were really, really interesting and I've worked with communities for for a dozen years or more have a background in product marketing and product management sales.
Management and community really brings all of those things together.
When I first started with community dozen years ago, I was like, I don't want to do anything ever for the rest of my career like this is this is happiness.
You hit the goldmine right Especially community like this.
Hmm. Yeah, I know. It's a Cloudflare mission driven organization.
I think people are part of the community buy into that. Yeah, yeah, and it just the energy is just fantastic to see So when you joined.
I love asking this question.
Do you remember what your fun fact was to I do is it was incredibly embarrassing.
Let's hear it. So the best fun fact is that my wife knew how much I wanted to go to work for Cloudflare and all that I was speaking with she knew that that was the position that I was really most interested in and most intimidated by And as a good luck charm the Cloudflare t shirt that I was given on one of my interviews, she decided that she would wear it every night as good luck to make certain that I got the job.
Sadly Cloudflare took a few weeks to get the offer.
So we had to, I had to sneak that shirt into be washed a few Right. So if you had to come up with another fun fact you got a new one in mind.
Well, so the new one is that and it's actually kind of go back to the, the original one, which was a Cloudflare has a we have our weekly meetings.
At our I have your frozen. I don't know if I have my audience is also seeing your frozen or if it's me, but I'm very curious about what your fun facts going to be.
It looks like my, my Internet connection.
It was unstable there. Sorry, I totally missed your fun fact. Into Oakland.
The, the, the best fun fact is that when I when I got really tired of working in the tech industry with all sorts of really smart and intelligent people Before I found Cloudflare I decided to drop out and put all of my energy into opening a beer brewery.
Oh, really. The best part about the beer brewery and it comes full circle to the other.
The other fun fact is that is because of the brewery that I met my wife.
So about that. How about that. Facts do have a tie together. They just take a bit of time.
Right, right. Yeah, yeah breweries are there are everywhere.
There's one down. Yeah, I think where I live in Oakland, there are probably at least a half dozen tap rooms within a mile.
Yeah, it's, it's, it's a thing.
This was 1997 and I anticipated that we needed better beer than Budweiser and Ahead of the curve ahead of the curve.
Tim, is there a particular project that you're excited to be working on.
I mean the community in and of itself. Is it kind of a different thing every day.
But I look at it. One of the things that I'm just incredibly excited about is we have a lot of ties in with our customer support organization.
And that we've done a lot of integration with the help resources and our help center with the cloud.
With the asset that we have both in our help center within our customer support team and in the community providing self support.
Have these integration points where they begin to tie together.
And for me, that's just incredibly fascinating because it gives us the ability to use the community to deliver higher and higher levels of support for all of our customers and I've worked with communities for well over a dozen years.
And this is kind of the most interesting thing in terms of the operations and the infrastructure that I've seen on any of the communities.
Mm hmm. Yeah, I think I was thinking about the community.
Other thing that probably makes it exciting is that cloud third continues to roll out new products and expand and so the the breadth of things that you got to cover is constant and you're always on a learning curve.
Yeah, we're always challenged and it's it's fun. And because of that, right, we get to go very, very wide, but then we also have to go very deep.
And our areas of expertise don't cover just how do you fix something when it's broken.
But is this the right certificate that I need to achieve this goal.
Or is this level that's going to give me the performance that I want to achieve my goal.
And so we get involved in cutting the aspects of customer success in terms of scoping the solutions.
Does let us actually kind of interact with our customers at a whole bunch of different levels which is Right, right.
Yeah, probably the product teams as well.
But the product gets ideas from their customer support learns how to how to help people even better from there.
Right, right. Yeah, I'm actually on Thursday going to have a someone from our technical support engineering team out here to join me and talk about what they do.
Hey, Daniel. Before I switch to Daniel, Tim.
One last thing you have a show. You want to give it a plug. Yes, absolutely.
Catch us on Fridays at 10 Pacific time for yesterday, today on the clubs, our community and we talked about the hot subjects that are going on.
We'll do a deep dive into a particular issue that's causing people some problems and fun show.
It's very interactive. We get a lot of questions. Appreciate that, Tim. Thanks for joining.
Thank you, Jeff. Take care. All right, we'll see ya. All right. And my next guest, Daniel Stinson Dease.
Did I pronounce that correctly? Dease? Yeah, perfect.
You got it right. Great. And so Daniel is with our security team. He's a security engineer with the detection and response.
Yep, exactly. Right.
And the way I met Daniel is actually so we're in a cybersecurity company and even the security company people need security.
And I was having a bug with one of my one of my Chrome extensions.
And so I've reported it and Daniel was the one to respond.
I was like, Oh, this is how this is how it works in the background.
So what what is what's your role, Daniel? How's your organization?
You're part of the organization work. Yeah, so I'm a I'm a security engineer on the detection and response team.
So our team's kind of responsible for responding to any kind of security threats that like are weird things that people notice from inside the company.
And they'll email it to one mailing list and we'll whoever's on call that week, which was me last week when you emailed me, we'll take a look at it and see like what's going on and how we can help.
So that's kind of we're like the first line of like response. And we were trying to be available as quickly as we can to kind of help respond to these kind of security issues.
On top of that, the other half of what we do is we kind of spend time like building systems and tooling to help us respond faster and detect things that people don't report to us because sometimes I mean, the goal for us is we want to catch things before people notice it themselves.
So we try to build tools and systems that help us catch all these weird things and then also make sure that we're ready to respond to weird things like with what you reported last week.
Right. So how big the company's continuing to grow? Is your team also growing then?
Yeah, yeah. So our team's primarily been based out of the United States and so mostly the San Francisco office growing to Austin.
And we have one team member in Lisbon and we're hiring more.
So we're trying to go global there in that sense.
And then we'll also be going to Singapore shortly. That way we're kind of following the sun.
And we have someone in every time zone kind of like how our SRE team does.
Yeah, right. Yeah. Global organization, you know, and someone's got to be up.
You know, I imagine that right now it's kind of odd hours for everybody.
Yeah, like you wake up with seven or eight reports to our security mailing list.
And so in the morning, it'd be helpful to kind of have people in other time zones.
So we're doing that rapidly now. So I imagine these things could be like mine was a Chrome extension, but you probably get like, oh, I got this phishing email, check it out.
And other types of things that Yeah, yeah, it's like they're super fun stuff.
I think my favorite part is like when someone gets something they don't think is weird at all.
Like, it's like, hey, I think this is like a nothing like a spam email.
And it turns out like the unsubscribed link or something is like going to some weird downloader.
And it's like, it's like, sometimes it's like they're fun gotchas like that.
And it's kind of fun for me to spend time like digging into it more and kind of like seeing like, is this special to do like someone targeting just our Cloudflare employees?
Or is this like something the whole Internet seeing and like, we're just like one of like the 20 people targeted.
So it's, it can get really fun. So you're part, you're part first responder, part investigative, like detective guy, and then part toolmaker, I guess, where you're looking for the tools to make these systems more secure.
So there's that. If you get bored of one of the many hats kind of our team gets to wear, you get to switch them quickly.
How did you get into it? Yeah, so I, Cloudflare is actually my first job.
So it's like, it's a super awesome first place to be at.
But before this, I had an internship at a power utility in Southern California doing security work for them.
So it's kind of fun because it's like, I mean, if that if that the big project we were working on while I was there is they're trying to bring like IP addressing and making the power grade IP addressable, which is like kind of like a huge security risk.
And so we were kind of, I was like, doing security, like almost my same job I'm doing here, but doing it there.
So that's kind of where I got my first experience.
Oh, interesting. Yeah, yeah. So you were doing IP security at the, at the utility.
Now, what do they have IPs for?
Is it stuff like, you know, the smart meters and all? Exactly. Yeah. Because traditionally, it's like people, like the power company generates electricity and sends it out to, to people's homes.
But when people start putting solar panels on their roof, now it needs to be bidirectional, and figure out how it's all going to flow.
And so you need to actually send data over their network, too. So it's kind of, I was there as they're trying to figure out that modernization piece.
Wow, that's interesting.
Right. And then you then you came here. Right. So how long you've been with the Cloudflare team now?
I am about 11 months. So in about one more month, I'll be my first year.
It's been fun. Yeah. Do you remember your, your fun fact?
Yeah. So... Grown. I sense a grown. No, it was fun. It was my first job kind of through high school and through college as well, is I would help out my dad since he's a benefit auctioneer.
And he would kind of raise money for nonprofits. And so my fun fact was, I went to an auction school in this small little town in Iowa, where it's like to get there, I tried to take like a six person prop plane on like from like an hour and kind of the small little farm town was kind of super fun and did auctioneering.
So you like literally like, you know, those, those cattle auctions or hog auctions?
Yeah. So most people there were like cattle auctioneers and had like backgrounds doing that.
Whereas like my dad and I are usually doing like fundraising events for like nonprofits.
So like, we've sold like silly things like a parking spot at like an elementary school.
Oh, yeah. But the live auctions, you know, people get, you know, they always have it like after dinner when people had a couple of...
A little buzz. Oh, yeah. They're feeling that progenitor, right?
Yeah, it's like, it's a risky thing. Because if you do an open bar, I mean, you're going to get more money.
But then after the night, it's over, people are gonna be like, wait, I spent that much and they're gonna be contesting their bill.
So it's a fun... $10,000 parking spot. There you have it.
Right? Yeah. So are there particular projects that you're stoked to work on?
Yeah. So like I was mentioning earlier, it's like, super fun for me to kind of do those investigations into like the weird things that people see.
But outside of that, my probably my favorite project is building this pipeline for us to detect stuff.
Like, sure, there's other companies that kind of like build systems you can just like pay for like one, there's a few like large vendors in the space.
I mean, there's other open source solutions where you can like deploy this like log analysis, like system like an elk stack.
But kind of like, like when I joined my team's kind of principles where it's like, we're not gonna pay for expensive vendors, and we're not going to like, have to manage servers ourself.
So we're kind of building like a serverless detection response pipeline trying to make it so that we don't have to spend time like doing the maintenance as much and it's still super performant.
And so that's kind of a super fun engineering project. Yeah, that's always part of the question, right?
I mean, do you do you buy or do you build?
And it sounds like for a lot of what you're doing, you build. And do you think that comes from we have unique use case?
Or does it come from the highly sensitive nature of what you're doing that you want to build it versus buy it?
What's the onus on why we choose to build?
Yeah, I think Cloudflare is big on like building across like every part of the organization.
For our team, I think a big factor was definitely the cost, like for some of the bigger like market leading solutions, like it would with how much data we're getting from our over 200 edge locations, like getting all of that back, like, is going to be like an enormous built into the month.
And so kind of by doing this ourselves, we can make it like a lot cheaper, which is what, which is kind of like our main reason.
Right, right, right.
Yeah. Not to mention, I think it gives you something unique to work on, like, yeah, building, right, rather than just using things, I think there's a creative process, you get to exercise on that.
You know, and I imagine, you know, creativity is a pretty core element of the job, because you have to be curious in terms of figuring out what is the source of this problem.
Yeah, exactly. So it's, it's, it takes a different mindset.
And it's been super fun to actually like, because previously, like the power utility, since it's like a heavily regulated industry, it was less of a chance to kind of build things.
And it's like, okay, you have to pay for like the market leading solution.
So it's been a fun shift.
Right, right. Wow, that's interesting. Well, I'm waiting on my next guest, Zen.
And here he is. Hello, Zen. Hi, how are you? Yeah. All right. Well, Daniel, really, thank you so much for your time.
But more than anything, I really appreciate your fixing my laptop.
Yeah, it's nice talking to you. Have a great day, man.
All right, we'll catch you soon. See you. Ciao. Zen. Matt, how are you? Hey, my friend.
Doing well. Doing well. Thanks a lot. Well, thanks for joining. A little background.
Zen worked, he's currently with the special projects team. But when he first joined the company, I worked with him in the business development group.
So, which is often like the farm team for the rest of the company. And you're the one that went to special projects.
And I always kind of think of special projects is like X files.
Can you even talk about what you do? Do I have to say something?
Thanks for joining. Yeah, of course. It's great to be here. I feel like I don't have a cool background like you do.
I mean, shame on me. I should get that as the next one.
I love our lava lamps. Oh, yeah. Actually, I got this from Carrie Linder.
She's our designer. She was one of my first interviewers. So, I'll send you the file for this.
Yeah, please do. In my next segments, I'll be much cooler than what I have in my back right now.
There you go. So, what is special projects?
Yeah, at its core, it's really corporate development and business development.
And in those two buckets, I can give some examples. The corporate development side of things is standard M&A and market research.
So, earlier this year, we announced the acquisition of S2, which was led by some folks on my team, which falls into that bucket.
And then the second is really business development. And that is from the lens of technology partnerships or more broader partnerships like our China initiatives, which we have a separate team that works on that as well.
So, how big is your team? Yeah, we are about 20 people, I believe. I might be rounding up and plus or minus one or two.
Are they all in San Francisco or is this around the world now?
Yeah, it's around the world. Majority in San Francisco, but then we have a few folks.
We have one person in New York holding it down and then a few people in London.
And then the rest is kind of spread across APAC between Singapore and China.
Right, right, right. Yeah. So, you'd mentioned the S2 acquisition.
So, some of what you're looking at are things that fit within the product roadmap.
Where does your charter come from? Your mission, how is it tied into the broader Cloudflare for mission?
Yeah, and I probably can't speak to the S2 as much because I know that's handled by a separate part of our team, but I can speak about what we do on the technology partnership side.
The two examples of that is the Bandwidth Alliance and our analytics partnership program and those partners being Sumo Logic, Splunk.
But let me start first with the Bandwidth Alliance, which we launched in 2018.
I think it was the last Friday of birthday week for Cloudflare.
And we got together. Yeah, it was a fun announcement. And it was kind of, first of its kind, it still is in many ways.
And we got together as many cloud providers and we said that we shouldn't tax customers for having the optionality to use who they want as their cloud provider.
As we continue not to tax them, we should also make sure that they're not locked into one provider, which we're currently seeing these days.
So, then we launched with a handful of partners saying, if you use Cloudflare and Backblaze or Wasabi or Packet, etc., you will not be charged for data transfer in between each other's platforms.
And that's been helping many customers as well as they start to build out their infrastructure.
And as costs can be very high, it's one thing that we can help with and eliminate.
And the second was our analytics partnership program, which launched in 2019.
And that was simply, we've had this request where customers would like to see some more enhanced integrations with Cloudflare logs and these platforms.
So, we set out to build all these dashboards that are packaged as an app and in our partner's ecosystem.
This way, customers can get in Cloudflare logs and then have more granular insight into their data.
Yeah, I could see where that latter one sounds like it was maybe a pull in that the customers were saying like, we'd like to see this.
Whereas the first one, I mean, who doesn't love more flexibility and less cost, right?
But that was a particularly innovative one.
And I thought that was the Cloudflare network, right, which is pretty massive.
We're in over 200 cities. And if I correct me if I'm wrong, or if I'm mistaken, one of the things that facilitates the bandwidth alliance is that we are in so many of the same locations as these partners anyway.
So, we can just like walk over and plug something in directly rather than having a long haul thing where that egress really is a cost center.
Yeah, yeah. And exactly the way we structured it with some of these partners is exactly to your point where we're in the same colos and connecting to each other's network to an extent would help us alleviate some of the costs for the end customers.
Hmm, right. Yeah, I remember when the logs, the analytics partnerships came out.
I think that was one of your first projects on special projects.
Is that right? Yeah, it was one of the first ones that I had the pleasure to work with a few folks on my team and kind of come on to that from the inception.
But our team really, really drove that through. So, it was fun to work with the team, but also more importantly, with the partners across and then push to the outcome of the launch.
So, what's next on, I don't know if you can talk about this, but I'm curious about like, so, you know, what are you excited to work on?
I feel like everything you're working on is pretty forward thinking and new, but I don't know how much you can, you know.
Yeah, I think, you know, our projects kind of ebb and flow.
But, you know, what is exciting is to think about the two programs I just talked about and the potential there with the bandwidth alliance, you know, there are 20 or so partners and the analytics partnership program, like six to seven or so.
And with that potential, there's so much more that we can do.
So, I'm excited to continue to work on those two programs, but with what we have, do more.
Right. So, what was your fun fact? Oh, man. So, I played rugby in college and I think it was like my junior year.
I can't remember who we were playing.
I go out there and playing and I don't notice a thing until there's some sort of break in the game.
I take my mouth bar down and I realize that I chipped my tooth.
My fun fact is I still haven't replaced that tooth. I've gone to the dentist and they said, you know, your teeth have shifted already.
There's no point of putting it in unless you want it for aesthetics.
So, that was my fun fact is I still don't have a tooth there.
That doesn't sound so fun though, getting your teeth knocked out.
It's definitely not a smart fact either. Well, I've known you a long time and we both have our COVID hair, right?
Yours looks great, by the way. It was my hair seven years ago before I went with the updo, the shorter version.
I was thinking about growing it out, although my wife can't wait for the barbers to open up.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Have you asked her to cut your hair? You know, it's one of those things where if it goes wrong, it goes really wrong.
So, I'd rather just grow it out.
My son, fortunately, I've been able to cut his hair. That's easy enough.
I just take a clipper and just, you know, so, right. Well, I just got a one minute countdown warning.
So, we are, I can't believe it, at the end of our time.
But I wanted to thank you, Zen, for coming out, giving us a little window into the kinds of things that you're doing in special projects.
For those not in the know, this is We Are Cloudflare, where I've been interviewing different people from around the org so you can get a flavor for what we do behind the scenes, who are the people behind the products that we make.
And we'll be here on Thursday at two o'clock.
Zen, thanks so much for joining. Thanks, Chad. I appreciate it.