Cloudflare TV

We are Cloudflare

Presented by Kari Linder, Andrew Fitch, Shweta Shanbhag, Chaat Butsunturn
Originally aired on 

Meet all the people who make up the Cloudflare team from all offices, all teams, all levels, in as many languages as possible.


Transcript (Beta)

We are live. Great. Thank you so much. Hello, everyone. My name is Chaat Butsunturn.

I'm on the sales team. My first guest is Andrew Fitch. Hi, Andrew. Hello, everybody.

I just want to provide first a brief intro on what this segment is about.

We are Cloudflare. Cloudflare has more than 1,200, 1,400 employees. We wanted to give you a peek under the hood of some of the people that make Cloudflare what it is.

Most people know our C-level team and the like, but you may not know who or what we do behind the scenes, from data to infrastructure to sales to marketing to everything else.

In this series, I'll be interviewing a representation of our team.

I wanted to start with Andrew because I'm trying to think, how did we first meet, Andrew?

Was it at Toastmasters? It may have been through Toastmasters.

I'm not sure. It might have just been around the San Francisco office.

We're both based in San Francisco at headquarters.

Right now, I'm reaching you from my home office in Oakland, California.

Andrew, you are? I'm in Marshfield, Massachusetts, which is my hometown.

Great. What is your role? What do you do at Cloudflare?

I used to work in developer relations. That was my first job here.

Starting January 1, 2020, I started in my new role of community and inclusion on the people team.

My full title is actually learning partner colon community and inclusion, but I just say community and inclusion.

I like to think of you as our internal brand ambassador.

I really appreciate what you do. Before Cloudflare, you said you worked in some developer relations.

What did you do before you came to us?

I've always been in community -related roles, mostly outwardly facing. My first job was actually running a screen acting school.

I went to grad school for political science and accidentally got back to my hometown.

Then I ended up moving to Boston and ran this screen acting school in Boston for about four years.

I then moved to San Francisco. I got into community, business management, event production in general, in a sales -adjacent role in the education space as well.

Then the same company that I was working for, which was Kaplan Test Prep, had acquired this coding school called Dev Bootcamp.

It was a fascinating place to work.

I wanted to work there. I did work there as a community manager and also focused on sales, marketing, and general event production.

Then I ended up working at another coding school, which then further led me to Cloudflare.

I've been working in a developer relations-adjacent field for a while.

All along, by the way, I've been very interested in working in diversity in an inclusion role.

I came full circle here at Cloudflare.

That's really nice. What are you excited to be working on?

You had your hand in many different pies. I know we met at Toastmasters, which gave us an opportunity.

What I liked about it is you get to meet other people across the organization.

That's been fun. Absolutely. What I'm most passionate about and excited about right now is working to support my Black colleagues, the Black people who work at Cloudflare, the people of the African diaspora in general at Cloudflare and beyond.

My work in community and inclusion leads me to working a lot with our employee resource groups, or ERGs for short, groups of underrepresented employees.

One of the groups, Afroflare, I'm working a lot with them right now on finding ways to amplify their voice and to provide resources as well and to stir up the conversation of how can we all be more supportive and more aware?

How can we educate ourselves and those around us to be actively anti-racist?

I think Cloudflare has a very, and I hope through the course of this segment, people will get a sense for the diversity that we do have across the organization, which is great.

There's a little tradition I wanted to share with our viewers, which is when you are a new hire at Cloudflare, we ask new employees for a fun fact that would not be discoverable on your resume, and it just gets us, lets people know each other in a different light outside of the professional CV, right?

So do you remember what your fun fact was?

I sure do. Yeah, my fun fact was that at the time, and this is by the way a little over two and a half years ago, was that I used to own and live on two different sailboats in San Francisco Bay over time, and I hope to live on a third one moving forward.

I now live on a sailboat in San Francisco Bay again, my third sailboat, which yeah, I'm always sort of back and forth between apartments and boats, but it's been a lovely experience.

Does that boat stay docked or do you ever take it out in the water?

Oh yeah, I take it out often, absolutely.

That's the whole idea, only I haven't been in San Francisco for, since the day before the shelter-in-place order went into effect in California, I flew here to Massachusetts, so to be honest with you, I'm assuming the marina would call me and let me know if the boat had sunk, but for all I know, the boat might not even be floating anymore, so maybe I'm not going to be taking it out anymore.

Yeah, I tend to try to take it out, you know, at least once a month, if not every weekend, if the weather's good.

Is it kind of like, I had a motorcycle for a time and they get fussy if you don't ride them, you know, I found.

Is that same with boats? It's not like they're going to just start sinking, but you know, maybe they do get cobwebs and something happens.

Yeah, yeah, a couple little things like that, but there is an automatic bilge pump, so in theory, even if there were a leak, it would be pumping the water out right now, but no, honestly, these old diesel engines that these sailboats tend to have are pretty darn reliable, so it really does start up every time, fortunately.

So if you had to come up with a new fun fact, has that evolved?

I mean, it's still pretty fun to be living on a boat, at least, you know, from the outside is what it sounds like.

I understand they're expensive, but what would a new fun fact be?

Yeah, sure. Let's see, what is maybe what I'm working on right now in my hometown?

You know, I feel very fortunate to be back here for this pandemic because I feel, well, for one, it feels like the country.

It's really just a suburb, but it feels like I'm out in the country. I can walk around, I can breathe, I can be around my family, but also I can stir up conversations around the Black Lives Matter movement and talk about it in my overwhelmingly white majority hometown here and make, hopefully, more of an impact here.

So I actually just came from the police station right before this. I was down there meeting with them because we're planning part two of our memorial service in honor of the lives of George Floyd and the countless other Black individuals who have lost their lives over time.

So we're going to have a big event this Saturday that I'm working on planning with some other local residents, and I'm really excited to be involved with that.

Mm-hmm. Yeah, Cloudflare has a number of ERGs.

Do you have any sense of how many we've got? Roughly, I think roughly 16. To be honest with you, I think about three of them are not traditional ERGs, being they're not representative, they're made up of underrepresented employees, like people at the African Diaspora, like people of Latin American descent, or the LGBTQIA plus people of Cloudflare.

There are groups for all of those folks as well, but some of them are a little more focused on mental health awareness or mental health research at Cloudflare.

There's one that's about sobriety, and for those people who are sober or who are sober curious or just wanting to help spread the word that alcohol is not all that healthy for you, that's called Soberflare.

So yeah, there are many others as well, but there are about 16, I think, in total now, which has been really exciting to see.

When I first got here, there were none. Right.

I remember that. Yeah. And I think the first one was Proudflare. Is that right?

The first, yeah, the first like official one was Proudflare, which I was very honored to have participated in starting.

Right. Yeah, I'm actually also in the Parentflare, or Cloudflarence, I think we call it.

Cloudflarence, best named group, by the way.

Yeah, everything's this, that flare. So Cloudflarence was nice.

Yeah, as a parent in tech, I find that to be very useful, you know, and there's been a wide range of parents from like, pre-parents to new kids to even teenagers and like, so that's been a pretty great resource group.

Agreed. Yeah, well, this has been great. I really appreciate getting to talk with you a little bit more about your role.

Is there anything else that we're missing here before I call up our my next guest?

No, just, um, yeah, actually, sure.

Yeah, everybody just be thinking about, thinking about bias right now, thinking about privilege, talking about these things, and learning how we can all work to be more inclusive in our societies and all of our communities around us.

Chad, thank you so much for this opportunity. It was great talking with you as well.

Yeah, appreciate that. Hey, but while I'm waiting for our next guest, who's going to be Shweta Shanbag, she is just joining right now, and she's a solutions engineer with our team.

So, I don't know, at this point, I'm just kind of waiting for her to take to, to, to get on the, on the Zoom, and I see her.

Can we just, can we just wave? That's where, here we are. Oh, there you are, right next to you, almost virtually next to each other.

Thanks, Andrew. Hey, Andrew, thank you.

Hi, Shweta, how are you? Hi, Chad, doing good. How are you? Good, good.

Looks like you're in the same room as, as, as Andrew was. Yes, I just caught him a little bit there.

I went virtual here with our virtual lava lamps. Yeah, I'm joining you in there as well.

And for those not in the know, the lava lamps are the first thing you'll see when you walk into our office in San Francisco.

Where I met Shweta, Shweta is a solutions engineer, and do you remember when we first met, Shweta?

I don't remember where, when we met, but I do remember we met at a coffee machine chat, and like talking, and then, and then we keep meeting at the Cloudflarens group, our parents group.

That's right, that's right. I was just talking to Andrew about that.

So you are a solutions engineer, and I was describing to our guests that, you know, we want to introduce people to all different parts of the organization, and a solutions engineer, sometimes known in some organizations as a sales engineer, could you, like, at a high level, what do you do?

What, what's a solutions engineer do? Sure, yeah, we, as a solutions engineer, we work closely with other teams in the sales department, like the account executives, and CSMs, and, and, you know, BDRs, business development reps, and we kind of help with the pre and post sales work.

So whether, you know, beginning from when you meet a customer for the first time, we get into the calls through like pre-sales, like technical discovery, trying to find out what the customer pain points are, design a solution for them.

And then kind of help them through the POC process, kind of, you know, see when they're testing us, testing our platform, kind of, and then once they sign, sign a contract with Cloudflare, then I also, we also help onboard them on the Cloudflare platform.

So a bit of like pre-sales and post-sales work, if you will.

Yeah, you seem to straddle both sides of that relationship, pre-sales.

So it's like the one continuous threat they can rely on, which is, I think, important given that it's the technical one, right?

You understand going in what their problems are and coming out, you know, how do we map our, our solutions to their problems?

Yeah, and it's great. It's a, it's a unique company where they let you do pre -sales and post-sales.

And I think it's great because when you're selling somebody something, you're kind of held responsible for it, like after you sell something, right?

So you're, you're, you're responsible to kind of hold them through to the, to the onboarding.

So So what do you, were you a solutions engineer prior to Cloudflare?

What were you doing before, before Cloudflare?

So going back to where I started, I came to the U.S. in 2006 for my master's in telecommunications.

And then, and then I've had the opportunity to work different roles, starting being a technical trainer at a company named OpNet.

They're a part of Riverbed now. And then I moved on to being a QA engineer at Cisco, did that for a little bit.

And then I moved to a premium support engineer at Akamai before I finally joined Cloudflare as a solutions engineer.

So yeah, different roles I've been, yeah, I've been fortunate there.

Were they kind of similar at all?

And if there, is there a similar thread or were, were there like pretty distinct differences in the migration through your career thread there?

I wouldn't say there was similar.

No, they were actually not at all similar, but they were still in the networking space.

That's one similarity between them, but the roles themselves were very, however, two similarities.

One is they were all customer facing except for the QA part.

And then, and they were all based on like technology and like, networking sort of.

Right. So what, what are you, what are you excited to be working on?

I mean, I imagine you're probably working with dozens, if not hundreds, I don't have a sense for how many customers you work on and maybe each presents its own unique project or challenge, but, and it could be something like that, or it could be something, even outside of that lane that really excites you about what you're working on at Cloudflare.

Yeah. So there's this recent program that we launched at Cloudflare, which is helping the COVID outbreak.

So we are, we have this Teams product where we open up our calendars to the world and they can, if anyone is willing to try this product, they can, they're, they're free to do that.

And then we help onboard them, answer any questions, you know, talk about that.

So I think it's, it's very, it's great that Cloudflare is helping in such, in such times, right.

With this, with this outreach and yeah, it's great that giving out the solution for free and I'm really blessed to be a part of that.

So what, what could you describe for our audience? What, what's the, what's the, what is the solution?

What's the problem that we're, we're solving here?

Sure. So, so with this current pandemic and shelter in place, right, everybody's working remotely, right?

So people are like out of their offices now working from wherever they're living or, you know, from home or, so, so it becomes very challenging because now you're like, everybody's relying on a VPN.

So now we, we have this product in Cloudflare called Cloudflare Access, which is like we are trying to take down the VPN model of things and try to channelize that access, right?

So for, you know, if someone's trying to get into a VPN and sort of giving them access to the entire VPN, you know, you're just channelizing that access by giving them, you know, creating policies and only allowing certain people to access certain applications and.

Right. Yeah. Yeah. I understand that it's also compatible with any, you know, SSO provider.

So if you're using Okta or Google, you know, you know, AD, whatever it is that you, you can bring that on and continue to use it to get the secure access to your internal apps.

Well, that's pretty cool.

I think that, you know, this definitely, I mean, there are a lot of people working from home now, you know, and you know, behind this, this screen is the, you know, when I've been taking customer calls, I've noticed that people are taking them from, from broom closets, from the laundry room, from the garage, more commonly the kitchen table or the dining room table.

But yeah, it's even sunny, you know, people are outside on their decks.

So it's the new reality, I guess.

Yeah, absolutely. So what was your, I asked Andrew this, what was, do you remember what your fun fact was when you first joined?

Yeah, when I joined, I, yeah, this was my fun fact.

So I used to teach or choreograph dance sequences back in college.

Like we used to have annual day celebrations. So I was very involved in like, what kind of dance?

Bollywood dancing. Oh, yeah. Yeah. All right. Okay. Uh-huh.

So yeah, I've seen some Bollywood, you know, and more of that exposure might be watching.

So you think you can dance with my wife, you know, every now and then they have a Bollywood number on there.

So is that the kind of thing? Are they always big groups?

It seems like with Bollywood, it's always like, like, get a dozen people, throw them on stage, or more.

Yeah, more people, more fun. Yes. Yeah, but it goes both ways.

Like I've done solos, as well as like choreographed groups becomes more challenging when it's a big group.

But yeah, it's more fun, right?

To watch as a big group. So how did you get into that? Bollywood? I mean, I imagine it's like, I don't know.

I mean, there are people here, they go square dancing.

I know is Bollywood something that, you know, you know, from your hometown, everybody's doing it?

Or did you have a particular interest in it? Well, I am from India.

So it's Bollywood is like from I was born in Mumbai. And that's like the industry, the film industry there.

So we are very influenced by that. Right, right.

And before I welcome Carrie here, last question is, if you had a new, is there another fun fact that like, because sometimes people are they write their fun facts when they first joined the company, and they're like, Oh, yeah, you know, I might, actually, that wasn't as fun.

I mean, Bollywood is pretty fun. But is there anything else you'd like to share with our audience about what makes Shweta tick?

Sure. Yeah. Recently, I mean, over the past years, I've been very interested or looking up like home organization and minimalism.

So, so yeah, one of my friend, like the other day, she came to our home, she's like, you're the the Marie Kondo of our group, right?

Because I'm obsessed with organizing everything I can find. That's great.

Well, thank you so much for joining and sharing with us a little bit about the solutions in your role and getting to know you and at Cloudflare.

So thanks, Shweta.

Really appreciate your joining. Yeah, thank you. It was a pleasure.

Hi, Carrie. And thanks, thanks, Jack. Bye. Okay. We'll see you. Hey, Carrie, how are you?

Oh, you might be on mute. Yes, I was. Yes. We will hear some bugs here.

Yeah, I know. Right. So thanks for, for, for, for joining me. I appreciate appreciate it.

Now you are a designer, right? Yeah, I know. I, I, I pinged you carry when I said like, I would like to have a backdrop that isn't my studio garage, with like, you know, piles of stuff in the background.

Yes. So did you make this?

Yes, I did. Yeah, I think that was for retreat. A few years ago, we were working with the security team to roll out some new keys, and they thought that they would be more effective if they had little swag bags that were branded.

So the Wall of Entropy, I think that's on a little security pouch, if you remember.

Because I had in that pouch had a security key, a fob thing, something on my computer.

And yeah, they were distributing that as that's pretty neat. I actually use it as my travel toothpaste bag now.

Oh, I'm honored to be joining you on all of your journeys.

You are right. So Cloudflare, I feel has a pretty unique feel to its design.

And it's pretty consistent. And it's fun, whimsical, has some color to it.

Is where did that come from? Well, I think a lot of it came from sort of the unique way that we approach our technical problems.

I think specifically, the lava lamps are a great example of taking this kind of difficult to solve problem on a computer and looking to the outside world to find these sources of entropy.

And we have the lava lamps, but we also are part of the League of Entropy.

It's an organization of groups that have found their own sort of creative ways to look to sort of the outside world with radio waves and earthquake data and all of these things to generate entropy for encryption.

And so I think I tried to capture a little bit of that like creative spirit with the fun colors and all of the sort of groovy shapes that sort of in our Cloudflare design.

Yeah, because for all our different products, on the developers page, for example, there are different icons and logos.

And I like how they seem to have a visual connection to this Cloudflare feel.

Yet, intuitively, I can tell what it's about. I feel speed, or I feel security, or I feel whatever it is.

So that's pretty cool. So you're a designer, is that right?

Yes, yes, I'm a designer. And so what exactly is, I mean, maybe it's obvious.

What's your role? I design things, but... Yeah, no, it is definitely not obvious.

And when I first joined Cloudflare, there was one other designer on the marketing team, and then two designers on the product team.

And so that was, it meant wearing a lot of hats and sort of taking on all of these projects that you wouldn't even think would involve a designer, but you are the person that has those programs on your computer.

And so you're the one that's going to be tasked with doing these things.

And so I had sort of a very broad start to Cloudflare.

And I sort of dipped a toe into all of these different teams that needed design in some capacity.

And I am really grateful for sort of that introduction to this company, because I think it's meant developing a lot of really important relationships.

And I think Cloudflare has been able to utilize design in a different way, because we have this sort of free dialogue between all of these teams that might not necessarily feel comfortable filing a Jira ticket and going through all of these processes and trying to get a visual aid or something.

But if you can sort of be approachable, and you can open up that doorway, then you can find all of these interesting ways to utilize design and make our products and things more effective.

Yeah, yeah, that's pretty cool. What did you do before Cloudflare?

Well, before Cloudflare, I was actually in sort of an academic research space for most of my career.

I was working for a psychology lab called the Moral Emotions and Trust Lab, where we were looking into what are called moral emotions, which are emotions that are sort of tuned with this right or wrong sense.

And so my specialty was empathy, but we also looked into a lot of awe.

And so it was great, because it meant that we had this sort of hooky thing that meant like the science of awesome, which worked well for getting our things sort of published broadly.

But my sort of focus was empathy and sort of the limits of empathy and how we feel empathy differently in all of these different situations.

We worked on the Facebook report flow.

It used to be when you reported something, then it automatically got sent for a content review, which was very intensive for the, you know, you had to have people that were reviewing all of this content.

And so we were trying to introduce more empathy into that flow so that people, you know, remember their relationship with the person and were able to articulate a little bit better what it was that was sort of offensive about the thing that was posted.

And it has changed quite a bit since then. But that was sort of our forum into the tech world then.

And then I worked for a startup accelerator working with very, very early stage startups to sort of, you know, establish a visual identity and sort of lay a foundation that would grow with the company and a fair amount of freelance design.

And then I found myself here. So how do you feel empathy works into design?

Oh, you have to have empathy for your users and for all of the people that are going to try and interact with this design, sort of the context that they will be in when they are interacting with the design.

And I think, you know, going through, it was actually sort of the research component that I think has been most helpful.

Understanding when someone says, I want this to be orange.

They don't really mean they want it to be orange. They mean that they want it to be emphasized or something.

And so I think having empathy for your users and the journey that they go on through your product is absolutely crucial for making a good user experience.

And making sure that they know what they're doing, that they are doing the things that will be most helpful for them to accomplish their greater end goals and sort of the end goal, which is, you know, why they log onto your product.

Right. It's fascinating to hear you talk about empathy. I remember in my, you know, executive interview when I was first joining, I had the opportunity to talk to Matthew Prince.

And one of the questions I asked him was about, you know, the company culture.

We have engineers, you have sales, you have all these seemingly disparate types of roles, but what's the glue?

And he said, you know, across the board, there are two things that we're looking for.

Empathy and curiosity.

And it seems like each of those qualities can be applied across the board on all of our, no matter what role you're doing.

Yeah. Yeah. I absolutely agree. And I think that that's really sort of the core tenets of Cloudflare.

And I've been really impressed with how we've been able to sort of maintain that culture through the very rapid growth that we've gone through since I first started here.

Well, I have a question from our audience.

Oh, yeah. It's from Huawei Blue. Love your blog and social media designs.

What's the internal process before you create an image?

And how much is feeling involved? Well, it probably depends on how much time we have.

We actually have, let's say, 30 seconds, because then I got to sign off. Okay, well, how much time I have before I, you know, before the blog is getting published, because if you have only an hour before it goes out the door, you got to read it, try to understand it and send it out.

But I try to, I spend a lot of time reading our blog and trying to sort of get an understanding for the process that, you know, the author has gone through in creating the project and also, you know, how it fits into our Cloudflare, you know, our Cloudflare product suite.

Before you get cut off, I just want to say thank you.

And also, because like, we're switching to the next one at the top of the hour.

So thank you all for tuning in to We Are Cloudflare.

Tune in next time on Thursday, we'll be interviewing three other people from infrastructure, data, and customers, CSM.

Thanks so much. I think now we just kind of smile until the switch goes.

All right. That's cool. I'll stay here.

Thank you, Keri. Really appreciate it. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me on.

This is great.

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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.
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