Growing CloudFlare

Last September, CloudFlare launched and our world turned upside down. It turns out that webmasters worldwide had been waiting for a way to make their sites twice as fast and protect them from online threats. And, it turned out, if you give web admins a simple, easy-to-use interface, and make the product something anyone could afford, then literally thousands of new websites would sign up every day.

Today, just 10 months after our public launch, more than 10% of the Internet's visitors experience a faster, safer web because of CloudFlare every month. That's hard for us to imagine, even as we've watched the logs relentlessly grow. Needless to say, we are excited about where we are heading!

Today we announced that we'd raised more capital in order to help grow CloudFlare and it got picked up by a few mediaoutlets. I wanted to give a bit of background on how we got here.

It takes some capital in order to start a company like CloudFlare. While others will undoubtedly try to build a network like ours on top of EC2 or someone else's cloud, we believe you have to build the network from the ground up in order for it to really scale. We had originally raised a little over $2 million to build CloudFlare back in November 2009. We raised this initial Series A from Ray Rothrock at Venrock, and Carl Ledbetter at Pelion Venture Partners. Ray is the leading security investor for the last 20 years, and Carl was CTO at Novell and knows everything there is to know about computer networking. Beyond their industry expertise, they're also both great guys who have been a pleasure to work with.

Immediately after our launch at TechCrunch Disrupt in late September 2010, CloudFlare started to grow quickly. Traffic through our network was doubling week over week. It was an exciting time for our team of eight. The quick adoption validated for us that CloudFlare could be a big, meaningful business.

Our public launch also introduced us to many incredible people, including partners, future employees and investors. One of the individuals that we met was Scott Sandell at NEA in November 2010. He was immediately excited about CloudFlare's goal to make the Internet better for every website and web visitor. He was so excited that he became the lead investor for our Series B round where we raised $20M.

Before we took an investment from NEA, we asked two things of Scott. First, we asked that we not announce the new funding until we actually started to spend it. Second, we asked that we continue to stick to our original plan of building CloudFlare at the rate we'd originally intended. Raising money is a means to an end, it is not an end in and of itself. We wanted CloudFlare to focus on our plan and proceed at our own pace.

Ray, Carl, and Scott have been force multipliers to CloudFlare. They have quietly advised as we continued to execute on CloudFlare's original plan and lay the groundwork for the developments we have in store. While VCs can get a bad wrap from entrepreneurs, if you find the right ones then they can be terrific at helping a disruptive new business like ours flourish.

Today we are already more than 20 times the size that we were in November 2010 when we closed the funding round, and our pace of growth is only accelerating. We have just begun to deploy that capital to accomplish two things: 1) further expanding our network to provide better service to our users; and 2) hiring the best employees to build a world class team capable of helping solve the Internet's toughest challenges.

We have great things in store, and we're just getting started. As I've become fond of saying: stay tuned....