Cloudflare Retreat 2018 in Napa, CA

A year ago, I joined the marketing team at Cloudflare.

I was first attracted to Cloudflare by its audacious mission: to help build a better Internet. As someone who’s spent most of my professional life working on programs — in marketing, policy, communications, and advocacy — that build trust and confidence in the Internet, Cloudflare’s mission resonated with me.

But it wasn’t just the mission — it was the product too. Over its eight years, the company has developed a growing platform of products and solutions that help millions of online properties — from nonprofits and hobbyists to small businesses and large enterprises — protect and accelerate anything connected to the Internet. For me, joining the Cloudflare team was an opportunity to help advance a mission and a product that is doing good in the world.

It’s been an exciting year and I want to take the opportunity to reflect on a few things I’ve learned along the way.

First, trust is everything

During my first few months at Cloudflare, I spoke with dozens and dozens of customers. I wanted to understand Cloudflare from their perspective. What challenges do they face? What progress are they trying to make? What is our job-to-be-done?

There was one word I heard consistently from our customers: TRUST.

Beyond accelerating and protecting their websites, these customers talked about the deep relationship that they have with Cloudflare. Our customers talked to me about the trust that we’ve engendered through authenticity, accessibility, and owning up to mistakes (and finding quick ways to resolve them). I learned that at Cloudflare, trust isn’t just a throw-away slogan or a ‘trust each other’ poster on a company’s walls; it’s a fundamental part of how we do business.

Second, fusing mission and product matters

Back in 2015, I co-authored an opinion piece in The Washington Post highlighting the fragile state of the Internet and the need for tech-literate people to protect it. Three years later, the Internet remains in a fragile state.

Some companies claim to be mission driven, but delegate their mission-oriented activity to the corporate social responsibility department. Not so at Cloudflare.

Enduring brands are built when you fuse a powerful, important mission with an innovative product. Cloudflare has a long history of advancing web standards. By advocating for secure protocols like DNSSEC and being the industry’s first to roll out free universal SSL certificates, Cloudflare has helped make the Internet markedly more secure.  

Over the past year, Cloudflare has given me the opportunity to fuse mission and product.  Before the U.S. midterm elections, we launched a campaign to raise awareness of the Athenian Project, an initiative where we donate enterprise-level protection to U.S. state and local election related websites, free of charge. And, in October, I had the opportunity to work with the team to produce the Internet Summit, our annual conference where we feature leading thinkers talking about the future of the Internet.

Internet Summit 2018 Team

Third, nothing beats the feeling of shipping

One of the benefits of working at an engineering-driven company is the ability to work on innovative new products that solve real customer problems. As part of the Product Marketing team, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with product managers, engineers, sales, support — everyone! — to take some of these products to market. Last year, we launched hundreds (!!) of features that delivered value to our customers and dozens of new products, like, Access, Mobile SDK, Stream….and, at the end of Q3, we held 14 days of consecutive launches to celebrate Crypto Week and our Birthday Week.

There are few things that feel as great as when a cross-functional team comes together to build and launch something that we can learn from.

Finally, I’ve learned about the importance of a strong company culture

Recently, our co-founder and COO, Michelle Zatlyn, described our culture as adult-like. She wasn’t referring to the age of our employees; rather, she was referring to the balance and thoughtfulness that people bring to their work and the understanding that people have lives outside of work too. The people who thrive in our culture listen well, get stuff done, and are deeply empathetic to their teammates and our customers.

I believe that these three elements of corporate culture are our superpower. They enables us to attract great talent which, in turn, lets us do big things that deliver great value to our customers and advance our mission.

I’m honored to work with such amazing teammates on helping to build a better Internet. Here’s to the next exciting year at Cloudflare.
PS: My team is hiring. Join Cloudflare’s Product Marketing team and help us take new and existing products to market with compelling, breakthrough campaigns. You can check out openings on our careers page.