In the early days of Cloudflare, we made it a policy that every new hire had to interview with either me or my co-founder Michelle. It’s still the case today, though we now have more than 3,000 employees, continue to hire great people as we find them, and, because there are only so many hours in the day, have had to enlist a few more senior executives to help with these final calls.
At first, these calls were about helping screen for new members of our small team. But, as our team grew, the purpose of these calls changed. Today, by the time I do the final call with someone we’ve made the decision to hire them, so it’s rarely about screening. Instead, the primary purpose is to make sure everyone joining has had a positive conversation with a senior member of our team, so if in the future they ever see something going wrong they’ll hopefully feel a bit more comfortable letting one of us know. I think because of that these calls are some of the most important work I do.
But, for me, there’s another purpose. I get to hear first-hand why people chose to apply. That’s a barometer for what we’re doing right, evaluated by someone with a perspective outside the organization. And, nearly every day, I hear some version of the same thing: the most consistent reason new employees want to join Cloudflare is because of our mission and the breadth of our impact.
Our team wants the work they do to have a real, positive impact for the millions of users of our services and the billions of Internet users our decisions affect downstream. It makes me smile every time someone we’re about to extend an offer to says something along the lines of “when Cloudflare pushes a new feature or product, you’re changing the entire Internet for the better. And I want to be part of that.” That’s why I continue to be excited about my job too.
It may seem like our mission to “help build a better Internet” has been around forever, but it wasn’t something we had at the beginning. It developed as the natural outgrowth of the team we assembled and the products we built. Today, it’s integral to Cloudflare’s DNA. Our team has always been optimistic about the Internet and its potential to do good, especially if it is founded on respect for certain values like security, privacy, interoperability, and wide availability.
That’s why the focus on privacy over the past few years was always easy for us. We never sold customer data to marketers — that just didn’t seem like what would be a part of a better Internet — so when it came time to comply with new privacy laws, we didn’t have to pull back operations or cut off lines of revenue. Instead, we rolled out the use of Universal SSL to expand encryption broadly for the Internet, and we created our first consumer-facing product, a privacy-first DNS resolver.
As we kick off this year’s Impact Week, we certainly see a number of challenges for the Internet, though we think the opportunities for the Internet continue to far outweigh those challenges. Around the world, we see a number of countries rejecting the opportunity to maximize the potential of the Internet, and instead, passing new laws and regulations seeking to assert narrow control of the Internet for their own self-interested purposes, including in some cases for things like commercial advantage, censorship, or surveillance.
For example, around the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we’ve seen the Russian government launch cyberattacks and use targeted Internet outages to further torment the people in Ukraine, while at the same time pressing citizens in Russia to only use Internet tools and view information controlled by the Russian government.
Yet for all those challenges, we saw a disparate group of people and companies, including Cloudflare, come together to defend Ukraine from these attacks and do everything in their power to get the Internet back online as soon as possible. Nearly a year into the war, and despite the relentless efforts of a very powerful nation, the Internet remains a positive force for good in Ukraine, a way for them to get the message out about the horrific actions of the Russian government, and a tool for dissidents inside Russia to escape the attempted grip of censorship. When Russia personally sanctioned me earlier this year I took it as a badge of honor we were doing something right.
At the same time, the promise of the Internet continues to bring increased opportunity, especially in still developing parts of the world. Increased access to reliable and secure Internet in those countries will enable education, healthcare, and commerce in ways humanity has been struggling to advance for decades.
And we’ve seen recently in Iran that the Internet remains the leading tool for liberation for oppressed voices who seek to shake the control of authoritarian governments. This led to the somewhat unusual step by the US government of relaxing some of the sanctions against Iran in order to permit companies like Cloudflare greater freedom to ensure that the general population in Iran can have access to the Internet to support their cause.
Although issues like war, oppression, and misinformation are as old as humanity itself, the Internet is novel in its ability to bring together marginalized people who previously were unable to find and engage with each other based on distance, repression, or resources. To make sure the Internet fulfills that part of its promise, Project Galileo celebrated its 8th anniversary this year, and continues to support groups that unite underprivileged girls in India, the LGBTQIA+ community in the Nile River Valley, refugees needing health care services in a private environment. In total, through Project Galileo we provide Cloudflare’s services for free to more than 2,100 organizations in over 100 countries. That’s some of the work I’m the most proud of.
Over the course of this Impact Week, we will tell other stories about the way that the Internet, and Cloudflare specifically, provide an optimistic opportunity to improve our world. And that includes the entire world, especially as the Internet is poised to further close the gaps that have existed in Internet services to the developing world since its founding.
We will describe the way Cloudflare is focused on our own impact through emissions and the lessons we are applying to our products and operations to make sure that we are being responsible stewards of the Earth’s resources. We will review the ways that we are working to ensure that the necessary resources needed to benefit from the Internet aren’t limited to large companies with big budgets and the resources to buy the best tools.
From individuals and small businesses, to nonprofits and other community organizations, we want to make sure that the costs of cybersecurity and reliability don’t exclude those poised to benefit the most from the Internet. Specifically this year, we’re focused on making sure that sensitive groups — including local governments and critical infrastructure — are benefiting from new Zero Trust tools that are increasingly necessary for all organizations.
At the end of the week, we’ll release our annual Impact Report that provides a comprehensive review of our approach to these issues, especially when it comes to sustainability and ensuring that the Internet remains a widely-available and principled place.
We take pride in the principles that lie at the core of what we do as a company. Although many of us wake up every day scanning the Internet for the latest cyberattacks that we have to address or the latest congestion on the Internet to relieve, we are energized by the Internet's ongoing promise to make life better for billions of people. This Impact Week we get to wake up and focus on those stories and share with you why all of us are here. We hope you are as excited as we are.