Cloudflare's Co-Founder Is Tech's Newest Billionaire

Cloudflare’s Co-Founder Is Tech’s Newest Billionaire

For most of us, becoming a billionaire is nothing but a farfetched dream. For others (and by others, I mean a select few), it’s a fully realizable goal and the natural next step in one’s entrepreneurship. Belonging to the latter group is Michelle Zatlyn, the co-founder of the web security firm known as Cloudflare. This past Tuesday, the company’s stock soared to record highs, with share prices closing at $108.93 on the New York Stock Exchange. Such numbers represent a doubling of last year’s value, and it has made Zatlyn the newest billionaire in the tech world.

Zatlyn currently serves as Cloudflare’s chief operating officer and she has a 5% stake in the company. She’s actually the company’s second billionaire, just after Matthew Prince, the CEO who became a billionaire himself last May. Today, he is worth $4 billion, and he has a 13% stake in the company.

The two have been business partners since their days at Harvard. When they founded Cloudflare in 2009, they initially had a third partner with them—Lee Holloway, one of Prince’s collaborators. Unfortunately, due to serious health issues, he had to step down in 2016, leaving Zatlyn and Prince to run the company.

Cloudflare specializes in cybersecurity, offering websites protection from various online threats. Given that we are now in an era of near-total digitization and remote work, its services are very much timely and relevant in today’s industries. The company first went public in the fall of 2019 with a share price of $18 and it rose steadily soon after. Its meteoric rise occurred after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, as several companies and services switched to online means. Last year, Cloudflare raked in an impressive $431 million; however, its net losses also went up.

Like any great success story, Cloudflare’s rise to prominence was not without controversy. The company was met with criticism in the past for providing its services to websites such as 8chan and The Daily Stormer, to which it argued that it was simply standing by the principles of free speech. However, the company eventually cut off both websites from its services after it was discovered that the culprit of the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas in 2019 had posted his plans on an 8chan message board.

Most recently, Cloudflare provided its cybersecurity services to election websites involved in the 2020 U.S. elections, as well as to vaccine distributors that have been increasingly active during the ongoing pandemic. Needless to say, Cloudflare can expect to have a busy couple of years in the near future.