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Founded July 2009; 6 years ago (2009-07)
Headquarters San Francisco, California, U.S.
Founder(s) Matthew Prince
Lee Holloway
Michelle Zatlyn
Key people Matthew Prince (CEO)
Lee Holloway
Michelle Zatlyn
Industry Internet
Products CloudFlare
Services Website performance,
Alexa rank Decrease 1,486 (May 2015)

CloudFlare is a U.S. company that provides a content delivery network and distributed domain name server services, sitting between the visitor and the CloudFlare user's hosting provider, acting as a reverse proxy for websites. Its network protects, speeds up, and improves availability for a website or mobile application with a change in DNS. CloudFlare is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with an additional office in London.[1]


CloudFlare was created in 2009 by Matthew Prince, Lee Holloway, and Michelle Zatlyn,[2][3] who had previously worked on Project Honey Pot.[3][4] CloudFlare was launched at the September 2010 TechCrunch Disrupt conference.[2][3] It received media attention in June 2011, after providing security to LulzSec's website.[2][5]

The hacker group UGNazi attacked CloudFlare partially via flaws in Google's authentication systems in June 2012, gaining administrative access to CloudFlare and using it to deface 4chan.[6][7]

In February 2014, CloudFlare mitigated the largest-ever recorded DDoS attack, which peaked at 400 Gbit/s.[8]

Funding rounds

In November 2009, CloudFlare raised $2.1 million in a Series A round from Pelion Venture Partners and Venrock.[9]

In July 2011, CloudFlare raised $20 million in a Series B round from New Enterprise Associates, Pelion Venture Partners, Venrock.[9][10][11]

In December 2012, CloudFlare raised $50 million in a Series C round from New Enterprise Associates, Pelion Venture Partners, Venrock, Union Square Ventures, and Greenspring Associates.[12][13][14]

In March 2015, at the South by Southwest Interactive conference, CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince said that the company, which is valued at more than $1 billion, was on a trajectory to go public in 2017. Noted that the company became profitable in August 2014, Prince speculated that CloudFlare's gross profit margin could be as high as 90% by the time it goes public (as of March 2015 it was 75%).[15]


In June 2014, CloudFlare acquired CryptoSeal, founded by Ryan Lackey, in a deal it says will extend web user security services.[16][17][18] In February 2014 it acquired StopTheHacker, which offers malware detection, automatic malware removal, and reputation and blacklist monitoring.[17][19]


CloudFlare uses a modified version of Nginx as a key technology.[20] As of December 2014, it reportedly operated from within 30 partner data centers.[21]

CloudFlare claims to protect, speed up, and improve availability for a website or mobile application by using a DNS change. The network optimizes web and mobile pages to improve page load times and performance. CloudFlare also attempts to block threats and limit abusive bots and crawlers. CloudFlare currently runs on an anycast network.[22] CloudFlare aims to protect customers from DDoS attacks, they also provide other services like a web application firewall (WAF).

CloudFlare releases "Keyless SSL" technology that lets sites use CloudFlare’s Secure Socket Layer (SSL) service while retaining on-premises custody of their private keys.[23]

CloudFlare launched a free service for both its paying and free customers: automatic SSL encryption for any site without the need to pay for or configure an encryption certificate.[24]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Awarded "Best Enterprise Startup" by TechCrunch at the 8th Annual Crunchies Awards in February 2015.[25]

Named the "Most Innovative Network & Internet Technology Company" for two years running by the Wall Street Journal.[26]

In 2012 CloudFlare was recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Technology Pioneer.[27]

Ranked among the world's 10 most innovative companies by Fast Company.[28]


As of March 2014, CloudFlare was ranked in the top 10 of the world's worst hosts and networks based on malicious traffic it hosts by SiteVet Beta.[29] It was also ranked in the 7th rank among the top 50 Bad Hosts by Host Exploit.[30]

Two of ISIS' top three online chat forums are guarded by CloudFlare but U.S. law enforcement has not asked them to discontinue the service.[31]

In April, it was reported that a movement started on Twitter has been criticizing 2016 Presidential Candidates for using Cloudflare to host their campaign websites including Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Martin O’Malley.[32] Recently, O'Malley made the decision in June to discontinue his service as it is being reported that the companies eHarmony, Cisco, Y Combinator, Riot Games, and NASDAQ have also discontinued Cloudflare services due to the controversy.[33][citation needed]


  1. ^ "CloudFlare Reveals $50 Million "Secret" Funding -- From One Year Ago - Kara Swisher - Security - AllThingsD". AllThingsD. 
  2. ^ a b c Henderson, Nicole (2011-06-17). "Cloudflare Gets an Unusual Endorsement from Hacker Group LulzSec". Webhost Industry Review. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  3. ^ a b c "Our story". Cloudflare. Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  4. ^ "Cloudflare Beta". Project Honey Pot. Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  5. ^ Hesseldahl, Arik (2011-06-10). "Web Security Start-Up Cloudflare Gets Buzz, Courtesy of LulzSec Hackers". All Things Digital. Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  6. ^ Simcoe, Luke (2012-06-14). "The 4chan breach: How hackers got a password through voicemail". Maclean's. Retrieved 2012-07-12. 
  7. ^ Ms. Smith (2012-06-03). "Hacktivists UGNazi attack 4chan, Cloudflare and Wounded Warrior Project". Privacy and Security Fanatic. NetworkWorld. Retrieved 2012-07-12. 
  8. ^ "DDoS Attack Hits 400 Gbit/s, Breaks Record". Dark Reading. 
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ Hesseldahl, Arik (2011-07-12). "Web Security Start-Up Cloudflare Lands $20 Million Funding Round". AllThingsD. Retrieved 2012-07-12. 
  11. ^ Milian, Mark (December 18, 2012). "Why a Fast-Growing Startup Tries to Keep Its Venture Funding Secret". Tech Deals. Bloomberg. Retrieved January 1, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Cloudflare Reveals $50M Round From Union Square Ventures". TechCrunch. AOL. 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Kharif, Olga (March 17, 2015). "Website-Services Provider CloudFlare Plans IPO in 2017, CEO Says". Bloomberg Business. 
  16. ^ "Cloudflare Acquires CryptoSeal". Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  17. ^ a b "CryptoSeal". Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  18. ^ Jeremy Kirk (18 June 2014). "Cloudflare acquires enterprise VPN provider CryptoSeal". PCWorld. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  19. ^ "Cloudflare Acquires Anti-Malware Firm StopTheHacker". TechCrunch. AOL. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Spamhaus DDoS grows to Internet-threatening size". Ars Technica. 
  23. ^ "Cloudflare’s New Keyless SSL Could Unlock Cloud For Financial Institutions". TechCrunch. AOL. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "8th Annual Crunchies Awards". TechCrunch. AOL. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  26. ^ Michael Totty and Shirley S. Wang (17 October 2011). "Winners of the 2011 Wall Street Journal Innovation Awards - WSJ". WSJ. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  27. ^ "Technology Pioneer 2012 - Matthew Prince, Michelle Zatlyn & Lee Holloway (Cloudflare)". Technology Pioneer 2012 - Matthew Prince, Michelle Zatlyn & Lee Holloway (Cloudflare) - World Economic Forum. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  28. ^ "Most Innovative Companies 2012 - Industries Top 10 - Web/Internet". Fast Company. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  29. ^ "World Hosts Report". March 2014. 
  30. ^ "Host Exploit - World Host Report March 2014" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  31. ^ "Testimony of Evan F. Kohlmann" (PDF). 27 January 2015. 
  32. ^ Candice Lanier (2015-04-27). "The Presidential Candidates, National Security & CloudFlare". 
  33. ^