Meet Michelle Zatlyn: Revolutionizing the World of Tech with Cloudflare

Michelle Zatlyn

From positions in Google and Toshiba, launching multiple startups, and now President and COO of Cloudflare, Michelle Zatlyn compiled quite the resume. A chance meeting while working towards her MBA at the Harvard Business School resulted in a groundbreaking program: Cloudflare. Michelle Zatlyn has gone on to become worth $1.2 billion, according to Forbes.

So what is Cloudflare? How did Zatlyn transform the world of tech? Let’s take a look at her legacy as a powerful woman in the technology sector and all she’s achieved so far.

Michelle Zatlyn: A Chance Meeting

Before heading to Harvard Business School for her MBA, Zatlyn worked as a product manager for Toshiba and launched two successful startups.

While studying, Michelle Zatlyn met classmate Matthew Prince. Prince started Project Honey Pot in 2004 with Lee Holloway. They made their goal to decrease the amount of spam email web administrators dealt with. Websites across more than 185 countries signed up and loved the service. However, they had one request: “don’t just track the bad guys, stop them.”

So when Zatlyn heard about Prince’s project, she immediately knew that they had an opportunity to expand the project. They had to find a solution to stop the spam. And then a partnership was born.

They first tried to come up with a name for their new venture. They originally called it “Project Web Wall,” but it lacked punch. A friend described their project as a “firewall in the cloud,” so they chose to play off that phrase and call it Cloudflare.

Using the resources offered by the college, Zatlyn and Prince worked with Harvard Business School staff to perfect the business plan. As they worked on the business side, Lee Holloway from Project Honey Pot developed their first working prototype. By April of 2009, their plan won the Harvard Business School Business Plan competition.

Michelle Zatlyn: Taking Cloudflare Off the Ground

After graduation, Zatlyn and Prince moved to California to where Holloway lived. The summer after finishing school, the three spent their time refining the Cloudflare product.

By November 2009, the group secured the Series A financing they needed. Now it was time to expand the team. They knew they needed a rockstar crew to take Cloudflare off the ground. However, acquiring the level of talent they needed to make it work before they could launch the product proved complicated. However, they eventually found a team that hailed from companies such as Google, Yahoo, PayPal, and Mint.com. All of them were compelled by the idea of building a better internet.

Michelle Zatlyn later explained, “When we came up with Cloudflare, I knew nothing about internet security, but I care a lot about liking what I’m doing. I knew if I could help create internet security, that’s something I could work hard for and be proud [of]; 10 years later, we have 165 data centres, 12 million domains and more than 800 employees.”

The biggest concern stakeholders and future clients had was Cloudflare introducing latency to their sites. The team worked overtime to find any sources of latency and eliminate them. When they did a soft launch, the team waited with bated breath, concerned that they didn’t do enough to solve the potential issue.

However, they discovered that their clients had sites loading 30% faster on average. By removing the spam, the sites operated much more smoothly.

The web performance and security company was selected by the Wall Street Journal as the Most Innovative Internet Technology Company two years in a row. It’s been called a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum.

Michelle Zatlyn: Her Accolades and Success

For her incredible, revolutionary work as president and Chief Operating Officer of Cloudflare, many publications have featured her for awards. San Francisco Business Times named her on their 40 Under 40 list and Forbes named her on the list of 50 Self-Made Women. She made the list of The World’s Top 50 Women in Tech. In 2019, C100’s nominated her as the Icon of Canadian Entrepreneurship. She was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Inc. magazine named her one of the Top 15 Women to Watch in Tech.

She received her MBA from Harvard Business School and Bachelors of Arts/Science with distinction from McGill University. The Harvard Business School awarded the Dubliner Prize for Entrepreneurship to her.

According to Forbes, her net worth clocks in at $1.2 billion. She possesses a 5% stake in Cloudflare and currently holds the position of COO and president of the innovative internet technology company.

Published in Featured Articles, Featured Women
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Author, Artist, Photographer.

Sarah Margaret is an artist who expresses her love for feminism, equality, and justice through a variety of mediums: photography, filmmaking, poetry, illustration, song, acting, and of course, writing.

She owns Still Poetry Photography, a company that showcases her passion for capturing poetic moments in time. Instead of poetry in motion, she captures visual poetry in fractions of a second, making cherished keepsakes of unforgettable moments.

She is the artist behind the Still Poetry Etsy shop, which houses her illustrations and bespoke, handmade items. She is the author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall, a narrative poetry anthology that follows a young woman discovering herself as she emerges from an abusive relationship.

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