Disrupt runners-up, Cloudflare have been getting a lot of attention recently, thanks to the company’s role in helping LulzSec’s website stay online. In fact the hackers even gave Cloudflare a shoutout on their Twitter feed — offering to trade rum for a premium account — leading to a surge in customer sign-ups.
Of course, co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince is quick to point out that the company takes — at best — a neutral approach to hosting LulzSec, and that protecting the hackers has only served to make Cloudflare’s systems more resilient for all of its other customers. Still, it’s a pretty ironic twist for a company which promises to protect websites against DDOS attacks and other nefarious activity.
Keen to understand the company’s position on helping hackers and on sharing user data with the authorities, I invited Prince into the TCTV studio for a quick interview (I’m in LA on Skype so forgive my lousy connection). In the video below we discuss how Cloudflare has grown to handling over 5bn page views a month, the ethics of helping hackers, the importance of neutrality, a conspiracy theory or two and (further ironically) how Prince and his team were inspired to start the company after a call from the Department of Homeland Security.
Oh, and Prince also explains how a huge amount of the Cloudflare’s early success was due to launching at Disrupt — and coming second (“there’s nothing like coming in second as a way to motivate engineers”). Finally, he extends a generous offer to eventual winners Qwiki: “we can help them read out Wikipedia articles even faster.”
I start, though, by asking Prince whether the FBI knocks or just kicks down the door…