Episode 32: Michelle Zatlyn, Co-founder & COO of Cloudflare, on Trying an Idea to Building an Enduring SaaS Company

Michelle Zatlyn is Co-founder and COO of Cloudflare, a leading Internet security, performance, and reliability company that was named to CNBC’s Disruptor 50 List, selected by the Wall Street Journal as the Most Innovative Internet Technology Company for two successive years, and named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. Before co-founding Cloudflare, Michelle held positions at Google and Toshiba and launched two successful startups. She holds a BS degree, with distinction, from McGill University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was awarded the Dubliner Prize for Entrepreneurship.

Michelle has been named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, one of the Top 15 Women to Watch in Tech by Inc. magazine, and a 40 Under 40 leader by San Francisco Business Times. She was also featured as one of the Women Who Rule Silicon Valley in an issue of ELLE magazine.

In this episode, we learn why Michelle turned down a job at LinkedIn in June 2009 to pursue an idea that started as a school project with Matthew Prince and Lee Holloway at HBS and ultimately turned into Cloudflare. Among Michelle’s recommendations to founders is to think about cofounders as Venn diagrams in an effort to cover as much surface area as possible. She also encourages founders to go after something you’re “proud" of, not necessarily something you are “passionate” about. Cloudflare has maintained its momentum by creating a culture of shipping projects fast, empowering team members to showcase their work and be human.