How to Build a Better Company as well as a Better Internet | Matthew Prince and Michelle Zatlyn on Starting Greatness with Mike Maples

Check out the Starting Greatness Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • The creation and maintenance of your start-up’s foundational team is critical for success
    • If there is a conflict around responsibilities, you have the wrong founding team
    • The greatest start-ups have a valuable mission and have a team that enjoys working together
  • Inbound recruiting processes are much more valuable to hiring talented and long-term employees
    • Cloudflare utilizes a blog to consistently communicate the company’s current problems, processes, technology, and goals to the public. Then, potential candidates come to them.
  • Understand if your employees value title hierarchy or product success, these different environments can benefit or hinder start-up growth
    • Growth solves a lot of problems – opens exponential opportunity to scale, hire talented people, etc.

Intro

  • Matthew Prince (@eastdakota) and Michelle Zatlyn (@zatlyn) are co-founders of Cloudflare, a web performance and security company. In this episode, they speak with Mike Maples to discuss Cloudflare’s journey as a successful start-up and the importance of employee retention and recruiting.
  • Host: Mike Maples (@m2jr)

Cloudflare

  • Started with the goal of building a better internet, beginning the journey in 2009
  • The main function is providing network and infrastructure for fast, reliable, and secure internet to everyone
    • It operates in over 100 countries
  • The product began as a spam detector, evolved into a project that took action against hackers and spammers known as Project Honey Pot, then grew into modern-day Cloudflare which focuses on providing a safe internet experience
  • Michelle coins Matthew as an “idea printing press”
  • Initially, Cloudflare was the only privately funded company at Venrock Capital that wasn’t healthcare centered
  • Keeping up with user growth has been the biggest challenge

Start-Up Lessons

  • It’s too scary to do it by yourself; build a team with diverse abilities to support the vision
  • Started with high school friends, but friendship suffered by the end
    • Their skills had too much overlap in responsibility causing friction
    • If there is a conflict around responsibilities, you have the wrong founding team
  • Human beings tend to say no to opportunities; not all great opportunities are ‘shiny’ to begin with
  • Pareto Thinking – start-ups often follow this rule, 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes
  • Growth solves a lot of problems – opens exponential opportunity to scale, hire talented people, etc.
  • Obssess over ‘ease of use’

Recruiting & Retention

  • Employee retention in start-up culture is vital – your foundational team of early hires must buy into the product vision and optimize the work for them
    • Look for people that are under-employed, people that are not currently utilizing their skills to their maximum potential
  • Retention on average for a silicon valley tech company is 18 months
    • Shows the disconnect in working for the company vs working for yourself
  • Always be recruiting, building, and maintaining a talented team. This is important for pacing with innovation.
  • Matthew and Michelle spend 1/3 of their time on recruiting
    • You’re recruiting for the jobs and positions you’ll need in the future
  • Communicate your company’s problems, processes, technology, and goals to the public, Cloudflare utilizes a blog
    • This produces inbound candidate flow
  • Understand how your start-up communicates values around hierarchical titles vs valuing the product’s growth
  • Fairness matters, be restlessly formulaic with the clear structure of your job offers and performance metrics

Additional Notes

  • The greatest start-ups have a valuable mission and have a team that enjoys working together
Starting Greatness with Mike Maples : , , ,
Notes By Drew Waterstreet

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