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Cloudflare co-founder Michelle Zatlyn on the company’s IPO today, its unique dual class structure, and what’s next

Shares of Cloudflare rose 20% today in its first day of trading on the public market, opening trading at $18 after it priced its IPO at $15 a share yesterday and holding steady through the day.

Put another way, the performance of the nine-year-old company — which provides cloud-based network services to enterprises — was relatively undramatic as these things go. That’s a good thing, given that first-day “pops” often signal that a company has left money on the table. Indeed, Cloudflare had initially indicated that its shares would be priced between $10 and $12, before adjusting the price upward, which suggests its underwriters, led by Goldman Sachs, fairly accurately gauged demand for the offering.

Of course, it was still a very big day for Cloudlfare’s 1,069 employees and especially for Cloudflare’s founders Matthew Prince, its CEO, and Michelle Zatlyn, its COO. We talked with Zatlyn today in the hours after the duo rang the opening bell to ask about the experience, and how the IPO impacts the company going forward. Our chat has been edited lightly for length and clarity.

TC: Thanks for making time for us on a busy day.

MZ: Of course! [TechCrunch’s] Battlefield [competition, in which Cloudflare competed in 2011] is such an integral part of our funding story. Thank you for giving us the stage to launch our company.

TC: Did you get any sleep last night?

MZ: I was so exhausted that I got a great night’s sleep. This whole process has been so incredible, so special. I didn’t know what to expect, and it’s been way better than I could have imagined. There are 150 of our teammates, early employees, family members, board members, champions and other friends here with us [in New York at the NYSE]. We also live-streamed [our debut] to our offices around the world so they could share this moment with us.

TC: How are you feeling about today? The stock is up 20%. There’s always banter afterward about whether a listing was priced right, whether any money was left on the table.

MZ: At this point, we’ve raised almost a billion dollars between today and all of the money we’ve raised from venture investors. We have a great team. We’re really happy. The markets are going to react how they react, but it’s part of our DNA to provide more value than we capture. We think that’s the way to build an enduring company.

TC: You have a liquid currency now. Do you imagine Cloudflare might become more acquisitive as a public company?

MZ: We’ve done some acquisitions on the smaller side and of course, we have a team that’s always looking at different opportunities. But we’re really engineering-driven, and we think we have many products and services left to build, so we’ll continue to invest in our products and in R&D development, as well as in our customer relationships.

TC: Retaining employees is a challenge that some newly public companies worry about. How will you address this in the coming days and months as lock-up periods expire?

MZ: I’m so proud of where we are today and of our whole team, and we’re just getting started. [Matthew and I will] show up Monday morning and get back to work and so will our employees, because they want to make the company [an even greater business].

TC: The company went public with a dual-class structure that gives not just management but all employees 10 times the voting rights of the shares sold to the public. Why was this structure important to Cloudflare, and did it give investors pause?

MZ: There are more than 1,000 people around the world who are building the product and working with customers, and we think it’s important for them to have that 10:1 structure, so it’s something we put in place a few years ago with the encouragement of some of our earlier investors.

TC: Were you modeling this after another company? Is there a precedent for it?

MZ: I don’t know of another one — there may be — but we weren’t inspired by another company. We just felt passionately about this being the right corporate structure and [I don’t think it was harder for us to tell the story of Cloudflare because of it]. Over the last two weeks, in talking with investors across the world, it wasn’t in the top 10 topics that came up, so I think we did a good job of describing it in our S-1.

TC: What was the roadshow like? What surprised you most?

MZ: Don’t get me wrong, there’s a ton of work involved from all kinds of people, in finance, our legal teams … But roadshows have a bad rap in that people think they’re grueling and that, by the end, you’ll be exhausted. That was my expectation. But it was really fun. It was a huge privilege to represent Cloudflare to all these investors who were incredibly smart and well-prepared. We traveled all over and people told us ‘You look better than most teams.’

Michelle Zatlyn

TC: Where does one go for these roadshows?

MZ: You have the usual suspects; there’s a travel roadshow circuit, with some variations based on people’s vacation schedules, but New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Baltimore is common, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Toronto. You go in person to some places and in others, people dial in. But the whole thing gave me new insight into these pools of capital after venture capital. It was really interesting.

TC: Cloudflare said in a recent amendment to its S-1 that it was in touch with the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control back in May after determining that its products were used by individuals and entities that have been blacklisted by the U.S. Did this new revelation slow anything down?

MZ: There was no impact. Your group of advisors expands when you go through a public offering, and lawyers dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t,’ and you become a better company for it.

We deliver cybersecurity solutions that are made broadly available to businesses, entrepreneurs and nonprofits, and that’s incredible, but there are also some unsavory actors online, and we’ve always been a transparent organization [about having to grapple with this].

TC: How will Cloudflare handle requests for service by embargoed and restricted entities going forward? As a public company, does that process change in any way?

MZ: We have a really good process today. I think people think that we let anyone use Cloudflare and that’s it. But if customers are breaking the law, we remove them from our network and that’s not new and we publish transparency reports on it.

Sometimes, [you’re confronting] things that aren’t illegal but they’re gross, and the question is whose job is it to take it offline. But I work with some of the smartest minds on this and we try to be very transparent about how we figure this out. The conversation is so much better than it was a few years ago, too, with policy makers and academics and the business community engaging on this. People around the world are talking about where the lines can be drawn, but these are tricky, heady conversations.

TC: They certainly put Cloudflare in a precarious spot sometimes, as when the company banned the internet forum 8chan earlier this year after it was learned that the site was used by a gunman to post an anti-immigration rant. Can we expect that Cloudflare will continue to make decisions like this on a case-by-case basis?

MZ: Freedom of speech is such a fundamental part of this nation. Citizens should want the lawmakers to decide what the law should be, and if lawmakers could do this, it would be much better. On the other side, these are new issues that are arising so we shouldn’t rush. Lots of opinions need to be weighed and conversations are much further along than they once were, but there’s still work to be done, and Cloudflare is one [participant] in a much broader conversation.

Lyft investors are banking on self-driving cars, not ride-sharing

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Lyft became the first ride-hailing app to go public on Friday, skyrocketing to a $23.4 billion valuation.

But don’t get too excited for drivers. Investments in Uber and Lyft are basically big bets on future products like autonomous vehicles, not the people behind the wheel. 

As we’ve seen, Lyft isn’t profitable. Last year it lost nearly $1 billion. So it’s not Lyft’s cash flow bringing in investors — it’s the company’s growth and the potential of its platform. 

“Wall Street is infamous for caring more about growth than profits,” said Investing.com senior analyst Clement Thibault in an email. “Lyft is likely to get a pass on profitability if it can manage to continue its impressive growth streak.” Read more…

More about Ipo, Lyft, Ride Hailing Apps, Autonomous Vehicles, and Tech

Cootek, the Chinese maker of TouchPal keyboard, files for $100M US IPO

Cootek, the Chinese mobile internet company best known for keyboard app TouchPal, has filed for a public offering in the United States. In its F-1 form, submitted last week to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Cootek said it wants to raise up to $100 million.

The Shanghai-based company began operating in 2008, when TouchPal was launched, and incorporated as CooTek in March 2012. In its SEC filing, Cootek said it currently has 132 million daily active users, with average DAUs increasing 75% year-over-year as of June. It also said it achieved 453% total ad revenue growth in the six month period before June.

While AI-based TouchPal, which offers glide typing and predictive text, is Cootek’s most popular product, it also has 15 other apps in its portfolio, including fitness apps HiFit and ManFIT and a virtual assistant called Talia. The company uses its proprietary AI and big data technology to analyze language data collected from users and the Internet. Then it uses those insights to develop lifestyle, healthcare and entertainment apps. Together, those 15 apps reached an average of 22.2 million monthly average users and 7.3 million daily average users in June.

TouchPal itself had 125.4 million daily average users in June 2018, with active users launching the app an average of 72 times a day. It currently supports 110 languages.

Most of Cootek’s revenue comes from mobile advertising. It says net revenue grew from $11 million in 2016 to $37.3 million in 2017, or 238.5% year-over-year, while its net loss dropped from $30.7 million in 2016 to $23.7 million in 2017. It achieved net income of $3.5 million for the six months ending in June, compared to a net loss of $16.2 million in the same period a year ago.

Cootek plans to be listed under the ticker symbol CTK on the New York Stock Exchange and will use the IPO’s proceeds to grow its user base, invest in AI and natural language processing tech and improve advertising performance. The offering will be underwritten by underwritten by Credit Suisse, BofA Merrill Lync and Citi.

Netgear’s Arlo security camera spin-off files for IPO

Netgear’s Arlo wing has been a surprise hit for the networking company. The line of cameras are relatively new to the market, but they’ve utterly dominated the connected security space, breathing new life into the company in the process.

Back in February, Netgear spun off Arlo, courtesy of unanimous board approval and announced plans to file an IPO in the process. That bit came to fruition this week, as the company filed an S-1 form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The security camera company has also applied for the “ARLO” ticker symbol with the New York Stock Exchange. Makes sense.

As it notes in a press release tied to the news, neither the number of shares nor price range have been determined yet. Earlier this year, however, it suggested that it would issue less than 20 percent of common stock, while retaining interest on the rest. As usual, all of this is pending approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

According to the company, “BofA Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank Securities, and Guggenheim Securities are acting as lead book-running managers for the proposed offering. Raymond James, Cowen and Imperial Capital are acting as joint book-running managers for the proposed offering.”

The Arlo line has been highly successful for Netgear, in spite of it playing in a crowded market alongside the likes of Ring, Nest and Canary. The unit effectively doubled revenue between 2016 and 2017, as connected home devices pushed toward mainstream acceptance.

Pluralsight prices its IPO at $15 per share, raising over $300M

Pluralsight priced the shares in its IPO at $15 this afternoon, above its previously set target range of between $12 and $14, and will raise as much as $357 million ahead of its public debut tomorrow morning.

Pluralsight offers software development courses, specifically ones targeting employees that are looking to advance in their careers by acquiring new skills in order to transition to higher-level roles. As knowledge workers become increasingly valuable, especially in larger enterprises with sprawling workforces, companies like Pluralsight have found a sweet spot in building tools that enable companies to help identify talent in their own workforce and train them, rather than have to aggressively search outside the company to satisfy their needs. The company has raised $310.5 million in its IPO, with underwriters having the option to purchase an additional 3.1 million shares and bring that up to $357 million.

The company is one of a continuing wave of enterprise IPOs this year, including multiple successful ones like zScalar and Dropbox — the latter of which was more of a flagship as both a hotly-anticipated one and as a company that possesses a unique business model. But nonetheless, it’s shown that there’s an appetite for enterprise startups looking to go public, which offers those companies a way to raise capital in addition to offering their employees liquidity.

Pluralsight will be another of an increasing pack of unicorns in the Utah tech scene that are on their way to going public. Founded in 2004, Pluralsight was largely bootstrapped until its first financing round in 2013 where it raised $27.5 million from Insight Venture Partners. That firm is the company’s largest shareholder, and since then Pluralsight has raised nearly $200 million in financing.

Its The company’s IPO tomorrow will once again test the appetite for fresh IPOs among public investors. Enterprise companies generally offer a more stable batch for venture portfolios, with predictable and reliable growth that eventually carries it to an IPO with varying levels of success. They’re smaller than blockbuster consumer-ish IPOs, but they are the ones that can provide a stable return for funds like IVP.

Cardlytics up 3% following IPO, raised $70 million

 Atlanta-based Cardlytics made its public debut on Friday, closing the day at $13.37, just a little above the IPO price of $13. The company sold 5.4 million shares, raising $70 million. Cardlytics works with financial institutions like Bank of America and 2,000 others to run cash back programs. It partners with brands across restaurant, retail, travel, grocery and home subscription categories… Read More

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Crunch Report | SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch Planned for November

Falcon Heavy launch is set for November, i.am+ acquires Wink and Stitch Fix has confidentially filed for an IPO. All this on Cruch Report. Read More

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Crunch Report | Elon Musk’s Tunnel Vision Gets Rendered

Elon Musk shows off a video about his tunnel boring company, The Boring Company, a self-driving Apple test vehicle is spotted in the wild and Cloudera and Carvana each price their IPO at $15; one does well, the other not so much. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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Crunch Report | YouTube now blocking ads on low-view channels

YouTube is now blocking ads on channels with less than 10,000 views, Amazon pulls Diapers.com and other Quidsi apps and Spotify’s invisible IPO. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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Crunch Report | SpaceX Successfully Re-launches a Rocket

Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey leaves Facebook, SpaceX successfully re-launches a rocket, Cloudera files for IPO and Snapchat now allows you to search Stories. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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Crunch Report | New Samsung Galaxy S8 & S8+ Phones

Samsung releases its new phones the S8 and S8+, pet-sitting companies Rover and DogVacay merge, Lyft launches Lyft Shuttle, a new feature that works like a bus route, and five reasons why BuzzFeed is going public. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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Snap has already tumbled 11% on day four

 Snap, the parent of Snapchat, had a great first two days on the stock market, only to be followed by two terrible ones. Shares quickly tumbled to beneath $22, an over 11% drop in morning trading. This means that most investors are already losing money on the social media company. Snap opened Thursday at $24 per share. It is still above its $17 IPO price, but that’s mainly relevant for… Read More

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App platform company MuleSoft files for IPO

MuleSoft___Integration_Platform_for_Connecting_SaaS_and_Enterprise_Applications MuleSoft is the latest “unicorn” to file for an IPO. The company, which helps businesses like Netflix and Spotify with their APIs, has unveiled its financials to the public in an S-1 filing, suggesting that they are targeting a debut as soon as March. The size of the proposed IPO is $100 million, but that is subject to change. In the filing we see that MuleSoft had $187.7… Read More

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Crunch Report | Snap files publicly for its massive IPO

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CEO Evan Spiegel’s Snap ownership is worth about $3.5 billion

snapchat-ads Snapchat parent Snap Inc. has finally revealed its long-awaited IPO filing. The social messaging company, which plans to go public in early March, just shared details about its growth trajectory and financials.  And while we knew that Snap has raised at least $2.4 billion in capital from a long list of investors, we now know the ownership percentages. We also know the pre-IPO values of… Read More

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Snap will reportedly file publicly for its massive IPO late next week

Evan Spiegel Snap — the makers of Snapchat — had confidentially filed for its IPO late last year, but it looks like we’ll be getting a look at the inner guts of the company’s financials and workings as early as late next week. The company will file publicly for its initial public offering late next week, according to a new report from Kara Swisher over at Recode. This is yet… Read More

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