All posts in “Cloud”

Cloudflare says cutting off customers like 8chan is an IPO ‘risk factor’

Networking and web security giant Cloudflare says the recent 8chan controversy may be an ongoing “risk factor” for its business on the back of its upcoming initial public offering.

The San Francisco-based company and former Battlefield finalist, which filed its IPO paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, earlier this month took the rare step of pulling the plug on one of its customers, 8chan, an anonymous message board linked to recent domestic terrorist attacks in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, which killed 31 people. The site is also linked to the shootings in New Zealand, which killed 50 people.

8chan became the second customer to have its service cut off by Cloudflare in the aftermath of the attacks. The first and other time Cloudflare booted one of its customers was neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer in 2017, after it claimed the networking giant was secretly supportive of the website.

Cloudflare, which provides web security and denial-of-service protection for websites, recognizes those customer cut-offs as a risk factor for investors buying shares in the company’s common stock.

“Activities of our paying and free customers or the content of their websites and other Internet properties could cause us to experience significant adverse political, business, and reputational consequences with customers, employees, suppliers, government entities, and other third parties,” the filing said. “Even if we comply with legal obligations to remove or disable customer content, we may maintain relationships with customers that others find hostile, offensive, or inappropriate.”

Cloudflare had long taken a stance of not policing who it provides service to, citing freedom of speech. In a 2015 interview with ZDNet, chief executive Matthew Prince said he didn’t ever want to be in a position where he was making “moral judgments on what’s good and bad,” and would instead defer to the courts.

“If a final court order comes down and says we can’t do something… governments have tanks and guns,” he said.

But since Prince changed his stance on both The Daily Stormer and 8chan, the company recognized it “experienced significant negative publicity” in the aftermath.

“We are aware of some potential customers that have indicated their decision to not subscribe to our products was impacted, at least in part, by the actions of certain of our paying and free customers,” said the filing. “We may also experience other adverse political, business and reputational consequences with prospective and current customers, employees, suppliers, and others related to the activities of our paying and free customers, especially if such hostile, offensive, or inappropriate use is high profile.”

Cloudflare has also come under fire in recent months for allegedly supplying web protection services to sites that promote and support terrorism, including al-Shabaab and the Taliban, both of which are covered under U.S. Treasury sanctions.

In response, the company said it tries “to be neutral,” but wouldn’t comment specifically on the matter.

India’s Reliance Jio inks deal with Microsoft to expand Office 365, Azure to more businesses; unveils broadband, blockchain, and IoT platforms

India’s Reliance Jio, which has disrupted the telecom and features phone businesses in India in less than three years of existence, is now ready to aggressively foray into many more businesses with the help of global giants including Microsoft.

The subsidiary of India’s largest industrial house Reliance Industries today announced that it will commercially launch its optical fiber broadband business next month, an IoT platform on January 1, 2020, and “one of the world’s biggest blockchain networks” in the next 12 months.

The broadband service, called Jio Giga Fiber, is aimed at individual customers, small and medium sized businesses, as well as enterprises, Mukhesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, said at a shareholders meeting Monday. The service, which will be available to consumers starting September 5, will offer free voice calls, high-speed internet and start at Rs 700 per month.

The company also announced a 10-year partnership with Microsoft to leverage the Redmond giant’s Azure, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft AI platforms to launch new cloud datacenters in India to ensure “more of Jio’s customers can access the tools and platforms they need to build their own digital capability,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a video appearance Monday.

“At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Core to this mission is deep partnerships, like the one we are announcing today with Reliance Jio. Our ambition is to help millions of organizations across India thrive and grow in the era of rapid technological change… Together, we will offer a comprehensive technology solution, from compute to storage, to connectivity and productivity for small and medium-sized businesses everywhere in the country,” he added.

As part of the partnership, Nadella said, Jio and Microsoft will jointly offer Office 365 to more organizations in India, and also bring Azure Cognitive Services to more devices and in many Indian languages to businesses in the country. The solutions will be “accessible” to reach as many people and organizations in India as possible, he added.

Ambani also said Jio is working on a “digital stack” to create a new commerce partnership platform in India to reach tens of millions of merchants, consumers, and producers.

More to follow…

Rookout lands $8M Series A to expand debugging platform

Rookout, a startup that provides debugging across a variety of environments including serverless and containers, announced an $8 million Series A investment today. It plans to use the money to expand beyond its debugging roots.

The round was led by Cisco Investments along with existing investors TLV Partners and Emerge. Nat Friedman, CEO of GitHub; John Kodumal, CTO and co-founder of LaunchDarkly, and Raymond Colletti, VP of revenue at Codecov also participated.

Rookout from day one has been working to provide production debugging and collection capabilities to all platforms,” Or Weis, co-founder and CEO of Rookout told TechCrunch. That has included serverless like AWS Lambda, containers and Kubernetes and Platform as a Service like Google App Engine and Elastic Beanstalk

The company is also giving visibility into platforms that are sometimes hard to observe because of the ephemeral nature of the technology, and that go beyond its pure debugging capabilities. “In the last year, we’ve discovered that our customers are finding completely new ways to use Rookout’s code-level data collection capabilities and that we need to accommodate, support and enhance the many varied uses of code-level observability and pipelining,” Weiss said in a statement.

It was particularly telling that a company like Cisco was deeply involved in the round. Rob Salvagno, vice president of Cisco Global Corporate Development and Cisco Investments, likes the developer focus of the company.

“Developers have become key influencers of enterprise IT spend. By collecting data on-demand without re-deploying, Rookout created a Developer-centric software, which short-circuits complexities in the production debugging, increases Developer efficiency and reduces the friction which exists between IT Ops and Developers,” Salvagno said in a statement.

Rookout, which launched in 2017, has offices in San Francisco and Tel Aviv with a total of 20 employees so far. It has raised over $12 million.

Prodly announces $3.5M seed to automate low code cloud deployments

Low code programming is supposed to make things easier on companies, right? Low code means you can count on trained administrators instead of more expensive software engineers to handle most tasks, but like any issue solved by technology, there are always unintended consequences. While running his former company, Steelbrick, which he sold to Salesforce in 2015 for $360 million, Max Rudman identified a persistent problem with low-code deployments. He decided to fix it with automation and testing, and the idea for his latest venture, Prodly, was born.

The company announced a $3.5 million seed round today, but more important than the money is the customer momentum. In spite of being a very early-stage startup, the company already has 100 customers using the product, a testament to the fact that other people were probably experiencing that same pain point Rudman was feeling, and there is a clear market for his idea.

As Rudman learned with his former company, going live with the data on a platform like Salesforce is just part of the journey. If you are updating configuration and pricing information on a regular basis, that means updating all the tables associated with that information. Sure, it’s been designed to be point and click, but if you have changes across 48 tables, it becomes a very tedious task, indeed.

The idea behind Prodly is to automate much of the configuration, provide a testing environment to be sure all of the information is correct, and finally automate deployment. For now, the company is just concentrating on configuration, but with the funding it plans to expand the product to solve the other problems as well.

Rudman is careful to point out that his company’s solution is not built strictly for the Salesforce platform. The startup is taking aim at Salesforce admins for its first go-round, but he sees the same problem with other cloud services that make heavy use of trained administrators to make changes.

“The plan is to start with Salesforce, but this problem actually exists on most cloud platforms — ServiceNow, Workday — none of them have the tools we have focused on for admins, and making the admins more productive and building the tooling that they need to efficiently manage a complex application,” Rudman told TechCrunch.

Customers include Nutanix, Johnson & Johnson, Splunk, Tableau and Verizon (which owns this publication). The $3.5 million round was led by Shasta Ventures with participation from Norwest Venture Partners.

DigitalOcean gets a new CEO and CFO

DigitalOcean, the cloud infrastructure service that made a name for itself by focusing on low-cost hosting options in its early days, today announced that it has appointed former SendGrid COO and CFO Yancey Spruill as its new CEO and former EnerNOC CFO Bill Sorenson as its new CFO. Spruill will replace Mark Templeton, who only joined the company a little more than a year ago and who had announced his decision to step down for personal reasons in May of this year.

DigitalOcean is a brand I’ve followed and admired for a while — the leadership team has done a tremendous job building out the products, services and, most importantly, a community, that puts developer needs first,” said Spruill in today’s announcement. “We have a multi-billion dollar revenue opportunity in front of us and I’m looking forward to working closely with our strong leadership team to build upon the current strategy to drive DigitalOcean to the company’s full potential.”

Spruill das have a lot of experience, given that he was in CxO positions at SendGrid through both its IPO in 2017 and its sales to Twilio in 2019. He also previously held the CFO role at DigitalGlobe, which he also guided to an IPO.

In his announcement, Spruill notes that he expects DigitalOcean to focus on its core business, which currently has about 500,000 users (though it’s unclear how many of those are active, paying users). “My aspiration is for us to continue to provide everything you love about DO now, but to also enhance our offerings in a way that is meaningful, strategic and most helpful for you over time,” he writes.

Spruill’s history as CFO includes its fair share of IPOs and sales, but so does Sorenson’s. As CFO at EnerNOC, he guided that company to a sale to investor Enel Group. Before that, he led business intelligence firm Qlikto an IPO.

It’s not unusual for incoming CEOs and CFO’s to have this kind of experience, but it does make you wonder what DigitalOcean’s future holds in store. The company isn’t as hyped as it once was and while it still offers one of the best user experiences for developers, it remains a relatively small player in the overall cloud game. That’s a growing market, but the large companies — the ones that bring in the majority of revenue — are looking to Amazon, Microsoft and Google for their cloud infrastructure. Even a small piece of the overall cloud pie can be quite lucrative, but I think DigitalOcean’s ambitions go beyond that.