EE204: Business Management for
Electrical Engineers and Computer Scientists



Scaling a Startup

Read

  1. CloudFlare: Running Hot? (HBS course materials)
  2. Scaling a Startup: People and Organizational Issues (HBS course materials)

Case Summary

In July 2012, the cofounders of CloudFlare, a Silicon Valley startup that protects websites and accelerates their traffic, are considering the implications of five employees' resignations over the prior three months. Was this natural attrition for a high-tech venture with a staff of 35 experiencing explosive growth, or were the resignations symptomatic of bigger issues with CloudFlare's culture and management processes? After describing CloudFlare's early history, business model, organization structure, and human resources policies, the case presents first-person accounts from employees regarding their reasons for resigning, and then asks whether CloudFlare's cofounders should take any corrective actions.

Discussion Questions

  1. What business is CloudFlare in?
  2. How does CloudFlare recruit new talent?
  3. What characteristics attracted key talent to CloudFlare?
  4. What kind of company culture did the founders cultivate at CloudFlare?
  5. What phase of company evolution is CloudFlare in? What evidence in the case supports your assessment?
  6. What internal and external pressures are the senior management at CloudFlare experiencing?
  7. What are the critical communication and decision paths at CloudFlare? How are they currently managed?
  8. Review the five resignations. What caused each to resign?
  9. What steps has CloudFlare taken to alleviate these concerns? Are they sufficient?
  10. What is the root cause of the resignations at CloudFlare?
  11. What more should CloudFlare do to recruit and retain key talent?
  12. What advice would you give the CloudFlare founders to help the company grow into a major force in the Content Delivery Market?