$12.5 billion Cloudflare is celebrating its 10th birthday with a new ‘privacy-first’ way for websites to track their users, as it takes on Google Analytics (NET, GOOG)
- The cybersecurity company Cloudflare launched free new “privacy-first” website analytics tools on Tuesday to mark its 10th birthday — a rival to the very popular Google Analytics tool.
- CEO Matthew Prince said Cloudflare’s tradition of giving free tools on its birthday “will be in my obituary some day.”
- In a bit of irony, Cloudflare and Google share the same birthday, and Prince interviewed former Google CEO Eric Schmidt on a Monday webcast.
- An analyst said Cloudflare is making a statement that it wants to change how user data is treated in the new era of cloud computing.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The $12.5 billion cybersecurity company Cloudflare is celebrating its 10th birthday by launching a free new “privacy-first” alternative to Google Analytics. The new tool continues what CEO Matthew Prince calls “a great tradition for us of extending free things we can do that solve core problems of the internet.”
Using the measurement of “visits” instead of unique pageviews, Cloudflare Privacy Analytics records how users engage with a website, including what pages they visit, where the users are located, and where they go next online – without tracking them further after they leave.
The new analytics tool will appear on Cloudflare customers’ dashboards Tuesday, and soon be available for any website owners to add to their site for free.
In an interview with Business Insider, Prince said the new tool continues a birthday tradition that Cloudflare has established of providing free access to web tools. In 2014 the company extended Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption for free to millions of websites, helping secure them from data theft. Last year, the company’s birthday was a week-long affair which saw the launch of new features including WARP, a free offering that promises to speed up consumers’ internet connections.
These birthday announcements “will be in my obituary some day,” Prince said in an interview with Business Insider. “I’m really proud of them.”
The new tool is a major departure from previous analytics tools that are “siphoning down huge amounts of data, but don’t need to be,” Prince said. “Google Analytics started out as a great way” to provide website owners data,”but it has become an enormous source of traffic data for Google.”
“Google’s business model is to sell advertising,” Prince said. “Literally everywhere you go online you’re being monitored by one company. It’s just creepy.”
Cloudflare is making a statement with the analytics declaration, says analyst Alex Henderson, who follows Cloudflare for the investment banking firm Needham & Co. “They are in a position to see a lot of web traffic. There have been a lot of questions about the privacy practices of Facebook, TikTok, and other companies. I think they are quite clearly saying that they do not want to be in that camp, and that they do not want to compromise the security of individual users.”
Cloudflare said in a blog post that its business “has never been built around tracking users or selling advertising. We don’t want to know what you do on the Internet – it’s not our business.”
In the blog post the company said the new tool is “a big departure from popular web analytics offerings, which require a website owner to hand over a bunch of their own private data as well as their customers’ data in order to access analytics for their site. Google Analytics, for example, tracks individuals across the web and uses that information to retarget them with ads.”
In a bit of an irony, Cloudflare’s birthday – which was Sunday – is also Google’s. The search giant just turned 22, as compared to Cloudflare turning 10. On Monday, Prince interviewed former Google CEO Eric Schmidt on Cloudflare’s streaming video channel, Cloudflare TV. Prince asked Schmidt how he got connected to the company, which he led from 2001-2011. “I got a phone call to interview for the job, and I said, ‘Search won’t matter. It won’t be very important.'” That view changed.
Cloudflare is interviewing other tech leaders this week and making more birthday announcements in the next few days.
Do Monday’s interview between Prince and Schmidt and the new approach to analytics represent a passing of the torch from one tech titan to a rising powerhouse with the same birthday? “They’re very different companies,” says Henderson. “But will Cloudflare become a major company? Absolutely. There is no doubt in my mind.”