Amid censorship storm, Cloudflare makes way for a $4.4B IPO [datagraphic]

September 12, 2019
Cloudflare priced its shares at $15 apiece Thursday, above the high end of its upwardly revised range, raising $525 million in the process. The IPO gives the security and internet services provider an initial market cap of around $4.4 billion, an increase of more than 144% over the $1.8 billion valuation it reached in 2015.

The company joins a host of loss-making tech companies to have hit the public market this year, but its rising revenue and declining losses can be seen as a reason for optimism. However, other headwinds may come into play. Cloudflare's IPO filing acknowledged the risk factors inherent in being unable to control how its clients use its services. Since its inception, Cloudflare has opposed selective censoring unless abiding by a legal order, but its commitment to free speech hasn't always made for smooth sailing. The company's censorship challenges came to a head in 2017, for example, when it dumped The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that made false claims of receiving ideological support from Cloudflare.

While the business continued to block controversial users like 8chan and grappled with adverse feedback on how it vets platform customers, it quietly admitted via an amended IPO filing that it may have submitted inaccurate information to the US government and provided products to customers subject to counterterrorism and counternarcotics trafficking sanctions. It remains to be seen whether Cloudflare's ties to risky customers in one of the most saturated industries weigh on its future as a public company.

We've put together a datagraphic to visualize the numbers surrounding Cloudflare's journey to the public market and its high-profile IPO.

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