Michelle Zatlyn

Michelle Zatlyn

  • Executives
  • Women in Business
  • Country:

    United States

  • Resides:

    San Francisco

  • Hometown:

    Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

  • Known For:

    Co-founder of Cloudflare

  • Education:

    McGill University



Michelle Zatlyn is an entrepreneur and tech leader, best known as the co-founder, president, and COO of Cloudflare, a San Francisco-based company that provides internet security and performance services. She has been named to Fortune’s “40 Under 40” list and Forbes’ “Top 50 Women in Tech” list.[1] [2] While Zatlyn reached billionaire status in 2021 due to her stake in her company, as of 2023, her net worth is estimated at $700 million.[3]


    • Co-founder, president, and COO of Cloudflare

    • Forbes’ “Top 50 Women in Tech”

    • Fortune’s “40 Under 40”

Related People

About Michelle Zatlyn

Zatlyn was born in 1979 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada.[4] She was raised in Prince Albert with her sisters by her father, a lawyer, and her mother, a teacher.[5] She went to school at Prince Albert’s Ecole Holy Cross before attending Carlton Comprehensive High School, where she was the captain of the basketball team.[6] As a teenager, Zatlyn worked in her father’s law office. She also spent a summer as a camp counselor at a special needs summer camp.[7]

Zatlyn commented on her childhood, saying, “I was a very ambitious student and really lucky to have great teachers who supported me and parents and siblings who were cheerleaders along the way.”[6]

She says being ambitious and pursuing opportunities is a part of her DNA. When asked about her first-ever business idea, Zatlyn says, “I created a board game in my junior achievement class, which was my first exposure to learning to create something that people wanted.”[4]

In 2011, Zatlyn married Jamie Sutherland, an entrepreneur from Oakville, Ontario.[8] [9] They now have two children.[10] 

Education and Career

After high school, Zatlyn earned a bachelor’s degree from McGill University in 2001, majoring in chemistry and minoring in business.[11] Though her initial intention was to go to medical school, she instead became fascinated by business.[9] She took a job as a research analyst and consultant at Investor Analytics. She then spent time at I Love Rewards and Toshiba before enrolling in Harvard Business School in 2007 to pursue her Master of Business Administration.[11] 

Zatlyn explained the value of her time in business school, saying, “The program taught me how to have a point of view and make a decision—something you need to do many times a day as a founder. It also taught me how to listen to a diverse group of viewpoints. This is something that I value every day.”[12]

While working on her MBA, Zatlyn interned at Google. Though she expected an offer to stay on at Google after she graduated with her MBA in 2009, due to the economic recession, Google did not extend an offer.[9] Instead, she connected with her MBA classmate Matthew Prince to work on a business plan that would become Cloudflare.[13] 

While Zatlyn is best known for her career at CloudFlare, she has also served on the board of directors for Australian software company Atlassian since 2021.[11] Additionally, she is a regular speaker at C100’s early-stage mentorship event, 48 Hours in the Valley.[4]  


In 2009, Zatlyn teamed up with Matthew Price and Lee Holloway to create CloudFlare.[13]  Zatlyn explains, “While I was at Harvard Business School, I knew I wanted to be part of the next Google before it was Google, or Starbucks before it was Starbucks. And life has a funny way of presenting opportunities. It was then that I met Matthew Prince (co-founder). He was a serial entrepreneur and had all sorts of amazing ideas.”[14] 

When Zatlyn met her co-founders, Price and Holloway had been working on a project called Honey Pot, which tracked email spam and internet threats. After teaming up with Zatlyn, the group built a business plan to expand on Honey Pot to provide a service that blocked internet threats instead of just tracking them.[13]  

Zatlyn, Price, and Holloway presented their business plan at a Harvard pitch competition in 2009. When they won the competition, the team received some minimal funding, introductions to venture capitalists, and some free office space for the summer.[15] The group launched their product in 2010, and it grew into a major success.[13]   

By 2015, CloudFlare saw over 5% of all web traffic run through its network. Five thousand new customers were signing up for Cloudflare each day.[14] Their clients include Canva, Etsy, Walmart, and Best Buy, among many other major companies.[16]

In September 2019, CloudFlare went public, with shares priced at $15.[17] The stock’s value rose 20% on its opening day, and the company’s value was placed at around $5.57 billion.[18] CloudFlare’s stock price continued to rise over the next two years. 

The year CloudFlare went public, Zatlyn explained the success the company had seen, saying, “When we came up with Cloudflare, I knew nothing about internet security, but I care a lot about liking what I’m doing. I knew if I could help create internet security, that’s something I could work hard for and be proud [of]; 10 years later, we have 165 data centers, 12 million domains, and more than 800 employees.”[19]

In November 2021, CloudFlare reached its peak market capitalization at $67.9 billion, but its value declined throughout 2022. As of May 2023, the company’s value is estimated at $15.37 billion.[20] 

Zatlyn has served as chief operating officer at CloudFlare since its founding. She described her responsibilities as COO, saying, “I’m responsible for the go-to-market functions or sales or marketing or customer support teams as well as our people and places.”[21] 

Zatlyn has also held the position of president of CloudFlare since 2020.[11]  


Zatlyn’s accomplishments have been recognized several times by many different organizations and publications. The following is a list of her accolades:

  • Inc. Magazine’s “Top 50 Women to Watch” 2013[22] 
  • Forbes’ “Top 50 Women in Tech” 2018[2] 
  • Fortune’s “40 Under 40” 2017[1] 
  • ELLE’s “Women in Tech” 2015[23] 
  • World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leader[24] 
  • Marie Claire’s 7th Annual New Guard[24] 
  • Forbes’ “Richest Self-Made Women” 2022[25] 
  • C100’s “Icon of Canadian Entrepreneurship” 2019[4] 

Michelle Zatlyn Today

Zatlyn continues to serve as a COO, co-founder, and president of CloudFlare as well as as a board member at Atlassian. She is also a regular speaker at Cloudflare Connect, the company’s flagship event that connects business leaders in the cybersecurity and technology industries.[26]   

Zatlyn is a frequent podcast guest, appearing recently on podcasts like Panic with Friends, Founders Field Guide, Afternoon T, Traction Podcast, and The Decibel Podcast.[27]  


Leaders Media has established sourcing guidelines that rely on credible, expert-level, and primary sources for articles about people and companies. Articles are frequently edited by staff writers. Learn more about our mission, editorial ethics, and how we source references in our editorial policy.

  1. Michelle Zatlyn. (2017). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://fortune.com/ranking/40-under-40/2017/michelle-zatlyn/ 
  2. Popkin, H. A. (2018). The World’s Top 50 Women In Tech. Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/top-tech-women/#6b8f15c94df0   
  3. Michelle Zatlyn (N.d.). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/profile/michelle-zatlyn/  
  4. Goodfield, J. C100’s Charter Members have nominated Michelle Zatlyn as C100’s 2019 “Icon of Canadian Entrepreneurship” | C100. (2023). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.thec100.org/blog-posts/c100s-charter-members-have-nominated-michelle-zatlyn-as-c100s-2019-icon-of-canadian-entrepreneurship 
  5. Faith, HR. Cyber Stewards | Greylock. (2022). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://greylock.com/greymatter/cyber-stewards/ 
  6. Hicks, G. Saskatchewan billionaire, Prince Albert’s Michelle Zatlyn, becomes Wall Street tech titan. (2021). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://panow.com/2021/02/16/saskatchewan-billionaire-prince-alberts-michelle-zatlyn-becomes-wall-street-tech-titan/ 
  7. Yen, M. Operator Spotlight: Cloudflare Co-Founder & COO Michelle Zatlyn. (2020). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.operatorcollective.com/blog-posts/operator-spotlight-cloudflare-co-founder-coo-michelle-zatlyn
  8. MICHELLE & JAMIE–The Knot Registry. (2011). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://registry.theknot.com/michelle-zatlyn-jamie-sutherland-september-2011-ca/2177977   
  9. Martin, C. (2019). Cloudflare co-founder Michelle Zatlyn on why she left med school and fell in love with tech. Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/careers/management/article-cloudflare-co-founder-michelle-zatlyn-on-why-she-left-med-school-and/  
  10. Rodriguez, S. (2016). How this executive balances being a mom and building a billion-dollar company. Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.inc.com/salvador-rodriguez/how-cloudflare-founder-michelle-zatlyn-balances-her-family-and-her-unicorn.html   
  11. Michelle Zatlyn Linkedin. (N.d.). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.linkedin.com/in/michellezatlyn  
  12. Online MBA Skills Drive Entrepreneur Success | WU Blog. (2020). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://online.walsh.edu/news/online-mba 
  13. Our Story. (2023). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.cloudflare.com/our-story/
  14. Volpicelli, A. (2015). We Wanna Be Friends With CloudFlare Cofounder Michelle Zatlyn. Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.7×7.com/we-wanna-be-friends-with-cloudflare-cofounder-michelle-zatlyn-1787217935.html 
  15. Murray, S. Can MBAs create top entrepreneurs?. (2019). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.ft.com/content/511b51c6-14f9-11e9-a168-d45595ad076d 
  16. Molenaar, K. (2022). Top 20 eCommerce Companies Using Cloudflare. Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://influencermarketinghub.com/ecommerce-companies-using-cloudflare/
  17. Palmer, A. (2019). Cloudflare stock pops 20% in first day of trading. Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/13/cloudflare-stock-pops-20percent-in-first-day-of-trading.html 
  18. Singer, D., Tse, C. (2019). Cloudflare Jumps in Trading Debut After Raising $525 Million.  Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-13/cloudflare-jumps-in-trading-debut-after-raising-525-million#xj4y7vzkg 
  19. Martin, C. Michelle Zatlyn: ‘That’s why I fell in love with tech. We’re helping customers and users around the world’; Cloudflare co-founder knew nothing about internet security, but cared a lot about liking what she was doing. (2019). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?p=ITOF&u=wikipedia&id=GALE%7CA573557605&v=2.1&it=r&sid=bookmark-ITOF&asid=4abdb6b5 
  20.  Cloudflare (NET) – Market capitalization. (2023). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://companiesmarketcap.com/cloudflare/marketcap/ 
  21. Building a Much Better Internet with Cloudflare COO Michelle Zatlyn. (2021). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://front.com/blog/video/episode-5-michelle-zatlyn 
  22. Michelle Zatlyn–Apen Institute. Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.aspeninstitute.org/people/michelle-zatlyn/
  23. Friedman, A. (2015). Meet ELLE’s 2015 Women in Tech. Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.elle.com/culture/tech/news/a28764/elle-women-in-tech/ 
  24. Michelle Zatlyn–World Economic Forum. Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.weforum.org/people/michelle-zatlyn
  25. Dolan, K., Peterson-Withorn, C. (2022). America’s Richest Self-Made Women. Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/self-made-women/ 
  26. Cloudflare Connect NYC. (2023). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://events.www.cloudflare.com/connectnyc 
  27. 21 of Michelle Zatlyn Podcasts Interviews | Updated Daily – OwlTail. (2023). Retrieved 9 May 2023, from https://www.owltail.com/people/B9BwF-michelle-zatlyn/appearances 

Any reader who wishes to provide any additions or revisions to this article, including updating any out-of-date information, please email [email protected].