Some 400,000 people applied for just 1,300 roles at Cloudflare in 2022, amid mass layoffs in the tech sector.
The figures were revealed in the security and internet performance company’s fiscal 2022 earnings call.
One of the big stories of recent years was white hot competition for tech talent. As JP Morgan's Global CIO Lori Beer told The Stack in mid-2021: "We are in one of the hottest tech markets that I’ve ever seen."
The figures reveal the extent to which that narrative has been flipped on its head.
There is now big competition for open roles as mass layoffs across swathes of the industry bring hundreds of thousands of talented developers, data scientists, pen testers and others back into the technology job market.
CEO Matthew Prince told analysts: “Around this time last year, we began slowing our pace of hiring to ensure we didn't get over our skis. That's paid off and kept us from having to take more drastic actions like many of our peers. It's also given us the ability to sensibly invest in our team as amazing talent comes on the market.”
Cloudflare’s 2022 earnings (revenues of $975.2 million; up 49% year-over-year; net loss of $193.4 million vs $260.3 million for fiscal 2021) were positive for the company but Prince admitted there was work to do.
He said: “While our innovation engine is best in the industry and has unlocked the $125 billion total addressable market... if we're honest with ourselves, our go-to-market organisation hasn't yet been fully optimised.
“As our products to become more complicated and we are selling to larger and larger customers, it's increasingly clear that we need to step up our game… [briefed on this recently by a new CMO] my initial reaction, if I'm honest, was embarrassment, over some of the basic things we should have been doing better."
“But my second reaction was excitement that there are so many opportunities for us to improve.”
Cloudflare earnings: OpenAI a notable new customer
The company said AI companies were becoming a notable part of their customer base, hinting that OpenAI/ChatGPT had been a recent notable customer, saying: “A leading generative AI company signed a one-year $1 million deal. The company had been a user of our free tier since 2017. And this deal originally started out as a relatively small gateway DNS opportunity to replace Cisco umbrella.
"However, when their browser-based application debuted in late November [the date that ChatGPT launched], demand for the company's AI-generated content absolutely exploded with unprecedented rates of adoption. Their Azure front door set are quickly proved insufficient at handling the massive load on their services from legitimate users, as well as keeping fraudulent users from exhausting their resources.
“They started off with CDM, DDoS, bot management, gateway DNS, and more. We are actively exploring various paths for expansion to support their incredible growth, as well as emerging use cases of their AI models and applications with cloud leer workers, API shields, imagery sizing, and more” said Prince.
He added: “AI companies, in particular, need to find wherever it's most cost effective to run their models across multiple different cloud providers. They are, by their very nature, multi-cloud, but the data egress policies make it prohibitive to move large training sets between the cloud and our Cloudflare Workers. What we're finding with these AI companies is that R2 [Cloudflare’s storage offering]... has become the natural neutral place for these AI companies to store their training data in order to make sure it can be inexpensively and efficiently access from anywhere.
“It's obvious in retrospect. But it's the use case we didn't anticipate. Today, our largest R2 customer is another AI company using us for exactly the purpose of being a neutral place to store their training data.