CloudFlare gets $20M to make the web safe — and fast

Web security startup CloudFlare has raised $20 million in a series B funding round led by New Enterprise Associates. The San Francisco-based company plans to use the money to build out its infrastructure and hire more employees.

CloudFlare makes a cloud-based software program that purportedly helps protect websites from security violations such as malware and denial of service attacks. CloudFlare says its product, which can be installed on any website through a simple change in its domain’s DNS settings, also helps websites load faster, since abusive bots and crawlers waste bandwidth and server resources.

$20 million is definitely a lot of money — but effective security tools have the potential to be hugely lucrative in the months and years ahead. As more people come online, website security will almost certainly become an increasingly important issue. With fresh money in its coffers, CloudFlare says it is now poised to rise to the growing challenge of keeping the web safe. “CloudFlare now has the team, technology, investors and resources to realize our vision of powering a faster, safer Internet,” said CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince said in a statement released Tuesday.

CloudFlare’s service is available in a free version and a “pro” version with more controls that costs $20 per month. An enterprise version with additional features is on the way, according to the company’s website. CloudFlare, which evolved out of the free open source spam protection network Project Honey Pot, currently runs its platform across 12 different data centers located worldwide.

CloudFlare has seen a lot of growth since its September 2010 launch. The service now powers more than 7 billion page views per month, and the company claims that more than 10 percent of Internet users worldwide have passed through a CloudFlare site in the last month. Even the now-defunct web hacker group LulzSec said it was a fan of the CloudFlare service — and Tweeted the company’s founder asking for a free premium account. CloudFlare does not break down how many of its users are paying customers.

Pelion Venture Partners and Venrock Associates, who previously led CloudFlare’s $2 million series A venture capital raise, also participated in the company’s latest funding round.