DAVOS, Switzerland — Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince is standing by the secure networking company's decision to keep operating in Russia even as most Western companies have pulled out of the country for its war on Ukraine.
"We pulled out of any sanctioned or related-to-sanctioned parties — but there are a couple things," Prince said on Yahoo Finance Live on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (video above). "First, there are a number of people in Russia who are speaking out against the Putin regime, and we need to protect them from attacks by the Putin regime."
Prince, who noted that noted Cloudflare has no employees in the country, added that "the other thing which has been important is that ... there's actually been an uptick in Russians trying to get to Western news, uncensored news. And Cloudflare runs a service called 188.8.131.52, which, for a period of time, for the last few months, has been either the number one, two, or three app in the Russian App Store. And that's how a lot of Russians are getting information about that."
Cloudflare is only able to provide that service "because we continue to run infrastructure there. And it's something that working with Western governments, they've encouraged us to continue to do."
To be sure, the number of Western companies ceasing operations in Russia and taking other actions continues to grow.
On Monday, coffee giant Starbucks announced the decision to exit Russia after pausing its operations in Russia back in March. The decision came on the same day that a McDonald's "Golden Arches" sign was removed from a company restaurant near Moscow as the company winds down operations in the country.
Other companies taking sweeping actions against Russia include BP, ExxonMobil, and Yum! Brands.
Prince stressed that those companies should be pulling out of Russia given that they aren't providing essential services like protecting speech and access to factual news.
"If you're selling soda pop, obviously, you should be pulling out, or French fries," he said. "But if you're making sure that the internet stays accessible to the people in Russia, we think that it's actually an important thing to show them what's going on in the rest of the world."