Q. You've structured your offerings as multiple hosting brands, with separate identities for ValueWeb, SkyNetWeb, Bigstep, HostSave and WinSave. What have been the benefits and challenges of this approach, as opposed to a unified brand?
A. Quite simply, we have different brands because they target different audiences. Offering multiple brands enables us to speak directly to that audience. What a tech-savvy customer needs from a hosting company is different from what a small business owner with zero technology background may need. Multiple brands allow us to communicate to that audience in a vernacular they understand. Providing the six elements of our value proposition means different things to different kinds of customers - having multiple brands helps us achieve this.
Q. Last year was a huge one for EV1Servers, as your company had a big influx of new customers, rebranded itself, and wrestled with growing pains that tested your infrastructure. What was 2003 like for you?
A. 2003 was the best - and at the same time most difficult - year of my life. Our team made a long list of accomplishments: we began offering first cPanel, then Windows hosting, then domain registration and SSL certificates. We also overcame a lot of challenges. I'm particularly proud that not one customer suffered a single second of outage when a transformer explosion in June cut off our utility power for six days. Most importantly, 2003 made us a better company. We ended the year with a more secure network, a stronger and more experienced team, and a new data center whose first phase will see us through our next 12,000 servers. I think this puts us in a great position to make even more progress in 2004.
Q: Rackspace considered going public prior to the downturn in the tech market. Is Rackspace still considering an IPO? What are the key factors for you in deciding whether and when to go public?
A: Fortunately, we are profitable and don't need to go public in order to fund our growth. Instead of focusing on an IPO, we concentrate on building our business for the long haul and creating the best hosting brand in the world. That said, an IPO is something we may consider in the future.
"I see (hosting prices) getting more competitive," said Parsons. "Hosting is getting to be a commodity. It truly is."
As European providers and domain registrars expand into the US hosting market, low-priced hosting plans are a potent tool to gain attention and market share. Go Daddy, the fastest-growing domain registrar with more than 3.6 million registrations, recently introduced shared hosting accounts ranging in price from $3.95 to $9.95.
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