is the world's 10th-largest host, based on its 216K active sites. Based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Affinity is best recognized for ValueWeb, the largest of its six hosting brands. Affinity CEO Peter Chambers guides the company's strategic direction and day-to-day operations. In our interview, Chambers discussed Affinity's approach to customizing its brands to target segments of the hosting market.
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.
As the CEO and "HeadSurfer" of EV1Servers
, Robert Marsh has directed the
Houston-based dedicated server company through spectacular growth.
In our interview, Marsh shares his thoughts on EV1's success, the high cost of domains and SSL certificates, and the difference between "affordable" and
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.
1&1 Internet AG
is the world's largest hosting company, with 3.5 million hostnames and 1.7 million active sites. On Jan. 22nd, 1&1 will officially launch its US hosting unit, having attracted tens of thousands of users with a pre-launch promotion offering three years of free hosting. 1&1 CEO Andreas Gauger recently shared his thinking on the company's US market entry and the state of the hosting industry. Gauger founded Schlund in 1995, which was bought by 1&1 in 1998.
Morris Miller joined Rackspace Managed Hosting
in 1998 as chief operating officer, and now serves as Managing Director as well as co-chairman along with Graham Weston. Miller's primary focus is on corporate strategy, business development and M&A activity. He recently shared his thinking on key issue affecting Rackspace and the hosting industry.
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.
Prices in the shared hosting market are likely to continue trending lower, according to Bob Parsons, the president of Go Daddy
, a pacesetter in driving prices lower in the domain name business.
"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.