Archive for May, 2006

Podcast on hosting issues…

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

I am thinking of doing a weekly podcast on hosting issues. Please tell me if its a waste of time, and you would have no interest as it would probably be a moderate amount of work. I was thinking of inviting many of the bigwigs in the industry to throw around their genius on the podcast (That is if any of them will talk to me :) ). Anyway, I am interested in doing it and if you think it would be a benefit to the community at large I would be happy to do it.

Please let me know any thoughts or suggestions you have on the idea.

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com

Why linux dominates the world of hosting!

Friday, May 26th, 2006

To the GREAT mismay of Microsoft and the windows camp, linux, and other ??nixes dominate the internet infrastructure, and specifically the hosting world.

While I have many windows machines, I mainly work on my Macs. They are virtually superior in every aspect in my opinion over any Windows products out there (Except for gaming :( ) I don’t use them for our hosting servers however because I recognize what they are currently the best for IMHO and that is a fantastic desktop experience (If you can handle a 2 week learning curve coming over from windows – Thats how long it took me to never want to run windows again on my desktop).

When it comes to web hosting, Linux is simply the better solution. Could we run windows as our backend and be a successful hosting company? Absolutely! Let me give a brief analogy. I drive a Ford F150 truck (I live in Utah and to the east of me is one house and then mountains, mountains, and more mountains and LOTS of slow). I also drive an SRT10 Dodge Viper (Bought before I ever started Bluehost, so no complaining about high hosting prices). The viper is fun! It cost a lot, and I can get from point A to point B. The truck can also get me from point A to point B, but I can haul a boat, my wife, and our 4 kids at the same time. It even gets better gas mileage. While I see the benefits of both vehicles, when it comes time to work the truck is what I drive. The same is true for linux.

Linux is the collaborative work of tens of thousands of individuals. The vast majority of it is written out of the goodness of peoples hearts. It shows in the superb quality and stability of our servers. We serve 10s of millions of page views every day. We have our hiccups, but comparitively our uptime is great, and the feature set is great.

We build a new server for Bluehost customers about every 38 hours. That would end up being a LOT of money if we were paying for an operating system like windows on every box. The ONLY piece of software that we pay any money for in the running of Bluehost is the Cpanel licenses for out control panel. Everything else on our servers is 100% free and open source software. I take that back, we pay $200 a year for our support ticketing system (Cerberus) :)

Most of our customers are windows users, but what is great about Bluehost is that even though we are using Linux, the presentation of our product is welcoming and beneficial to our user base. Most of our users think everything on Bluehost is on windows because it works so well with their windows software on their machine. That is how it should be. I also run linux as a desktop system on one of my home laptops. While I think the Mac is far superior, linux is quickly catching up. Its also nice to note that you won’t get ANY malware or viruses on our linux servers either (Or my Mac :) ). We’ll save all those gems for windows.

In spite of my opinion above, we are still very interested in offering windows based hosting. This would cater to customers that would like to choose. Choice is always good. We wanted to launch it sooner than later, but we want it to be great, not just good. We still have plans to do windows hosting, it just won’t launch in the next couple of months like we originally planned. For those that REALLY want it you’ll have to wait a little longer to get it from Bluehost. The wait will be worth it! I PROMISE!

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

Hidden hosting fees :(

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

Customers HATE hidden fees. Its a fact of life. Nickel and diming customers is a sure way to tell your customers that while you appreciate them using your service, all you really want is their money.

I have been doing a lot of research into our competitors lately so that our sales and support teams can better explain the differences between our services and others in the industry. To my surprise, I found that most of our competitors have multiple hidden fees. Often they do this to advertise a low price initially, but raise the monthly fees significantly when you finally add in all the “features” that you need. I want them to continue to do this! Why? Because all it does is sew dissatisfaction and malcontect with their customers. Basically is makes us look all the better when they do sign up and give us a try.

We try and give everything we can for one low price. That is why we have only a single hosting plan. Let me give you some examples of hidden fees that I have seen. I don’t want to publicly call out the companies that use the hidden fees technique, but just beware when you are looking for a hosting plan. Call and talk to the sales departments and ask about some of the things I mention below.

1 – Addon Domains (The ability to host multiple accounts on a single hosting plan) – Many companies advertise this with their plans, but when you go to use it they charge you an extra $10 for each domain to “activate” the option. Totally lame in my option. This is 100% free on bluehost!

2 – Cancellation fees if you terminate your account early. Most hosting companies charge 1 or 2 years at a time. With many of these companies if you terminate your hosting agreement before the 1 or 2 years is up you get charged at fee. Often as much as $30 just to cancel your acccount. Bluehost has NO cancellation fee. We want you to stay, but if you leave you are never charged anything to leave early.

3 – Domain ownership fees is another problem. Many hosting companies offer a free domain if you host with them, but if you decide to leave you find out to your great dismay that the hosting company owns YOUR domain. If you want to leave and host it elsewhere you have to pay a fee to take it with you. In some extreme cases they won’t let you take the domain with you. Bluehost registers ALL free domains in the name of the person who signs up for hosting. The domain is YOURS and you can do with it as you like even if you leave and host elsewhere.

There are many other examples of these “hidden fees”. Basically I ask myself if it would offend me if a company charged the fee to me personally. If it does bother me then I don’t do it on bluehost. That is just commen sense to me :) Remember when you were 4 and your learned the “golden rule”. Well even though I am 34 it is still true. I try to make the experience on Bluehost.com as I would like my own experience to be. In the end I hope it works well for you to…

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

Web Hosting vs. Fly Fishing Shop

Sunday, May 7th, 2006

Web hosting has been my life for about the last 8 years. Before that I did a variety of things, all technology related. My life has always been go go go… I would start one project after another. My most recent project that myself and others have put together has been to “almost” launch our own registrar to sell domains. Its all fun, and I enjoy myself BUT sometimes I crave the simple life.

Some days I just want to open a fly fishing shop and be done with it all. Do you ever get that feeling? When is enough actually enough? Most people in my opinion never get to do what they really want. Either their pursuit of money, career, or something else gets in the way. Ideally you do what you love AND get paid for it. However, that is not always the case. I love web hosting, I love the internet, and I love technology, but you know what? I ALSO love fly fishing.

I haven’t been fly fishing in 2 years. That is blasphemy in my house :) Bluehost is certainly more than just myself. There are 55 other people at the company that work harder, know more, and are generally great people. The ultimate goal for me is to eventually move away from technology for a while and take a break doing something that I know will make me absolutely no money whatsoever :) A flyfishing shop! Bluehost runs great whether I am there or not, so why not do something I love and get a well deserved break.Don’t get my wrong. I am not leaving Bluehost anytime soon, nor am I looking for retail space for a fly fishing shop. I am merely saying that my plans to make Bluehost function without my intervention are nearing fruition. Maybe when it comes time to scratch that itch to do the next thing it WILL be the fly fishing shop.

Anyone know where I can order BULK Elk-Hair Cadice dry flies?

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com

Can competitors be friends?

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

Can competitors be friends? Of course they can… At least that is what I always believed. The hosting industry is ultra competitve, and at the same time a fairly tight knit group. Those that have been in the industry for a long time either know personally or at least know the names of others that are in the industry. When I am talking with someone in the “know” about web hosting and drop a name or two of someone I know in the biz, chances are the person I named, and the person I am talking to know each other already. Such is the web hosting business.

Since it is such a tight-knit group I have made an effort to reach out to many of my competitors to at least introduce myself and to complement them on some aspect of their business that I admire and would like to emulate at bluehost. While often I am well received and have a few minutes of polite conversation the “talks” quickly turn to what are some of our strategies for business, and what some of their strategies are. This is great. Sometimes I have advice that I believe the other companies really needs to hear, and othertimes they let me have it, and tell us where we can improve as they see us from a different perspective than we see ourselves.

The most common reaction however that I get is basically, “Why do you want to be our friends? We are competitors.” I didn’t know the two were mutally exclusive. The hosting market is a HUGE market. There is room for me to help out others and not hurt my own business. Don’t get me wrong. I want signups, and I want them BAD. We are VERY VERY aggressive marketers for bluehost, and we try and earn your business every step of the way. It just means we don’t have to step on our competitors in a negative way to do it. In fact, I think we can learn a lot from each other along the way if our pride doesn’t get in the way. That benefits us and our customers. Everyone wins!

I guess I am saying BEAT YOUR COMPETITORS, but buy em dinner afterward :) OK – Now lets all hold hands and sing kum-ba-ya ;)

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com