Archive for September, 2007

Failure + Persistence = Success

Friday, September 28th, 2007

How many of us feel the trepidation that goes along with trying to implement a new business, or trying a new sport, or learning about something new, or …. The list could go on forever? Why don’t so many of us try and pursue those things that we want most? I argue that it is out of fear of failure – failure to do what we think we are capable of accomplishing but not 100% positive that we can do it.

Let me help you get something straight right now. You are SUPPOSED TO FAIL! If everyone succeeded at everything the first time they tried it the world would be a pretty boring place. Everyone would be the same. Hard work and ingenuity would mean nothing, and there would be no incentive to learn and grow and improve ourselves. Thank goodness for failure. It gives us the opportunity to succeed!

The one crucial ingredient that many people forget is persistence. Persistence is a hard thing to have, and for many its simply not worth it. I know that 3 years of piano lessons went down the drain because I didn’t have the persistence to stick with it. Every time we fail we learn something – EVERY TIME. If you take that knowledge and use it to try again then success is inevitable. It might not happen the second time, or the third time, but it will happen.

So the next time you hear the little voice in your head saying, “Forget it! I give up!”, just remember that one more try coupled with the knowledge you have obtained by previous failures just might be enough for you to be the big success you always wanted to be! :)

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com

Wisdom in decisions…

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Sometimes in life you decide there is something that you really want. You exert yourself to get closer to the thing you want. To achieve the goal , although goal isn’t necessary the right term. You want something to become part of your life. You really think this thing will bring you happiness, and perhaps for a short time it does bring you happiness. The problem that I have is that sometimes I pursue these things that I think will make me “happy”, but in the end they don’t really bring me true happiness and often times make my life more miserable.

I know this is a very vague blog entry, but for content reasons it pretty much has to be this way. I guess the underlying problem that I have is one of Wisdom. Wisdom usually goes hand in hand with patience. Two qualities that I struggle with. I sometimes pursue things that are clearly not for me and in the best interests of my business or my personal life, but I go ahead and do them anyway. I pursue these interests for various reasons, it might be for a position of power, it might be to impress a women, or may be for some foolish pride that I am trying to protect.

Lucky for me the things I have been in pursuit of lately have fallen apart on their own. Either I have lost interest completely in something I used to be actively interested in, or I have come to the conclusion on my own that nothing good could come from my efforts in those directions. Sometimes it takes fiends or others to show you that your pursuits aren’t worthy of your time.

I would encourage all of you to look inside and see what it is that you most desire. Is that desire something that is worth pursuing in the long term, or is it something you should have clearly put aside a long time ago. Sometimes people around you help you get straightened out by saying or writing things that make a bomb go off in your head and help you realize what an idiot you’ve been. That is certainly the case with me. I read something a few days ago from someone that (probably not intentionally) helped me realize that what I was pursuing was absolutely wrong for me and not worthy of my time. It was eye opening and allowed me to analyze and see things as they really are and not as I would have liked them to be. It was great. When you think something is great forever sometimes you are blind to the faults and problems that are clearly there. When you are finally able to see straight it is a good feeling.

I hope all of us can pursue goals and relationships that bring real value to our life for the long haul, and use wisdom in those decisions instead of selfishness and indulgence.

Thanks,
Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Bluehost has changed significantly since we started in December of 2003. I have learned a lot since that time. Many business decisions we made were spot on and we were rewarded for those good decisions. However, other decisions turned out badly for us and made us look bad to our customers. I decided I would list some of the good and bad decisions (In no particular order) since our inception and see what you, the customer, think about it.

GOOD – Decided to primarily have a single hosting option (One plan) – This was a very good decision on our part. We have always tried to give the very most we possibly could to the customer for the price. Getting rid of the multiple hosting choices greatly reduced customer confusion and helped fuel our growth.

BAD – Not offering 24/7 support soon enough. Bluehost was going for over a year before we started offering real 24/7 support and support on Sundays. We have a significant customer base outside the US, and not giving them a valid support route 24/7 cost us sales, and customer satisfaction. Of course we now offer 24/7 email, chat, and phone support.

GOOD – Made the decision to never outsource any part of our business. This one decision has had an enormous impact in our success. Hosting is a cutthroat business and every dime matters, but to make money long term the customer HAS to be happy. Outsourcing in a business like hosting shows shorts term financial gains, but is a recipe for disaster in my opinion. Outsourced support is NEVER as good as quality in house support engineers, and customers WILL vote with their dollars for a company that strives to offer qualified, trained support staff.

BAD – Relied heavily on Godaddy (Wildwestdomains) to take care of our domain sales to go along with our hosting business. This is a crucial part of our business and as time went by it was clear we had to manage and integrate this as tightly as possible to solve our customer issues. We are now our own Icann accredited registrar, and have long since washed our hands of the gross incompetence that plagued Godaddy.

GOOD – We build our own servers and put them in our own datacenter, along with our own bandwidth. None of these resources are shared with other companies and the benefits are real and substantial. Almost no hosting company of a decent size that I know of custom builds their own servers. I come from a very knowledgeable background in computer hardware and design each server in use at Bluehost. This allows us to mitigate much of the hardware problems that plague other hosts because they can use only what is offered in the datacenter that they rent space in. The cost saving is also quite substantial as I speak Mandarin Chinese and can negotiate pretty good deals for our parts that go into our servers.

BAD – Didn’t organize business fast enough to accommodate our explosive growth. Often times, we found ourselves behind the curve because we grew too quickly. A little more forethought on our part could have helped to alleviate these issues and helped us grow at a more accelerated rate than what we currently enjoy. Good project management and follow through with projects can really free up management to take the business where it needs to go.

GOOD – We wrote from scatch our entire signup, billing, affiliate, customer relationship, and server provisioning and monitoring software. I can say with confidence that there isn’t another Cpanel host on the planet that is as efficient as we are on a large scale because of the monumental effort we have put into having our own system that lets us address and automate issue resolutions that other hosts continually have to deal with manually. The importance of this component can’t be understated!

Well, there you have it. The good and the bad! The list could go on forever, but this is only a blog entry after all. I would be interested in your comments about this particular entry because what I have listed above affects our customer base directly.

Thanks,
Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

Why Apple Is Better (Again…)

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

I am a HUGE Mac fan. Let me just get that out of the way right now. It didn’t used to be that way. About 18 months ago I bought a Mac Book Pro (Apple laptop) for testing purposes on Bluehost. I didn’t want to rely on other people telling me how it worked on a Mac. I wanted to test Bluehost on a Mac myself so I could make sure it was acceptable to me. I commited to myself that I was going to use the Mac exclusively for a while (At least a month). The first couple of weeks that I used the laptop were an exercise in futility. I hated it! The reason I hated it was because although I could use it right away I couldn’t do the “advanced” things that I had come accustomed to doing in Windows. When my “test” was over I went back to a mixed environment with Linux on one machine, my Mac laptop, and my Windows desktop.

After that month I was ruined forever on Windows. Now, I am completely and utterly disgusted at how Windows operates and “functions”. Worse than anything is the pile of crap that was let loose on the public under the name of “Vista”. Vista is slow, buggy as can be, and annoys me to death. On the otherhand, OSX (The Mac OS), is fast, EXTREMELY stable, and seems to be one step ahead on the things I am trying to accomplish.

When I think something is awful it takes a lot to change my mind. In the past I chose (In my ignorance) to never buy a Mac for marketing reasons. If Windows had a 90% market share and everyone used Windows then I had to work in that environment regardless of what else was out there? Man was I WRONG! I am responsible for AT LEAST 30 Macs being sold to family and friends since I first purchased my Mac. Mostly because I would be the one called to fix their Windows spyware problem again when it broke and I didn’t want to have to deal with it. Now these people are all happy Mac users and preaching the new “Mac Gospel” to all their friends that are looking to buy a new computer.

It comes down to this. I have yet to find a single person that has used a Mac for any significant length of time that has switched back to windows. Not one! And now you can run your windows apps inside the mac (If you have too :( ) so you don’t have the excuse anymore of saying you need that one last program to work on a Mac before you switch. Switch now! You really don’t know what you are missing. Forget the late nights messing with your wireless driver, or video card driver. Forget cryptic errors on the screen and buggy software that doesn’t install and uninstall properly, and most of all forget giving your money to Microsoft for a half-ass product that for all intents and purposes is embarrassingly inept compared with OSX at this time.

Reward businesses that respect you by providing a quality product, and run from business who forgot who made them successful in the first place – The consumer!!!! Apple still knows that the customer experience is everything. Microsoft forgot that around 1997 in my opinion, and I KNOW it won’t change in the future. You might as will stick a fork in em.

Bluehost will always remember that the customer deserves respect, and from that respect comes a quality product and quality support. Why is something so simply to understand so impossible for most companies to implement? Ignorance? Indifference? It doesn’t matter? If you don’t have someone at the top that understand these principles and BELIEVES THEY ARE TRUE then you might as well buy a first class seat on a flight to mediocrity…

Better products -> Better support -> Happier Customers -> Loyal Customer Base -> Lots of $$$$ for the smart company. Simply formula that no one follows?? Good there won’t be a long line at the bank :)

Thanks,
Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

AJAX, Javascript, DHTML, Web 2.0

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

The internet has come a long way in the last ten years. Its amazing to think that I used to dial into VAX machines at 110 baud (521x slower than a 56K modem!!) when I was 14 years old on my Atari 800XL (That was 21 years ago!). Fast forward to 2007 and the internet has changed all our lives. The power of web applications that we rely on every day is simply amazing. This in large part is due to the prevalence of AJAX applications and the ability for client side scripts to act like an application.

What do I mean by that? AJAX and other similiar technologies allow a website to send the server information and retrieve information from the server without reloading your website. Why is that so important you ask? Its everything. It allows developers to code websites that act just like desktop applications. Don’t you hate clicking through the endless process of signing up for your favorite site, or always having to hit submit to go to next page? 95% of sites that could benefit greatly from AJAX type applications aren’t implementing them or are barely scratching the surface. Thats whats so exciting. Cpanel (Our backend control panel) is still in the stone age as far as AJAX applications go. The file manager is a step in the right direction, but it is still very weak.

We have a new domain manager that is AJAX based that will be released in the coming months that is FANTASTIC! You can manage all your domains, edit name servers, change contacts, transfer domains and more all from a single page. This is how all websites that require maintenance should be written in the future. Gmail is another example of a good AJAX application. Gmail wouldn’t be possible with standard HTML yet Gmail still has a LONG way to go before it realizes its full potential. It is still clunky in many places and can be cumbersome and slow to use when the server isn’t responding fast enough. This brings up one major complaint I have with AJAX applications and that is speed.

AJAX is usually coupled with Javascript/DHTML code to make a website act like an application, but because the application usually relies on the server in real time the AJAX app can seem sluggish compared to a desktop application. This is 100% unacceptable if you expect an AJAX app to compete with desktop applications. Slick coding and an complete intolerance for this sluggishness can eliminate these speed issues but it is much harder to code and takes time to resolve. Most AJAX apps I have seen have this slow response time.
A good example of these slower response times can be illustrated with many of the email web clients that are out there. Roundcube, Zimbra, OpenXchange, and others fit this category. They are all excellent web clients, but they are still slow compared to Outlook, Mail (On my Mac), or other desktop apps. These companies will swear up and down that they are as fast as a desktop application, but it just isn’t so.

AJAX with Javascript is the way to go on the web, but until the speed issues are completely resolved (Which is both possible and probable) desktop applications don’t have anything to
worry about. Show me where I’m wrong?

Thanks,
Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

Green Hosting…

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

Ok, lets get it out of the way. I am going to make some people mad with this post. There is no way around it and I won’t try and wiggle my way out of it. I have been looking at the scenario for “Green” hosting. Green hosting has two definitions. One I agree with, and one I think is hokey marketing BS.

The first method is when a hosting company goes out of its way to generate “green” power for its personal use. This can be done with a variety of techniques. It can be done with solar cells to help offset power costs. Some hosting companies are using wind power coupled with solar cells to generate power for their data centers. I commend these businesses for their efforts to clean up the environment and still provide a business service which is more power hungry every day.

The second method is to buy “green” power certificates. The gist of this argument is that you can use dirty polluting power all you want in your data center, but somewhere else in the world
someone is generating “green” energy on your behalf in the hopes that their good energy production will offset your dirty power consumption. While I don’t think this method causes any harm, I would hardly call it “Green hosting”. This strikes me as paying your pastor in cash to absolve you of your sins? You don’t pay for your sins with cash, you pay for your mistakes by not making the same mistake again!?!

Bluehost is not in a position to do “Green Hosting” at this time. I totally see the positive impact it can have and would encourage every company that can produce and use clean energy to do so, but we will NOT buy these lame “Green Certificates” and post blather on our site that we are now “Green Friendly”. I believe we could get more signups if we did say we are green, but we aren’t and to say that we are is disingenuous.

Many hosting companies that buy these certificates will probably be offended when they read my comments, but as anyone who has read my blog before knows, I simply don’t care. I state what I believe and I don’t change my mind when the wind blows.

Green is great and we will get there as soon as we can!

Thanks,
Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com