Archive for May, 2008

Exceptions to the rule…

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

I am someone who always says that something can be done regardless of the circumstances, and usually I’m right. There is always a way to fix a problem if you are determined and creative enough.

However, as I become older and more experienced (Not mature – no one will ever accuse me of maturity) I can appreciate the problems associated with the exception to the rule. At Bluehost and Hostmonster we have tirelessly added new features since day 1. I feel very confident in saying that we offer more features than any other shared hosting service that I know of.

Even with our vast array of features there are still many functions that users requests that are technically possible for us to implement – even easy to implement, but that we are unable to accommodate because we operate a larger scale operation. Early on we made many exceptions to allow for these requests and in the end it caused issues as we upgraded our systems. We were unhappy because of the extra time and expense to ensure these features worked going forward and some customers were unhappy because some of the custom features would break repeatedly as Cpanel and other third party applications were “unaware” that these changes existed.

This is why small hosting companies, in fact all small companies, will ALWAYS have a place with consumers. They offer a level of specificity to user needs that no larger company will ever be able to match. This is how Bluehost started in the first place. We offered many options when we started that other hosts didn’t have available or didn’t want to offer because of security concerns.

I believe our standard package can and does fit the bill for 98% of users out there, but for those that have needs outside of our offering there are a myriad of choices to get exactly what you want. I encourage you to look for something that does what you want out of the box rather than looking for an “exception” to make it happen. You will be happier in the long run!

Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

Respect your customers!

Monday, May 19th, 2008

We have hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers right now and add tens of thousands of new customers each month. With that many happy customers it also means we have our fair share of dissatisfied customers. As obvious as that statement is many companies wouldn’t admit to it. We try very hard to meet everyone’s needs, but we can’t be 100% on customer satisfaction.

What we can do is avoid adding insult to injury. If someone is unhappy with our service or no longer requires hosting services they can cancel anytime with no cancel fee and no hassles. You see, we respect our users even if they no longer need or want our services. This is important for two reasons. First, I despise companies that force me to do business with them on long term contracts and so I will never require that from my own customers, and second customers love it – even if someone leaves because they don’t need their website anymore they remember that we didn’t try and force them to stay or charge them to leave. Our customers know this and refer extra business our way because of it.

We deal with many companies that have a VERY different view than ours on this issue and it just causes problems for us and pain for their customers. King of the list for us is GoDaddy. GoDaddy is the largest registrar of domain names in the world. Because of this we HAVE to deal with them everyday to move domains to our system to provide hosting for many of their customers. Transferring of domains has many rules that are required by Icann, but instead of making it easier for their customers to choose where they want to go the system GoDaddy employs is to hassle, obscure, deny, and provide such poor support that their customers finally give up and stay because its so impossible to move. This is good for them in the short term because the customer stays out of sheer exhaustion from trying to leave. However its bad in the long term (And good for us) that they do it this way because once a customer successfully leaves GoDaddy they never want to go back. GoDaddy leaves such a sour taste with so many customers that no matter what they won’t go back.

If you respect your customers they will stay and refer new business. If you don’t they will leave and never come back. Pretty simple to me.

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com / Hostmonster.com

Home court advantage!

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

My Utah Jazz lost tonight :( It pains me greatly to write this blog entry. Its like getting my finger nails ripped off one by one, or maybe hosting with Godaddy – whichever is worse.

In the second round of the NBA playoffs 16 of the last 18 games were won by the home team. Teams fight all year long to get home court advantage. It is an undeniable fact that home court makes a huge difference. The Utah Jazz went 37-4 at home (The best in the NBA), and 17-24 away.

What I don’t understand is why? I really don’t. My personality completely rejects the notion that I need to have someone cheering for me to do better. I go to most of the Jazz games and I certainly can tell that when the crowd gets into a game that the Jazz play WAY better. When I play a sport or am in some kind of competitive situation I CRAVE opposition. I do well when someone is cheering or wants me to play well, but I do better when someone says I can’t do something.

In business or in sports the FIRST thing I want is to be underrated, to have someone believe that I can’t achieve some goal, and to root against me. I LOVE IT! I feed off of the negative energy. There is nothing better than to crush someone’s expectations that you will do poorly. When I am left alone I tend to be mediocre at sports or business interests, but tell me you’ll be beat at something and I will try 10x harder. Make me mad enough and I WILL win!

My desire to win comes from within. It isn’t given me by a “crowd”. All great players are motivated, but the outstanding players are those that thrive in a hostile environment. They learn to use both positive and negative energy to win no matter the circumstances standing in their way. They will find a way to win!

Do you need the home court advantage? I don’t and never will…

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com

Security (Lack there of)…

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

The need for top notch security in the hosting industry can not be overstated. Consumers and businesses are becoming more and more savvy to the need for security in all aspects of computing. However, understanding that you need security and implementing it are two very different things. Let me give you an example.

To fly to Mexico from Salt Lake City (Where my FAMOUS Utah Jazz are from!! GO JAZZ) requires a passport. My brother was supposed to fly to Puerto Vallarta today. He THOUGHT he didn’t need a passport to fly there, but of course he does. Don’t worry, I let him have it for being completely unprepared. He called me up and was depressed that he couldn’t be there with his friends. Being the person that I am I NEVER take “No” for an answer. I immediately started thinking how to get around this “security problem”. Driving into Mexico requires far less documentation than flying into Mexico (I’ll never understand why – actually I do, but lets not get into a political discussion when talking about security!!). I then called several Mexican airlines to ask if a US Citizen needed a passport to fly within Mexico. The answer was no. Fantastic, what if my brother flew from Salt Lake City to San Diego, took a 30-40 minute cab ride to Tijuana, and then jumped on a plane to Puerto Vallarta. It couldn’t be that simple. Surely I couldn’t get out of the need for a passport to fly internationally in an hour?

Sadly the answer was yes. Its great news for my brother who is getting on a plane in a couple of hours but pathetic that our countries “security” is so ridiculous. When security hassles legitimate customers but does nothing to stop determined individuals it isn’t security at all. So many products and services prey on individuals desires to be safe but really provide nothing but a VERY false sense of security. Unfortunately ignorant decision makers set security policy in every aspect of our lives. From banks, and financial institutions, to our borders, to our own computers security – its broken from the top down.

What can I do to provide better security for our customers? A lot! We work all the time to educate ourselves and update our servers with all the latest “real” security options available to us. I think we do a pretty good job, but we can always be better. I have seen huge hosting companies that are open to attack in multiple areas where one abusive person could literally destroy the company. I won’t name any companies, but I have first hand knowledge of many companies that take a less than stalwart stance when it comes to security in the hosting industry.

We do our best to segregate customers from each other so that when a customer of ours makes a foolish decision, or doesn’t keep their own code and security up to date that their own site will be compromised without affecting our other users. Security for our servers as a whole is our responsibility. Security for individual sites and those who choose to run scripts such as blogs, forums, etc is the responsibility of our customers. Please take that responsibility seriously!

Thanks,
Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com