Web hosting is a saturated and crowded industry, and making a good name for one’s brand is not an easy task. That said, there is one web hosting company that has performed well over the years: InMotion Hosting.
Following is the transcript of the interview, with my questions in bold.
Interview: Sunil Saxena, Co-Founder of InMotion Hosting
InMotion Hosting has been successful in a very crowded industry for many years now. What, according to you, is the biggest reason behind your success?
I think different hosting companies have different strategies. Some might want market share, some might want to develop a specific type of client. From its inception, InMotion has had its focus on customer satisfaction and customer retention. Notwithstanding technical innovation, we feel that as long as we focus on our customers, all else will fall into place.
You also seem to have a secondary brand, Web Hosting Hub, as well as a tertiary site, First Site Guide. How have you managed to integrate your secondary entities with the parent firm, InMotion Hosting?
(First) Site Guide is actually not associated with the InMotion brand. One of our early partners had developed it and is run as a stand-alone with which we don’t have any stake in.
As for Web Hosting Hub – during our early growth stages, we had identified various underserved markets. We wanted to serve and help develop these markets so we established Web Hosting Hub as an independent entity directed to help this burgeoning demographic of new developers and designers.
How do you view the concept of managed WordPress hosting? Do you think it is a better option that traditional cPanel hosts, for users who only work with WP?
The concept of Managed WP Hosting definitely has its merits. Often times, potential clients become inundated with the prospect of having to administer their web presence by themselves. Having your site managed by our team empowers many clients who would not have the confidence to venture out into the web space without some guidance. That being said, I think it’s a better option if you need the assistance.
InMotion Hosting also offers web design services. Do you outsource that or do you offer your in-house design team?
InMotion Hosting is 100% employee owned and operated. Every single product or service component external stakeholders come into contact has been conceived, developed and brought to market by our in house team. Always In-House. Never Outsourced.
In the light of recent activity, how do you view the EIG buyouts of popular web hosts such as Site5 and Arvixe?
Often times, with increased competition, industries move towards consolidation. This is particularly unfortunate for the hosting industry, because many of our competitors did start out as open source advocates and were somewhat anti-establishment. Until they were bought out. I understand it’s a natural occurrence in the open market. Unfortunately, many customers have been the victims of this consolidation. Companies like EIG are coming in, taking over operations, and slashing costs. One of the biggest cost-saving strategies is to cut down on human capital. And the largest human capital expenditure for hosting companies is the support department. In recent months we have seen an influx of customer moving over from Arvixe and Site5, to name a couple. Internally, we’ve even started to refer to them as EIG Refugees.
Where do you see the web hosting industry in the coming years? Which technologies will be dominant?
It’s our core belief that customer pattern identification and forecasting consumer demand trends is paramount in our sector. Our industry is inherently driven by technological innovation. Beyond the technological developments, we need to be aware of the ever changing consumer profile. In the past 10 years, we have already observed a major shift in what customers expect, how they want to purchase, and the increasing demand for better service on multiple platforms. Recently, we’ve seen a significant shift towards bundle demand. Our consumers not only want hosting, but they want a plug and play package that will allow them to seamlessly develop their footprint on the World Wide Web. Everybody wants to own their piece of the digital world. And we want to make that possible with the development of a hosting/builder bundle. Beyond the product shift, we feel we will continue to see industry consolidation and buyouts as competition becomes more fierce in the space
Great question. Yes – we have a dedicated team that is currently tasked with formulating an implementation strategy.
InMotion Hosting has been an active name when it comes to commitment to open source software. How important, in your view, is OSS in the web hosting world?
Both Todd and I are from the open source world. We started in the Mambo world (if any of you remember that!). We’ve been contributing to OSS since 90s. Internally, our company culture reflects this as we use a lot of OSS products in our day-to-day operations.
How do you view Plesk and Interworx as viable alternatives to cPanel? Do you think the cPanel monopoly will be challenged anytime soon?
We go with what the customer data tells us. cPanel seems to be the dominant solution, but if that changes, then we will be more than happy to adopt a new control panel solution.
You offer datacenters in multiple locations. How different is the non-US clientele from their American counterparts?
We see as much variance in technical skill and understanding in our US-only clientele as we do when we compare American clientele to its international counterparts. An added hurdle, though, at times, is the language barrier. However, we do unofficially speak about 9 languages at IMH, so we are often able to help our international clientele in their native language.
Do you think overselling is a necessary evil in modern web hosting, with more and more, smaller hosts trying to get a share of the market?
No, we believe it’s the opposite. Overselling creates a logistical nightmare. Further, it severely damages long term reputation. We do not employ this strategy because it will simply be detrimental to our ability to provide our desired level of service commitment. For example, we heard some hosting companies might oversell servers 110-120%. We keep server loads at a 70-80% max
Owing to a recent security breach at Linode, WP Engine’s customer credentials were under threat. How did InMotion respond to this news?
From what I have heard from everyone involved with WP Engine, it was very scary and compromised the entire fleet of servers. InMotion runs various updates on a regular basis, so we aren’t susceptible to the same security issues. Linode was having a few issues including a DDoS that lasted about a week. We helped anyone who was interested in moving to us as much as we could.
You’ve recently added the BoldGrid website builder to your services. How has the response been?
Response has been overwhelmingly positive. We have asked many of our early adopters for feedback, and we consistently hear that site build-out has been intuitive, forgiving and simple. Others, with more technical knowledge, enjoyed the fact that it allows them to fly through some of the more mundane tasks, while retaining the ability to manipulate code to deliver exactly what they need.
Do you think web hosting industry faces competition from hosted CMSs like SquareSpace? Or you’d view their audience as totally different from yours?
Absolutely. There is strong and growing competition in this product class. And more and more, we are seeing traditional hosting companies pivot into this hosted CMS vertical to capture the market that typically would have simply purchased a regular hosting package. This is why we developed BoldGrid; so that we can help provide a solid product to those who need it most.
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