(The Hosting News) – 1&1 Internet has been on a roll. Just shortly after unveiling new social media tools for small businesses in July, the company recently made some even larger news upon marking its 10th anniversary of entering the U.S. market.
Over the past couple years, 1&1 has focused on the small business industry segment, offering web design tools that allow companies to fully create and customize their web presences.
Now the company has added a revamped shared hosting range, an offering that includes things such a web application center, design tools and optimized performance.
The Hosting News recently had a chance to catch up with 1&1 Internet CEO Robert Hoffman during an event tour of the company’s Lenexa, Kansas data center to ask him about his vision for hosting and a variety of other issues.
On if 1&1 is planning on building out its own advertising network to help SMBs monetize their websites:
Hoffman says he was asked before why the company didn’t offer more display or affiliate ad applications. At the moment, he notes 1&1 is focused on building professional websites, offering customers the ability to buy and clip budgets on Google. Hoffman: “The average SMB is not able to fill out all the fields you have to fill out at Google Adworks – so that’s why it’s offered as a service product.” 1&1 is satisfied with Google’s services. “The purpose is not to be in competition with Google but to help 1&1 customers use their products.”
On working with external partners:
Hoffman says collaboration with external professionals has been one of the major cornerstones of web hosting. For example, the open source community. The same concept is also true for developers. “The next step is to have a specific developer portal for developers concerning the app store,” Hoffman notes.
On affiliate marketing and commissioning products:
1&1 would never do a $6.95 product for $200, Hoffman emphasizes. The product has to sell, not the commission. “It needs to be a fair share. Commissions are always related to the acquisition costs. The product should be well calculated for the end consumer. The purpose is not to buy the affiliate sector.”
On United Internet acquiring other web hosts:
Hoffman says United Internet’s goal is to acquire relevant buyers like FastHosts. United Internet also looks at ISPs to acquire, integrate and leverage their services. “It makes sense to let these companies have their own development,” Hoffman comments. OpenXchange is an example of a company United Internet bought a minority stake in. Hoffman says United Internet wants Open-Xchange to become successful and appreciates that they also serve other hosting companies aside from 1&1, helping them compete with the likes of Google and Microsoft.
On his passion for 1&1 Internet’s offerings:
Hoffman has used the word “addicted”. Hopefully this means he loves what he does at the company, he says. He loves the hosting industry because it’s a serious target group that wants to do business, not play around. He also really appreciates the space of creativity and partnership. He’s addicted to the passion. In fact, it’s all about passion. “Even if we don’t deliver all the products we have in mind for the next year for now, we’re really passionate to support taking the industry to the next step,” he says. He also sees a big industry change happening. “We don’t see us driving the industry on our own, we need our customers, developers. We are passionate to do that in a collaborative way with them. We aren’t focused on one segment. Our goal is to bring people together.”
He’s really a product man, if you look at his experience. He’s passionate regarding sales but he’s not much of a sales professional; he’s more so likes to describe himself as a “product professional.”
On becoming the CEO and Transitioning Away from the Telco Business:
Hoffman notes he is one of three executive members of the United Internet Group. He’s responsible for the application business in the group and he’s also CEO of the hosting division from an operational perspective. Hoffman previously had 15 years experience of doing telco. Taking on the challenge of coming to 1&1, he appreciated the new opportunity because it was international, all about business and much more creative. He also saw aspects such as software, code and partnerships as something that was delightfully challenging.