Tell us a little about your background. What industry experience you have? And what did you do before your company?
I started HostGator as a college freshman who was looking for some extra money. I had no industry experience and not much formal business experience. Before HostGator, I ran a few websites and had extra web hosting, so I decided to make use of that hosting and start selling it.
What is the History of your company and what has led to your success in the hosting industry?
I kind of touched on our early history in the last question, but our basic history is we started doing shared hosting and had a really strong commitment on providing the best service and support we could. After we did shared hosting for a while, we started providing reseller hosting, which was a bit intimating at the time, but has since proven to be one of the best decisions we made.
There were hiccups and problems when we were a young company without any real technical expertise or industry experience, but as those got resolved, our growth really started to take off and HostGator started doing really well.
Tell our readers about your company, your products and services.
We provide shared, reseller, and dedicated web hosting. Our cheapest shared plan is $4.95 a month. Our cheapest reseller plan is $24.95 a month and our cheapest dedicated server is $174.00 per month. We also sell domain names, SSL certificates, and things of that nature.
Do you have any other changes or additions to your service in this coming year?
Currently, almost all of our customers are on Linux servers with cPanel, but weâ€™re expanding to offer Windows hosting soon. We are also planning to launch a VPS hosting solution in the coming year. Weâ€™ve gotten a lot of requests for these services from customers and weâ€™re excited to be able to offer them soon.
How does your company fit into the web hosting industry? What makes you different?
I still think weâ€™re primarily differentiated by the level of support and service we offer. There arenâ€™t many companies that provide 24/7/365 support over the telephone, live chat, and email and do so in a way thatâ€™s overall pretty helpful and positive. Our service has gotten better over time and weâ€™re able to provide some of the best technical support you can find at any company at any time of the day or night, which is something our customers seem to value a lot.
In addition to our actual customer service, the products and services we offer are also very competitive. As an example, our Business shared hosting plan includes a free dedicated IP, a free SSL certificate, and a free toll-free phone number. That type of offer is not common in the hosting industry and itâ€™s another reason I think that customers choose HostGator over the competition.
As far as how we fit into the industry, HostGator is still the largest provider of reseller hosting in the industry. We are also among the top few largest shared hosting companies in the world as well.
How may customers your company currently have and what have you found has been the best way to grow your customer base?
We have just over 200,000 customers.
Our biggest source of growth is consistently word of mouth. We work really hard to provide a service experience that leads to our customers telling their friends, family members, and co-workers about us, and thus helping us grow. We want to be the first company people think of when they need web hosting or when they hear about others needing web hosting.
Do you currently have your own datacenter and where are they located?
We lease all of our servers from The Planet and our servers are located in The Planetâ€™s datacenters, which are primarily in the Dallas, Texas area.
Do you have multiple backbone connections to the internet?
Yes. The Planet uses multiple backbone providers to ensure uninterrupted access to the Internet in the event that one of the providers is to go down for one reason or another.
As far as support goes, do you offer true 27/7/365 support with live technicians?
We have three â€œofficialâ€ support mediums that are staffed 24/7/365 with employees who work in our Houston, Texas headquarters. Those three mediums are live chat, the telephone, and email. You can call us, start a live chat, or email us at any time and work with someone who is sitting in Houston to get your problem resolved.
In addition to our â€œofficialâ€ support mediums, we have a very active forum that employees and other customers post on. We also have a very active presence on Twitter and answer a lot of questions that way as well.
Can you tell us more about these support mechanisms and to what lengths will you go to satisfy customerâ€™s needs?
Weâ€™ll do whatever we can to help a customer out. There are countless instances in which our support people have spent a considerable amount of time and effort on fixing something that we arenâ€™t officially responsible for fixing.
A customer who canâ€™t do what he or she would like to do with their website is not going to remain a customer for very long, so itâ€™s in our best interest in the long run to help those customers out as they have problems.
The hosting industry has changed a lot in the last year, what predictions do you foresee for this coming year?
Web hosting is a technology, so by nature, it tends to move pretty fast. HostGator isnâ€™t really trend focused obsessed (our business model hasnâ€™t changed much since we started), but that doesnâ€™t mean we arenâ€™t paying attention or innovating.
Weâ€™ve made changes to our plans that came as a result of us noticing that a lot of customers expressed interest in having additional features for their e-commerce web sites and weâ€™re working on launching new products and services (Windows shared hosting, VPS hosting) to keep us competitive as well.
Grid/cloud hosting is a popular topic in hosting right now. We havenâ€™t explored it in much detail, but it is also something we are watching. I still think it is years away from competing with the traditional shared hosting services that we do provide, but it is definitely a technology worth watching. VPS is something that we are definitely interested in and weâ€™re looking to launch our VPS solution soon.
Weâ€™re always watching the industry closely and weâ€™re always thinking of the ways developments in the industry can help our customers and our company.
Lastly, what is your favorite website and the most recent book you have read?
I donâ€™t think I have a favorite website in particular. I check out digg.com regularly because I think the content is fun and pretty interesting.
For reading related to business, I read whatâ€™s going on at WebHostingTalk, check out WebHosting.info, and follow MarketWatch.com. All three are good resources.
As far as books go, I recently read The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason on a plane ride back from Florida. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who has trouble keeping their personal finances in order or is interested in investing and managing money.