HOSTSEARCH: Could you please reveal a little about yourself and your day-to-day role with 1and1.com.
ANDREAS: At the age of 16, I launched my own company selling software. In 1993, I founded the software company Gauger, Hamm und Partner and became managing director. My next move in 1995 was to found Schlund + Partner with Rainer Schlund. In 1998, 1&1 acquired a 66 percent stake in Schlund +Partner. In 2000, 1&1 Internet developed from a merger between 1&1 Telekommunikation and Schlund + Partner, then I was appointed CEO of the merged company. Nowadays, I am responsible for the operation and strategic direction of the company. It's our goal to be first to market with innovative products at the best prices without compromising quality or reliability. We started as a pioneer and we've never stopped working this way. As I founded the product development wing of the business, I remain very engaged with our R&D program and I like to be involved in new projects and product launches.
HOSTSEARCH: Can you give us a brief historical run through of 1&1's development since establishment, and explain the role the company plays in the industry.
ANDREAS: In 1998, Ralph Dommermuth founded 1&1 Internet in Montabaur, Germany. Significant milestones include our strategic marketing partnership with Germany's Telekom T-Online in 1992. At this time, 1&1 launched one of the most successful Internet campaigns of all time, resulting in T-Online becoming the biggest online service in Europe and millions of Internet users going online with 1&1. We have continued to go on to develop strong partnerships with leading Internet specialists, and in 2000, 1&1 Internet and Schlund + Partner joined forces. That same year, 1&1 expanded into other European markets - 1&1 Internet Ltd. was launched in the UK and 1&1 Internet S.A.R.L was set up in France. In 2001, 1&1 Internet became Microsoft's Joint Development Partner in Europe.
Over the past four years, 1&1 has matured and remained profitable, and is today the world's largest web hosting provider by known servers and a leading domain name registration company. The company launched its entire line of products and services in the US in January of 2004, after an initial launch in October of 2003. Indeed, in April of 2004, 1&1 received the Web Host Directory's U.S. "Budget Web Hosting Award" based on the number of customer contracts, data centers, industry leading connectivity and best overall value in Web hosting. 1&1 Inc. is enjoying rapid growth and has signed up over 170,000 customers whilst 1&1 holds in total some 3 million-customer contracts worldwide. The company's four state-of-the art data centers collectively manage 630,000 GB of traffic whilst routing over 850 million customer emails each month.
HOSTSEARCH: Can you explain the relationship between 1and1.com and 1and1.co.uk? - What is the difference, etc?
ANDREAS: Whilst being a large International company, 1&1 has always believed in communicating on a regional level. Each market such as the US or the UK has a dedicated website with product offerings that are tailored to the specific needs of that market. Whilst a lot of products can be similar, we work hard to ensure that each group gets the very most from what we can offer. Dedicated websites also allow us to dedicate more energy to fulfilling the communication needs of each target market and offer the best possible pricing and features.
HOSTSEARCH: What is 1and1.com's process in localizing its services for international hosting market?
ANDREAS: Localizing services for our different geographies are crucial to fulfilling the needs of our diverse clients around the world. We have always made sure that we are providing the right services for a market. The recently announced availability of the .us domain is a good example of our efforts to tailor our service to specific geographies. The challenge is to find a cost effective way to mass market our products and build our brand quickly. In the UK this required 2 years and in the US we aim to achieve this more swiftly. Indeed, further geographic expansion may be seen in the near future in some additional European countries.
HOSTSEARCH: What techniques were used for 1and1.com to become one of the hosting industry leaders?
ANDREAS: 1&1 remains a leader in the hosting industry by offering feature-rich web hosting packages at extremely low prices. 1&1's differentiators include product combinations that enable every customer to access the latest web solutions. 1&1 Internet has successfully implemented strategies that increase efficiency and flexibility within the organization. We have benefited from automation, scalability models and mass production methods, which have made it easier to manage costs and pass on the savings to the customer. This has enabled us to offer extremely low prices such as hosting from $4.99 per month. A key benefit has been the development of our own software to automate the processes for domain name registration and hosting. 1&1 is one of the few hosting vendors, which own its own domain name registrar.
HOSTSEARCH: 1and1.co.uk is a long time market leader in UK and Europe. Since the company made big entrance in US market last year, can you explain the different of market between Europe and US, and what marketing techniques that you took from past experience?
ANDREAS: In Europe one has to address the unique market of each country separately. Most European countries have 2-3 dominant players per country mostly based within the country. In the US there are no dominant players as yet, but I believe that in the next 2-3 years we will see who becomes dominant there - a key reason why we have launched now in the US. Our marketing approach here has been to attract as many people as possible to try our services by themselves. Our initial promotional offer attracted some 140,000 subscribers and since the launch of our full product range we have continued to grow rapidly. I have participated in online forum discussions and learned even more about the needs of US customers that we have incorporated into our products.
HOSTSEARCH: Internet securities and virus threats are major concerns among end-users these days, what is 1and1.com approach to these issues?
ANDREAS: 1&1 offers virus scanning with all web-hosting products and works with leading vendors to ensure that our connections are 100% secure. Our approach could be seen at the recent outbreak of the Novarg/Mydoom virus. As well as utilizing our Carrier-Scan virus protection, the MX mail servers 1&1 developed on Linux were specially extended with a specific worm-filter against Novarg/Mydoom. These measures boosted our capabilities to find and treat the virus quickly. Thankfully, all 1&1 customers received protection from the virus. The Carrier-Scan virus protection technology 1&1 used constantly updated by Symantec anti-virus laboratories. The combination of this solution and our own on-going research enables all our customers to enjoy protection from the ever-growing virus threat.
HOSTSEARCH: As hosting industry becomes more and more competitive, how do you plan to cope with this challenge?
ANDREAS: We will continue to be a leader by doing what we do best - offering our customers the latest technology at an affordable price. It is true that there has been rapid growth in the global web hosting industry and indeed some markets appear to be saturated. Whilst this may mean less profit for vendors, ultimately, lower prices will mean more people using the web and so the industry will be stimulated to grow and develop new advancements in hosting technology. The more visionary companies such as 1&1 will use low prices to encourage as many customers as possible and reinvest profits into future developments. Companies such as 1&1 can increase profits by developing new features that generate more sales and increase revenue.
HOSTSEARCH: Where do you see yourself, 1and1.com and the industry as a whole in five years time?
ANDREAS: The industry will continue to evolve and I would expect to see more people accessing their applications and materials via the web. Continued growth within the wireless and 3G arenas will no doubt contribute to the future of web hosting. 1&1 will continue to provide products that will enable people to access the latest web technologies. It will be an exciting time and I expect I will still be enjoying my work at 1&1.
HOSTSEARCH: What is the first website you visit when you turn on your computer and why?
ANDREAS: Each morning I am sure to log on to gmx.de. This is the new portal of our free email service in Germany. We re-launched the portal two weeks ago and I always find something interesting to read there.