HOSTSEARCH: John - pleased to meet you; thanks for giving us your valuable time. Why don't you kick off by telling us a bit about Cirtex Corporation and its various parts, and your role in the organization?
JOHN XIE: No problem, it's my pleasure. I'll start with a little about how Cirtex Corp started and where we are today. CirtexHosting is the main brand of Cirtex Corp and it began in March of 2003. Since then we've grown to over 15,000 domains hosted, and we offer a wide array of services from shared Linux Web hosting services to reseller hosting and semi-dedicated hosting, all packed with rich features, some of which are exclusive to us. Just this year we launched our new division for managed Virtual dedicated and dedicated servers, www.hostv.com, and that's been allowing us to keep up with the demand and offer an even wider variety of services to our clients. My official title is President and CEO, but in reality, aside from making all the big decisions for the business and overlooking the entire operation, I'm also very involved in almost every aspect of the business, from helping with custom sales requests, to working with clients over the forums and over the phone. There are a wide range of issues that require my attention, but I would say my biggest task is to ensure a quality service for our customers and bring in new features and benefits for our customers on an ongoing basis.
HOSTSEARCH: You have been running Cirtex for just over 5 years now. What was your motivation for moving into such a competitive market?
JOHN XIE: That's a great question, and I think my answer will be one that is shared by many entrepreneurs. During the years before Cirtex Corp, I ran a wide variety of web sites and I've always been passionate about creating something and nurturing it to see it grow. Now, a time came when I experienced many problems with my service provider, and after migrating to two other providers, both of which disappeared or closed down within six months, I decided it was time to make a difference and provide a service that was not only affordable, but also very professional and customer friendly, and most of all reliable - a host that's always there for you. Each day I come to work, my biggest motivation is our customers and making sure they're happy, and this has always been the key aspect of our company culture.
HOSTSEARCH: What are you most proud of so far?
JOHN XIE: That is a very hard question to answer. There are so many things happening in the company on a daily basis, and I think each day there are several reasons for us to sense accomplishment - having a customer write a good response, or thank us makes us smile. But, I think the thing that I am most proud of is how great of a team we have here at Cirtex, and I can honestly say I am very happy with each and every one of our employees. Not only do we work well as a team, we also have a great time together.
HOSTSEARCH: I am curious about your approach... Most web hosts offer 'seamless' shared to dedicated solutions under one banner. But you have done it under two - separate websites, etc. Personally I like the idea, but why did you do things this way?
JOHN XIE: That is a very good question, and I've been asked this many times. Personally, I put a lot of thought into this, and there were so many levels and factors to consider before making this decision. We wanted to offer a managed hosting solution and new products to our existing and new clients, and doing this with a new brand made it much easier for customers to differentiate the services. Another good reason is the fact that I had the domain name HostV.com sitting around for a long time and really wanted to put it in good use, since it fit perfectly with the idea of 'V' being 'Virtual', and HostV offering a wide variety of services for Virtual Private Servers utilizing Parallels' Virtuozzo.
HOSTSEARCH: Taking a look at your plans, they are pretty impressive. Alongside some of the more traditional web hosting plan features you have Ruby on Rails on most plans, you have Fantastico which is loaded with installations, and on the dedicated side you have options like Virtuozzo. You really are going for a total solution approach, aren't you?
JOHN XIE: Yes, our company goal is to make web hosting user friendly, pre-packed, out of the box and ready for use once the customer places an order. Whether it is our shared hosting or VPS hosting, both are pre-setup in the same way to cater to our customers' needs.
HOSTSEARCH: What are your most popular offerings?
JOHN XIE: I would say currently it is our Basic Plan. And offering all of the features of our larger plans, along with FFmpeg and other video capabilities and tools, it is definitely a steal for anyone, especially those looking to start a website with all the tools needed for them to do so successfully.
HOSTSEARCH: Do you have any expansion plans? Perhaps new countries? If so, where might you be heading?
JOHN XIE: Currently that is still in the planning stage, but it is definitely on the horizon and we will announce it when the time is right.
HOSTSEARCH: And of particular interest to me are the FFmpeg options you mentioned that make servers ready to host video. Alongside this, on both sides of your organization, you offer a number of - for want of a better word - YouTube-clone options... And I have had a look at some of the sites you host and I must say they are pretty impressive. Is this a particularly popular option for your customers? Is this what people are primarily coming to you for?
JOHN XIE: FFMpeg is definitely a very unique feature that we offer, but customers are not coming only for the FFMpeg option.
HOSTSEARCH: It's interesting that with a monster like YouTube around people pursue video sites -they can just set up a YouTube channel. What's the motivation for your customers who want to utilize these options? Are they all looking to better YouTube?
JOHN XIE: Many are just creating niche sites for their own hobbies, such as video sites for soccer or hockey. Others are utilizing the feature to setup a separate section of their existing site to utilize FFMpeg feature's and allow users to upload videos and setup a community based on videos. Of course, there are also many customers looking to beat out Google and some HostV division customers are proving quite successful!
HOSTSEARCH: Do you envisage YouTube ever becoming less dominant? If so, what could remove it from its throne?
JOHN XIE: I don't see YouTube losing dominance as long as Google has a handle on it, but I do see it becoming less dominant in the future as competitors such as VEOH, DailyMotion and others become more and more competitive.
HOSTSEARCH: How far can this social networking stuff go? YouTube, Facebook, MySpace... where will they be in 5 years time and how will that leave traditional web hosts like yourselves?
JOHN XIE: It would be very hard to say what will happen in the next five years as there are just so many likely changes in the hosting industry, as well as the social networking scene. Not to mention the possibilities of new competitors and technologies in the upcoming years.
HOSTSEARCH: You were in the news fairly recently for your support of relief efforts after the recent earthquake in Si Chuan province of China. Your corporate responsibility pledge means you are going to be giving your money away to variety of causes. How important is corporate responsibility in your view, and is there enough of it around?
JOHN XIE: Yes, we recently worked with GracefulYouth to help with the relief efforts in China after the recent devastation after the Si Chuan Earthquake. It was a very fulfilling experience to be able to lend a hand to those in need, and personally I believe it is a not only a corporate responsibility, but also as humans we should always do our best to help others in such dire situations.
HOSTSEARCH: On a personal note, when you aren't being the linchpin between two organizations, what do you like to do in your free time?
JOHN XIE: Aside from reading about new technologies and gadgets, music is something I've always been passionate about, whether it's Jazz or Rock/Metal or even some modern techno/trance music - it always help me to relax and unwind a little. I also enjoy picking up my guitar every now and then and doing some gaming occasionally on my PC or Xbox360; first person shooters, RPGs, MMORPGs, RTS... you name it!