HOSTSEARCH: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started with HostGator?
BRENT OXLEY: My name is Brent Oxley, and I am Founder and President of Hostgator.
I started Hostgator 4 years ago while attending my first semester of college. Within a year, the business blossomed and had turned into a full time job. It was then that I realized an important decision had to be made. I could hand the business over to an associate, thereby allowing me to focus on attaining my business degree, or I could leave school, jump into the world of business with both feet and concentrate on taking my company to even greater levels.
Much to the dismay of friends and family, I opted for the latter and have since had no regrets about the decision I made. Today, Hostgator has grown from its humble beginnings into one of the world's largest reseller hosting providers, with a sizeable client base and multi-million dollar annual revenues.
I am living proof that anyone, if passionate enough, can create a successful business from the ground up. I plan on maintaining my key role as President of Hostgator for years to come, and with the help of my dedicated staff, will continue to provide the reliable, honest, and affordable service we are known for.
HOSTSEARCH: What makes you different from other web hosting companies?
BRENT OXLEY: Hostgator understands that if not for our loyal customers, we would not be where we are today. It is this understanding that helps us to remain grounded and focused on keeping our current customers satisfied while at the same time attracting new business. One unhappy customer is worth the weight of 1,000 satisfied customers in terms of how they can affect future business, so we strive to keep as many people happy as we can. We may receive 500 letters of praise in a month, but it is that one letter of dissatisfaction that keeps us up at night wondering how we can make things better. While it may never be possible to please 100% of our customers, we are going to run this business as if it is an attainable goal and will strive each month to inch closer to that mark.
HOSTSEARCH: What is your target market? How do you divide your market segmentation?
BRENT OXLEY: The short answer? Anyone with a need for reliable web hosting at an affordable price. While our main focus centers on the reseller segment of the market, we make every effort not to ignore those customers who may not require such services. There are a lot of people out there who are in need of quality dedicated and shared hosting services today, so we do our best to provide the best service and support for everyone, without favoring one segment over another.
HOSTSEARCH: Can you describe your support services?
BRENT OXLEY: The support services offered by Hostgator are second to none, really. We offer multiple avenues from which our customers may initiate support requests, including Email, Instant Message via AIM, Yahoo!, and MSN, Live Chat, Online Support Forums, and even 24 hour Phone Support. We try to make it as simple as possible for our customers to contact us in their time of need. To further simplify the process, we plan on implementing our new web-based ticket system sometime in 2005 - a feature our customers have demanded, and we are more than happy to provide.
HOSTSEARCH: In your opinion, what is the most challenging aspect of working in the web hosting industry? How do you cope with this?
BRENT OXLEY: Market saturation has always been a problem, and likely will continue to be such for years to come. Competition is fierce. With the costs of bandwidth and disk space dropping, and with reseller hosting gaining ground on the shared market, more people are deciding to try their hand at the hosting game - usually offering rock-bottom pricing, which is hard to compete with. Fortunately for us, the guys who advertise unlimited this and unlimited that for 99 cents a month are usually unable to deliver the level of support and customer satisfaction that we can provide, so while we will never be the cheapest solution, we are confident that a customers desire for quality service at an affordable price will always win over rock-bottom pricing.
HOSTSEARCH: Recently, anti-spyware activist site benedelman.org went down for about 2 days due to a 600MB+ per second DDOS attack. After security company Netcraft reported it they too went down briefly. If one of your clients were attacked in such a way how would you respond?
BRENT OXLEY: Security and Network Integrity is of the utmost importance to Hostgator, and that is why we have selected The Planet to provide our hardware and backbone. One of the great features offered by The Planet is their Cisco Network Guard. When these guards detect a possible DOS attack, they jump into action by diverting traffic destined for a target site, filtering the data stream while checking for anomalies, and performing protocol analysis to identify and block the attack while forwarding valid traffic to the destination site. We have seen this work first hand, and it is a remarkable technological advancement and one we are proud to offer our customers.
HOSTSEARCH: Can you tell us about your reseller program?
BRENT OXLEY: The Hostgator Reseller Program was developed from the ground up in order to provide our customers the most bang for their buck. We are constantly revising our reseller packages to remain competitive and accommodate our customers needs, and will continue to do so as often as necessary. Our Reseller servers come pre-built with popular software packages that our research has determined to be of the most use to both new and experienced resellers. We provide CPanel and Web Host Manager to each of our resellers, and have also added the popular Fantastico suite of server scripts. If there is something our Reseller Packages are lacking, we ask that our customers provide us with as much information as possible so that we may perform the necessary research and, if appropriate, add the script or program to our line of offerings. Our Reseller Program is not made of stone, and we are more than willing to modify it from time to time in order to give our customers the tools they need to become a successful hosting reseller.
HOSTSEARCH: What kind of hardware do you bring to the table?
BRENT OXLEY: All of our servers, whether they are used for shared or reseller customers, come equipped with Dual Xeon processors rated 2.4, Twin 200 Gigabyte Hard Drives, and RAID 1 disk mirroring. Most are now fitted with 4 Gigabytes of RAM, but those that are not will be upgraded shortly. Customers choosing a dedicated hosting solution may select from a few different hardware packages in order to find what best suits their needs.
HOSTSEARCH: BPL or broadband over power lines technology could massively increase the number of high-speed internet users in the next 10 years as well as giving any electronic device from microwaves to televisions the capability of receiving data from the internet. How do you think this will affect web hosting?
BRENT OXLEY: BPL is emerging as one of the great new technologies of the new millennium. While it is still years away from coming to widespread fruition, we are excited about the prospect of affordable broadband internet access being made available on such a large scale. To a web host, the concept of BPL is especially intriguing, and while I can't speculate as to how the web hosting market will be affected by the advent of BPL, I can assure you that Hostgator will keep one eye trained on the tech channels in order to remain informed on this hot new technology.
HOSTSEARCH: What can the world expect from HostGator in 2005?
BRENT OXLEY: We are always looking for ways to improve our services and lower costs so that we can pass the savings on to our customers. As in years past, we will be restructuring our hosting packages in order to remain competitive, but I cannot provide any concrete details just yet. All I can say that 2005 is going to be a great year for Hostgator, and a great year for Hostgator customers. Stay tuned!