HOSTSEARCH: Peter, thank you for giving us an opportunity to talk with you today.
PETER JANETT: Sure, it's exciting to be a part of this, and always fun to share my perspective.
HOSTSEARCH: First of all, can you please tell us about yourself?
PETER JANETT: I was a rock and roll bass guitar player before I got involved in the internet. I actually got started doing web development by putting up a website for the last band I tried to put together back in 1996. The band never came together, but it had a website, and I eventually had a career. I snuck into a computer lab at a college my then wife attended, and discovered the internet. I taught myself html from viewing the source of other web pages, then started learning Perl, and in late 1996 opened an e-commerce site that sold concert t-shirts.
HOSTSEARCH: New Media One Web Services has a long history. Can you please tell us more about the company?
PETER JANETT: I moved to Boulder Colorado in 1996, and got a job converting print magazine articles to HTML at a company working in the natural products industry. At the same time, I started getting freelance work from people who needed help modifying or setting up shopping carts, and launched www.NewMediaOne.net. At that time, most of the contact came from email discussion groups. Back then, almost all online commerce was written in Perl, and I'd get little jobs modifying simple Perl shopping carts from people who say me providing help to others on email lists. After Perl, I moved into Cold Fusion, and now use php almost exclusively.
SSL certificates were very expensive, and since the industry was so new, no one in the business at the time had a lot of experience. It was a really neat atmosphere, as there was a sense that you could ask or answer any question, as no one had been doing it long enough to forget what it was like to be learning about it.
Back then, there weren't that many hosting providers, and even less providers that were setup to allow "Perl scripting" and "SSL" so e-commerce hosting and development was actually a specialty. I found that many times clients would need me to help with their shopping cart setup, but that their web host did not provide the basic things they needed. That led me to start reselling hosting.
Within a month or two of being a reseller, the provider I was reselling started having email issues. I realized at that point that I was too much of a perfectionist and control freak to resell someone else's solutions. (I never again wanted to have customers calling asking what was happening, when I didn't know myself.)
I had completed setting up a natural products "portal" site, which included a free web-based email service. (This was back when hotmail was pretty much the only free web email provider.) I learned a lot setting up the free web based email setup and also learned how important email is to clients when the hosting company I originally resold was having it's email issues. So, within a few months of being a reseller, I moved my clients to my own dedicated server, so I could have full control and provide reliable email service.
HOSTSEARCH: You specialize in business hosting and your prices are higher than the prices offered in the market. Can you please tell us why you chose to be in this segment?
PETER JANETT: As a perfectionist, I want to provide very high end service, and when a client calls, I want to be able to solve their issue directly and immediately. This means having direct access and full control of the server while on the call, and knowing my clients by name. Our prices start at $49.99 per month, so we aren't the most expensive, but we also don't compete with all the high volume budget providers out there. We basically fill the need of businesses who depend on their web and email service enough that saving $30 a month is not worth the risk of using a large provider. Our clients also value their time enough that direct support resolutions by someone who knows them is worth a little extra per month. (We are also unique because we are web developers as well as a hosting provider, so we can help answer a clients need if it is development related, although we are VERY careful to let our clients who are developers own that part of the business with their clients.)
To sum up, we fill the need of business clients who need high end reliability and consistent, personalized, one-on-one support.
HOSTSEARCH: Do you have any plans to expand to other area of hosting, such as VPS or Cloud?
PETER JANETT: I think the cloud is very interesting, and we've started testing Amazon's cloud service for a few clients. I think the real truth however, is that often human error is what takes down a server. The recent T-mobile sidekick data loss is a good example of how no matter what type of hardware or cloud setup you have, human error can take it all down. I think we are successful as a company because we are small enough to know exactly what is going on across all the services we offer. We've learned over the years how to ensure no web site or email downtime when moving a client to or from our service, and that is just knowledge, regardless of if it's a cloud, VPS, etc.
In recent years we've launched a few hosted applications, the most notable is www.NewMediaMLS.com, a web site solution for real estate agent websites. It's not a cloud, but it may someday live in the cloud. The service does leverage a single property database and one property image repository for all the sites using the service, while at the same time giving the client full design control and standard FTP access to design and modify their site.
I'm not a fan of VPS, as I think hardware costs are the lowest cost in developing and deploying a site. I think often a client thinks they want the full control they can get from a VPS server, but in the end, they'd be better off having someone else manage their site on a shared server, or having someone else manage a dedicated server for them.
Managing a server and all the software on the server takes a lot of time and knowledge, so having a VPS setup means you'll have multiple copies of all the software to manage. In my opinion, the cost of hardware and the pace hardware improves means that having to only manage one OS and software set at a time means the costs involved in managing a server is much higher than the hardware cost. Based on that, in most cases, if a client needs full control over a server, they can likely manage an actual server, and then have the full resources of that server, if they do need it.
I guess I'd say the bottom line with any type of these buzz words is that in the end, if you can truly understand your client's needs, and provide a real solution to those needs, consistently and cost effectively, you can succeed. We've stayed a smaller company on purpose, basically because we want to maintain a very high level of service. Our biggest challenge to growth is finding people who have a wide understanding of all aspects of hosting and development.
HOSTSEARCH: Talking about the current economic situation, are you facing the downturn? How do you view this crisis effecting hosting business in general?
PETER JANETT: We have seen a slowdown, especially in our non profit clients. Grants have ended, and I think donations to non profits are down. We didn't see a slowdown until February of 2009. I think before that time, even though the economy was down, many clients were trying to invest what they had in web work that would allow them to reduce their labor costs, and in many cases, they were trying to do that by the end of 2008. The other thing I've personally noticed is that their are not a lot of new small business starting up. In prior years, we'd see many projects started by people with a new idea. They were small businesses started while the owners kept their main jobs. I think with the economy down, there are less people ready to attempt to turn their ideas into a business.
How the economy plays out in the hosting business is hard to say, but I think other factors may have a much bigger effect, such as the fast growth of mobile web use, and the possible entry of Google into the market. In my opinion, the danger for the industry overall is, and will continue to be, price wars that erode profit margins. Without profit margins, it becomes just a game of quantity, and quality suffers. In some ways, I think that the race for the most clients at the lowest cost in our industry is working for me, as I can be different. I believe businesses count on their web and email service, and having a business class hosting provider behind their site is a good business decision.
HOSTSEARCH: What can we expect from New Media One Web Services in the future? What is your short-term goal?
PETER JANETT: In the next couple months, we are launching MyHomeMatches.com, which is our first direct to consumer real estate site. We're taking what we've learned doing sites for real estate agents and bringing it directly to the end user, with a strategy to also serve agents by bringing clients to them and integrating the agent into our site.
I am a partner in iRealtyCO.com, which is a web site and Iphone app for real estate agents in Colorado. We are doing more and more development on the mobile side of things, and plan to expand the real estate services nationwide.
We are also launching a new simple content management system that will allow a site to also have a mobile version, with upgrades to native apps on Android, iPhone and Blackberry.
HOSTSEARCH: Well, we look forward to see your success in the coming years. Thanks again for giving us an opportunity to talk with you today.
PETER JANETT: Thank you, I hope this information is helpful to your readers, and look forward to discussing these ideas with anyone who'd like to talk about them.