HOSTSEARCH: Could you please reveal a little about yourself and your day-to-day role with SWsoft
KURT: Prior to SWsoft, I spent several years at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond (WA) managing a high-impact marketing and business group for SQL Server, a portfolio of successful Database and Business Intelligence server products. I helped contribute to growing the business past $1 Billion and with growth of up to 50% during this time (amazing for such a large software business).
While Microsoft was a great company to work at, I wanted to move to a smaller, higher growth company on the East Coast (where I'm from). I searched long and hard for a strong, high potential software company and overall team and found it in SWsoft.
Now, my role is to broaden and grow 's overall marketing efforts. My daily activities span across advertising, PR, collateral creation, website strategy, partner business development and more. I've found that while working in a start-up environment, I am able to execute much faster, but at the same time, I'm also trying to offer some of my direct experience from Microsoft to balance speed with prudence.
HOSTSEARCH: Can you give us a brief historical run through of Swsoft's development since establishment, and explain the role the company plays in the industry.
KURT: SWsoft has been in the hosting business since 1997. SWsoft's core differentiator is its development team. Our development team (many hired from the top engineering school in Russia) is comprised of over 200 people with a sole focus and mission of delivering the most innovative, and feature rich solutions for hosting service providers that are stable, secure, and the most user friendly products available.
Some would say that's too broad of a statement, but we firmly believe that if you produce a good stable product that people can actually use, then you will create a strong following. And, that's just what we've done.
To date, SWsoft's Plesk control panels are used by 8 of the top 10 hosting companies in the U.S. and deployed by the top 5 European hosting companies.
SWsoft solutions for hosting providers are extendable across many different OS platforms and include: Plesk, Virtuozzo, PEM, and HSPcomplete. We are expecting significant future growth from not only Plesk but also Virtuozzo and PEM in the hosting, Telco/ISP and Enterprise markets.
HOSTSEARCH: As you're former Microsoft Marketing Lead, how did you apply your last experience to market products for SWsoft?
KURT: My experience at Microsoft has forced me to think about all things that involve our customers and their needs and how we deliver on them far into the future. SWsoft is a leader in hosting automation software for a good reason-- we constantly utilize the feedback from our customers as the fuel for our success. That's why we've established an inclusive beta testing program for all of our products.
We recently launched Plesk 7 Reloaded Beta; our most comprehensive control panel to date that includes over 50 new features. This particular beta testing period will last about four to six weeks and will be available for production use in July 2004.
HOSTSEARCH: What is SWsoft's process in localizing its services for international market?
KURT: Our solutions currently power more than 50,000 servers in over 100 countries worldwide. All of our products include comprehensive language packs that are above and beyond what other automation vendors use, because of our unique ability to install a default language for administrators, and allow its customers to select another default language for their use.
SWsoft has offices around the world covering all major markets including the U.S., Germany, Singapore and Russia with more to come in the future. The stage is set for even better localization of our products through our growing network of translation partners. We have a distinctive capability of making each and every control panel or interface even simpler to use by providing default languages capabilities to customers worldwide.
HOSTSEARCH: What is your marketing goal/ marketing plan to drive SWsoft to become more successful in the industry?
KURT: Funny, that's exactly what our competitors want to know. The first step is to find and hire great talent on our team. Our overall marketing strategy is to quickly catch up to our development and customer relationship strength then go farther. There are some very simple, straightforward activities we need to undertake and some more exciting, broader strategies, which will be phased in over the next several months.
Some specific efforts we're working on now include broader public relations, broader advertising, partner deals with large and small-mid sized partners, several important upcoming product launches and more.
HOSTSEARCH: What characteristics do you see as SWsoft's main strength?
KURT: Not to repeat myself, but our core strength is and will remain our development teams who have been committed to the hosting automation space since 1997. They are our secret to success along with our overall organization's passion for delivering and supporting great product experiences.
HOSTSEARCH: As you gained a lot of experiences from working in market leader companies such as Microsoft and SWsoft, how do you predict the market trends in the next five years?
KURT: The challenge with successful software companies such as Microsoft and SWsoft is to continue to innovate and prove customer value while maintaining or increasing quality. SWsoft is going to lead as well as support software market trends in hosting and virtualization by aggressively changing what hosting providers, end users and enterprises can do with increasing software capability such as better utilization of IT assets, broader product/solution offerings, ease of deployment/use/maintenance/support, and much more.
HOSTSEARCH: As software industry becomes more and more competitive, how do you plan to cope with this challenge?
KURT: Growth and increased competition comes with all maturing markets. We welcome this challenge and will continue to focus on our aggressive R&D investment and customer relationships. Competition forces change, and with that change comes innovation. There will always be a demand for having the most cutting edge hosting automation product. That should place SWsoft at the top for foreseeable future.
HOSTSEARCH: What is the best selling product of SWsoft and why?
KURT: Plesk has been our best selling product in the past and present, and we are continuously adding new features and investing heavily in it. Also, our PEM product has recently received much interest by customers, and will predictably become a more significant portion of our business. Virtuozzo has been selling well globally and is broadly deployed and accepted as the only true VPS for hosting service providers. It is in the Enterprise space that Virtuozzo is gaining momentum, and should really continue to increase over the next several months.
HOSTSEARCH: What is the first website you visit when you turn on your computer and why?
KURT: The first website I visit (for about 5-20 seconds) when I come in the morning is MSN. I am biased from my time at Microsoft, but I immediately jump to the usual industry technology trade publications and hosting news websites. Then, throughout the day, I visit several competitors, partners, research firms, and other sites.
HOSTSEARCH: Thanks so much, Kurt, for great interview!
KURT: Thanks for the opportunity to engage in these questions and please look for much more exciting activities from SWsoft over the next few weeks including several key products launches and more!
HOSTSEARCH: Sure, keep in touch.