I began working on the Internet as an entrepreneur back in 1999, just dabbling around running websites. I ran an advertising network (NexAds), a web hosting directory (RateMyHost), and a few other websites before getting into the web hosting business. It was a really exciting time, because all of a sudden our generation, the PC-generation, had all of these great opportunities running website businesses. Given all of that growth in websites, and all of the focus on websites, it was easy to understand that the web site hosting industry would be a big one. I started a shared host as a result back in 2003(midPhase); built it, sold it in 2007 with over 160,000 customers amassed, and started SingleHop to focus on automating the deployment of servers and this time…. for LARGER websites. The logic was pretty clear; if customers were coming in droves to shared web hosting providers to build their sites, a percentage of them would inevitably need a larger solution to host their sites. This logic has proved to be correct. SingleHop hosts about 10,000 servers, and we’re growing quickly, just recently ranked 25 on the INC500.
As an entrepreneur & CEO, I obviously have to think about the opportunities that exist for our company but also the types of opportunities that our clients or potential clients have. In particular, how they relate to our services and in the data center. So you see, I believe much of our success has been that we are entrepreneurs, always trying to conjure up new ideas. There are few weeks that go by that we don’t think of an idea for an iPhone app., or a new business idea. While our ideas in the past were focused around websites and as a result hosting services built for websites, the ideas that we have today are very different. We aren’t still sitting around talking about how one day our clients will be able to allow their visitors to order pizzas online or how we’d like to start up a site similar to Digg but for sports (RIP FanPeg.com, circa 2005)- that’s old business, and as a host, we’ve had to think like an entrepreneur, and recognize the trends. The end-user is mobile, highly connected, and the numbers are staggering. The data center of today, with the sophisticated solutions that we’re providing (virtualization, robust networks and hybrid solutions), all converged together, equal more opportunity than I believe we’ve seen on the Internet thus far.
Perhaps for a little inspiration on the types of opportunities we’re seeing, an interesting fact is that the majority of devices that require electricity have processors, yet only 5% of them can communicate. I believe that more of these devices will begin communicating, particularly as more connectivity is available (3g/4g/wifi), and old products and industries will be disrupted via the sophisticated web hosting provider. My thermostat can be controlled by my iPhone, or by logging in to a web browser; all of which is stored in (hopefully) a reliable data center. As you can imagine, this company (http://www.ecobee.com) is disrupting what’s been an old and boring business by making me more efficient, and they find that around 80% of their customers program their thermostats, so the value is real and easy to understand. Another example is an investment that I made in a time clock business, which has also made an old device capable of communicating via WIFI. They host with SingleHop, so they have the ability to quickly scale as they add more users, and the service is obviously very reliable throughout. Through LEAP, they have access to a variety of tools that make their IT operations more efficient, and they can focus on investing in their business, rather than in technology.
The opportunities are vast for using the data center for product reinvention; I’m convinced of this now much more than before. As our entrepreneur clients are massively disrupting old and stale businesses, we’ll be right there to support them. As an infrastructure as a service provider, we will ensure those entrepreneurs that we aren’t still just a website provider and that we’ve evolved our services. We’re a highly reliable and automated infrastructure as a service provider, ready to scale on a moments notice, keeping up with the latest technologies, and growing to data center markets near you.