Article by Jerry Low
Geek dad, SEO data junkie, investor, and founder of Web Hosting Secret Revealed. Jerry has been building Internet assets and making money online since 2004. He loves mindless doodling and trying new food.
I have always wanted to test more hosting companies and review them on Web Hosting Secret Revealed (WHSR). Even though I already have more than dozen reviewed*, there is still a long list of other web hosts that I wish to try out.
SiteGround (http://www.siteground.com) – a name you often bump into on various webmaster forums – is one of the names topping of the list. With the help of Site Ground marketing personnel Svetla Angova, I was able to squeeze into Site Ground CEO, Tenko Nikolov’s busy schedule for an online interview. The company has just wrapped up an annual client satisfaction survey last week so there are plenty of talking points.
* Updates: Here’s my in-depth SiteGround review, first published in 2014 and updated every two months.
Without wasting more reading space, here’s the Q&A.
Hello Tenko, I understand that you were a law student at first but you are now leading a tech-based company. What’s the story behind this?
Well, I come from a family with a long tradition in practicing law.
However, my heart was in technology since I was in high school. As soon as I started working part-time in SiteGround during my second year in law school, I felt that my future is not in the law field.
That’s interesting. What more can you tell us about SiteGround business as for today?
We currently host nearly 250K domain names. There are 120 people working for SiteGround and we operate servers in 3 data centers around the world – USA, Europe and Singapore. As to our target audience, initially we seemed to attract more new starters on the web type of customers. Well, there truly were more people just starting on the web 10 years ago.
However, we have gradually shifted our efforts towards more advanced users. Especially after the significant re-branding we implemented last year, there was a serious growth in the number of web professionals, who build and maintain websites for a living, choosing our service. We developed a highly-optimized service for Joomla and WordPress users, as a result many fans of these two applications became our customers.
SiteGround is different than the rest in many ways. For example, some of the server features (ie, SuperCacher and Pre-Installed GIT) offered are not seen very often in others’ plans. What can we know more about this?
I think that what makes our hosting plans different is not a single software or policy we introduce, but the fact that most things we do are based on a unique philosophy. This philosophy is that we always try to invent new and unique solutions, instead of relying on the massively available ones.
The SuperCacher (learn how it works) is a good example. It is a tool that allows our customers to take advantage of multiple speed optimization technologies like Varnish and Memcached. The unique thing is that we were the first to implement Memcached in a shared server environment. The GIT integration also was made available uniquely on our servers, with the ease of its use in mind.
Security is always a major concern for webmasters and bloggers. What more can you share about your security team? And, how does the team work together?
There are two ingredients that make our security team so successful.
First, they are always on the watch. We monitor multiple sources of information for all kinds of vulnerabilities and exploits that can affect our servers and customers. In this way we manage to be among the first ones to learn about any threats. Second, they are incredibly creative in resolving problems – which means that as soon as they discover an issue they use their expertise to find an original solution independently. This approach is much faster than the industry practice where the security team waits for someone else to solve the problem and then applies a ready-made solution. Apart from their responsibility to constantly check for current issues and fix them, the security team works continuously on projects to increase our security, not as a response to an existing problem, but as a prevention from future ones.
I believe you already have the company annual customer satisfaction survey result on hand. Could you tell us more about it? And in your opinion, what are some of the areas that need improvement in 2014?
The results of the survey really exceeded my expectations.
This is the second year we ask our customers about their opinion on such a large scale. I was a little afraid that after the outstanding results we saw last year, it will be hard to get better feedback. However, we not only managed to keep the extremely high satisfaction rates (above 95% on all aspects, including support, speed, security and up-time), but also achieved a change in the perspective of our customers through communicating better our strengths, which was an issue we identified last year. You can see full results in our blog.
When it comes to the challenges for next year, we have some ideas in mind about re-launching our reseller program. For this reason we were interested in the feedback received by our current reseller clients. Also, we have been watching the growing market for cloud services as an area with a big potential for us that we plan to explore further.
SiteGround Customer Survey Results in A Glance
We have seen quite a few large acquisitions and mergers in recent years – millions, if not billions, were made by founders of hosting companies. What’s your thought on this? Is selling-out or buying other companies part of the Site Ground’s expansion plan in the next 18 months?
SiteGround has always been a little different from the typical start-up mentality.
We have not created all this, with the goal to sell it.
For me, personally, being involved in creating and developing a cool, innovative and perfectly self-sustaining company is a good place to be. As to buying other companies, this is definitely a possible way to grow. Technology companies that have already developed quality services, which we consider useful, are more interesting to me at this point, than companies in the hosting industry itself.
That’s all for my questions. Thanks!