Today, on ‘Expert Speaks‘, we have Chris, Co-Founder & CEO at ScalaHosting & SPanel.
Chris has been in the hosting industry for more than 20 years. We are indeed thankful to Chris that he made time for answering our questions even in the midst of managing so many projects together.
In this conversation with us, Chris has shared his thoughts on WordPress hosting, how he manages his journey of excellence, and his work.
Hello Chris, Welcome to LearnWoo! We understand that you have been working with Scalahosting for more than 18 years. Can you give our readers an introduction to your journey & experiences so far?
In fact, I’ve been in the hosting industry for more than 20 years. In 2002 we started our first hosting company in Bulgaria, and we expanded globally in 2008 when ScalaHosting was founded in Dallas. In 2018, we started to create our own software solutions like SPanel and SShield, and since then, we have been growing rapidly. We wanted to use our extensive knowledge and experience to create applications and tools that make the VPS affordable and easy to manage. Every piece of software we create is based on what our customers really use and want, and for that purpose, we have a public platform at features.spanel.com, where everyone can suggest and vote for new features. That’s where we differentiate the most compared to all other hosting companies. Our infrastructure is fine-tuned for the hosting applications we create, and the result is super-fast websites and no license fees for 3rd party software like cPanel.
In ScalaHosting’s current stage of growth, what are the top challenges to deal with?
The biggest challenge is to let more and more web developers and website owners know that the VPS is no longer a difficult-to-manage hosting solution, and it’s not as expensive as it used to be. Believe it or not, more than 70% of the websites globally are still using the traditional shared hosting that has nothing else to offer besides being the cheapest solution. It’s slow, unreliable, and vulnerable because when you are sharing one server with hundreds of other users if one account on that server gets hacked or overloaded, all other accounts get affected. It’s also unfair because when you pay for a specific hosting plan, you are licked with particular resources, and if you need more CPU, RAM, or storage, you have to purchase the next plan. It means that you are always overpaying for what you are using, and the service is unscalable. Not to mention the email deliverability problems you will constantly suffer when you share the same IP with many other users. The VPS, on the other hand, is everything that the shared hosting is not. You have your own isolated cloud environment and dedicated IP, and no one can affect your website or emails. Adding one CPU or unit of RAM takes one click, and you always pay for what you really use. The two problems with the VPS were: higher cost and complex management. With SPanel, we believe we solved both because by not paying 3rd party software providers, our clients save big time and by basing it on our empiric experience we made the VPS management easy.
What is your approach to motivating and developing talent?
What motivates our employees the most is the fact that they work in a company that constantly innovates and they are among the first to try and experience technologies not seen before. The most recent example is our multi-datacenter-clustering solution which you can learn more about here: https://www.scalahosting.com/multi-datacenter-cluster.html
Can you describe your leadership style?
My leadership style I would say is highly democratic. Always trying to empower the people, and make them participate in the decisions we make.
Who were your biggest role models at the beginning of your career? Who do you look up to now?
Never had anyone who I thought was a role model to follow.
Looking back, what would you do differently in your career, if there is anything?
I would’t do anything differently
What is your typical workday like?
I always start with replying to emails as a warmup and then I dive into more complicated tasks. A usual working day starts at 8 AM and ends at 21 PM.
What is your next big milestone? How do you see yourself getting there?
The next big milestone is successfully completing the beta phase for SPanel and launching the stand-alone licensing in August this year at spanel.io. Right now we provide the software for free to anyone who wants to experience it and we are fixing the small bugs that are normal to appear in that phase.
Do you have a hobby outside of work that helps you be a better leader?
I’m passionate about scuba diving and I got a two CMAS stars certificates. The perfect vacation for me is a diving trip to little-known waters rich in underwater life.
What trends do you see in the industry – 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years from now?
The hosting industry is very dynamic technology-wise, but at the same time, it suffers a lot of inertia. Website owners rarely change their hosting provider even if their current one is not providing the fastest loading speeds and performance. For most of them, such a change is too much of a hustle and they are not aware of how important is all that for their SEO and online presence. This is the reason why the VPS segment is still relatively small but in countries like Japan and the US, we already saw a 15-20% increase in the VPS market share in 2021. In the next one year, I expect this trend to increase as more website owners realize that the hosting industry is changing and they are not following the trend. In 5 years I expect the VPS to become more popular than the traditional hosting and we will finally experience a much faster and more secure global web. On a corporate level, I expect big companies like GoDaddy and those from the EIG group to sell their business or disappear because they are still doing the same what they were doing for the past 20 years – selling shared hosting plans and domains. They don’t innovate and every dollar is invested in marketing and advertising instead in R&D. It has been raining money on fools for too long as one of my favorite entrepreneurs said back in May.
Have the company’s resources been managed and deployed in the best way possible to achieve its objectives?
I believe so. Most of our competitors surrendered their own data center infrastructure and migrated to Google Cloud and AWS. Yes, the savings they are making by not buying server hardware are significant but the drawback is that they are locked with someone else’s technology and limitations. We took a different approach and we did it both – we have our own data center clusters across the US and Europe and at the same time we integrated DigitalOcean and AWS for those who prefer their infrastructure.
What was the path you took to get to where you are today? And do you have any words of advice for those who want to follow your career path?
What I always wanted is to work in a company that provides unique services and leads the way technology-wise. Getting where we are today took us more than two decades, but being in the hosting industry for so long gave us several unique perks. Basically, innovation can happen in two ways – spontaneously, which is very rare, or by building a critical mass of knowledge and experience. The second is the most sustainable way to innovate because when you have the maximum amount of knowledge, you can create new knowledge and use it to invent new ways to make it worthwhile. Over the past 20 years, our hosting support agents have been dealing every day with all sorts of problems – from hacked hosting accounts to slow-performing websites and blacklisted IP-es. The solution to every such problem was used to grow a local knowledge base, the primary use of which was to help the newcomers in our company quickly learn how to support customers. Several years ago, we found that some of the solutions we got were unique, and that’s how we decided to develop our SPanel and SShield. That’s when my journey started to be super exciting because from there on, the sky was the limit. My advice to anyone who wants to make a difference is not to rush for quick results but instead to be mindful of what’s happening inside the company and build enough experience and knowledge before scaling up the business.