Interview with WPEngine Founder Jason Cohen

2012-04-06 13:24 Posted by: Anthony Zhan in Interview, News Go to Comment

About Jason Cohen

jason-cohenJason previously founded Smart Bear Software, maker of Code Collaborator, the world’s most popular tool for peer code review and winner of the Jolt Award. Jason took Smart Bear from start to multiple millions in revenue and 50% profit margin without debt or VC.

Jason is also a mentor at Capital Factory (like TechStars or Y-Combinator in Austin) and the co-host of OnStartups Answers along with Dharmesh Shah.

Jason lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, a chef who blogs about cooking healthy at home, and his daughter Abby.

BWH2Go Interview

What is the History of your company?

We started a year ago because I couldn’t find a hosting company that focussed on WordPress, was obsessed with page-load speed, could handle traffic spikes, and would handle security for me.

But I did find lots of other people wanted it to. The technology was fun to play with, so I just started.

Now we serve 100 million objects a day. Amazing how big the Internet is!

Can you shortly introduce your product, and its target markets?

If you’ve outgrown the $7.99 hosting services but you don’t want to do the IT work of self-hosting WordPress, or you’ve tried self-hosting but you want your content served faster and to withstand traffic and hackers, that’s where we come in.

It’s good for bloggers who care about their blog, companies using WordPress as their home page or blog, or WordPress consultants who don’t want to worry about the hosting part.

What makes WPEngine different to other hosting companies?

We do only WordPress, so we do it well. Our tech support actually answer WordPress-specific questions.

Why should somebody choose WPEngine over another host?

For the same reasons!

Can you talk something about your data center and servers?

The only way to get the speed we have is top-notch hardware — RAID-10 drives, dedicated boxes, security appliances, Xeon processors. None of that cool-but-slow cloud stuff. Everything’s redundant, blogs are served off multiple servers (so a few can explode and you won’t notice), and there’s a person with ass-in-chair 24/7 in case something happens.

What Support WPEngine are offering to the customers? Everyone has access to our top-notch WordPress-specific tech support. Of course everyone claims to have great tech support, so the only way to prove it to yourself is to write in (howdy@wpengine.com) and see for yourself!

How do you see the web hosting market changing in the upcoming few years, and what make you confident in the future of WPEngine?

If I had a crystal ball, I’d have a lot more money than I do! :-)

I think basic hosting is commoditized. Having a thin slice of an overloaded server for $9/mo is just fine if that’s what you need, but that market is over. Hosting dedicated hardware or cloud-based virtual hardware with no application-level support is also very useful, but also well-understood and commoditized.

It’s in the application-specific hosting that there’s still room for tons of innovation, and that’s what we’re doing. We serve WordPress faster than anyone, but others could give us a run for our money because it’s not over! We do neat things like put all our customers on a CDN for even faster and more scalable websites, but others could too!

In short, there’s room for us to do amazing new things, but since others potentially can too, we also have to keep on our toes and keep improving the service.

And that’s why this is the future of hosting — it’s where the innovation is.

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