German Web Hosting Provider Plans Significant U.S. Expansion

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2005-10-27 Print this article Print

1&1 plans significant expansion over the next 18 months in both the United States and around the world, with its goal to be in the top 5 of Web hosting and domain registrars in the U.S. in two years.

KARLSRUHE, Germany—International Web hosting provider 1&1, based here, plans significant expansion over the next 18 months in both the United States and around the world. In less than two years, 1&1 has vaulted into the top 10 of Web hosting and domain registrars in the United States. But according to CEO Andreas Gauger, in a series of wide-ranging discussions held here, he wants more. Much more. "In the UK were No. 2, and soon well be No. 1. We wont get to No. 1 in the U.S. soon, but I want to be in the top five in two years," Gauger said. His two-year goal would require doubling 1&1s current customer base of around 250,000 to a half-million.
1&1 has built its success on three key pillars: network and customer-service automation, offering free home-grown Web development and software tools, and its own customized Linux distro that allows the company to pack upward of 25,000 customers on a single machine—compared with an industry standard of around 5,000. This translates into an ability to offer extremely low prices and an abundance of features and still make money.
1&1 offers a lot more than basic domain registration packages. Click here to read PC Magazines review of 1&1s Professional eShop. The Linux distro has evolved over 10 years, combining some from Red Hat, some from Debian and a little bit from SuSE too. "Microsoft .Net never worked," Gauger explains, although new versions are closer to Apaches carrying capacity. The company employs a small army of Linux developers in its Karlsruhe headquarters, many drawn from the Technology University across town. To keep pushing the market, Gauger plans on adding even more features to 1&1s basic hosting package. The company has just finished a three-year in-house development project that delivered a CSS-based framework that makes it easy to deploy new capabilities for its small and midsized customers. "To keep market leadership we will invest in features that only someone with a big company can afford." Those features include traffic reporting tools, spam filtering and virus protection, a PDF-to-Web converter, and more. The site development engine features Web templates from top designers in Europe, and a new e-commerce capability that lets premium customers quickly set up shop on the Web. An expanded Web shop will be out later this year, integrated into the rest of the software. 1&1 is embracing software as a service as well. The company plans on offering everything a small business needs to operate on the Web, including accounting, HR and other back-office functions. "Some stuff we will do on our own," Gauger explains, and others will come from partnerships. The company does not yet offer blogging tools, although those are due in the first quarter of 2006. The company explored buying popular blog company Six Apart, but in the end decided to build the capabilities in-house. "We wanted integration into the rest of the systems," explains Gauger, as the reason why he backed away from the deal. Acquisitions arent out of the question, though, when it comes to gaining market share in the United States. The company was rebuffed, however, by one of its biggest competitors in the United States: "Go Daddy wouldnt sell to us," Gauger laments, "and now hes trying to buy us." Next Page: 1&1 is not for sale.

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


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