It’s time to nut up or shut up

It’s time for me to nut up or shut up.

I need to put my money where my mouth is.

We’re going to separate the men from the boys.

I’m going to whip out the dick, slap it on the table, and get out a ruler.

Did I miss any other clichés?

I’ve been lecturing you about how to build honest, successful little bootstrapped startups for a few years now, and you’ve been patient, attentive, and in those spunky moments which I very much appreciate, vehemently argumentative.

But I can’t rest on my laurels. I need to build a new company and do it in front of you, so you can see me walk the walk. Smart Bear is no longer a sufficient excuse for me to give advice.

See, my companies Smart Bear and ITWatchDogs are both in a can’t-fail situation with regard to my personal reputation. Yes they were successful, but both were sold, which means if anything goes wrong I can just blame it on the new guys and I retain a pristine reputation.

That’s nice for me I suppose, but it ought to give you pause. What if the reason Smart Bear was successful is different than what I’m preaching here? What if it was mostly luck? What if the lessons I learned then aren’t as applicable now? What if all this is just survivor bias?

Can he do it again?

Let’s find out.

I’ve started a new company called WPEngine.com: Fast, Secure, and Scalable WordPress Hosting. It’s real: this blog and 50 others are hosted there right now.

I could describe it and tell you why you should host your blog there too, but another thing I’m going to do is bring you along in the journey of making this company: The thought process in decisions we make, the mistakes, the successes, how we recognize the difference, how we interact with customers, how we thrill some, how we piss others off, and how we expect to pay the bills.

So check out the website! What do you think? What’s your first reaction? We can chat in the comments about what’s good and bad.

Oh, and of course if you’d like to experience this yourself — both an awesome WordPress experience and working with me and other super talented people on this new venture — sign up for a site and join the party!

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  • http://cl.o.se thruflo

    $49 Monthly — that goes past my pain point. Ouch.

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

      Yup, it’s high for some people.

      It’s like backup — before you experience a crash it all sounds expensive and annoying. Then you lose your hard drive and immediately sign up for a $39.95/mo plan.

      WordPress security is like that. We get a lot of refugees from people who got hacked.

      • http://www.trafficspaces.com Niyi

        “It’s like backup — before [the unexpected happens] it all sounds expensive and annoying. Then you [get hacked] and immediately sign up for a $39.95/mo plan”

        I love that line. My startup provides a premium ad manager and I’ll remember that line when the next person points out that “OpenX is free”.

        We also get a lot of refugees from people who finally got fed up with the free ad servers.
        :)

      • http://cl.o.se thruflo

        Yup, forgive the slightly facile comment.

        It’s pretty clear from the price and the feature set that you’re targeting “serious” bloggers, which makes a lot of sense given the plethora of free(mium) offers out there.

        Aka, scratching your own itch ;)

      • http://blog.olegkokorin.com Oleg Kokorin

        That’s totally true, except that I’d pick a $5 monthly plan.

        Blog hosting has become a commodity, so you need a really huge scale to make it successfull. IMO, impossibly huge. The journey will be interesting!

        • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

          I think we need just 1,000 users at $49/mo.

          Yes, $10/mo hosting is a commodity — interchangable and universally poor both in product and service.

          Fortunately that’s not the game we’re playing!

      • anon

        Is it a conspiracy by Squarespace to make them look cheap???

    • http://nickstraffictricks.com Nick Stewart

      It certainly is too much money for a lot of people. But if you’re a serious blogger who makes more than $2 a day then I can see how this would be totally worth it. Especially the One-Click Staging.

      This is definitely something I’m going to consider in the next few months. I used to host my blog at one of the cheap discount hosts until my sites started going down because they had too many websites hosted on a single server. I then spent eight hours and migrated everything to a virtual private server. I really like my VPS because it’s stable and I have control over everything but I don’t like having to manage it.

      So I will definitely be keeping my eye on WPengine.


      Nick, The Traffic Guy

  • A-ron

    …and approximately 18,000 prospects. How convenient ;) I wish I had that kind of mailing list starting out.

    I still luv ya.

    BTW, how are you defining success?

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

      Absolutely true, it’s a completely unfair advantage, and it’s why so many people harp on folks to start things like blogs and mailing lists on topics they are interested in, so that when you want to do things like sell a book or a new startup you have a running start!

      Success for me is defined as: Creating a company that generates at least $30k/month in profit after paying everyone reasonable salaries, while it’s still growing.

      Why? Because that means it’s sustainable, probably for years, can bonus out enough that everyone makes good money, and in the event that a sale makes sense (which we’re not even thinking about today), we can demand a large valuation.

      Of course a number like “$30k” is arbitrary, but that’s the ballpark for me personally.

      • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

        Very interesting. Would love to know what net margin percentage you are targeting? $30k/mon profit on $750k/year (~50% margin) is a very different company than $30k/mon profit on a company making $20mil/year (~2% margin.)

        • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

          I’m hoping that we can hit that profit target on $1m in revenue, which means about 1,000 customers (because although some pay $50/mo, many pay $99/mo for more service and some large sites are paying $1000+/mo).

          Time will tell! I’ll be sharing my financial projection model too sometime in future.

  • http://www.alstertouch.com Konstantin

    Great idea! But not entirely fair: starting from scratch means you’re nobody, no one have ever heard of you. You’re making it the easy way: publish this post (it’s a promotion), so that thousands of users will see it.
    And: what about money? Are you really starting from scratch?..

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

      Actually we have 50 paying customers already before this post….

      ….but I completely agree with you! Yes it’s unfair. Of course, I’d be silly not to capitalize on my unfair advantage, no?

      • http://www.alstertouch.com Konstantin

        You are saying “so you can see me walk the walk.”, but rather I’d like to see you really starting from nothing, so that boys can see how men do it ;-)

        • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

          A fair point! But still of course I’m going to use every advantage I can.

          What I will do though is be as transparent as possible about the decisions we make and some numbers, and answer questions best I can.

          • http://www.hectorramos.com Hector Ramos

            To be fair, I had heard of WPEngine a few weeks back and thought it was a great service. I had no idea it was Jason’s new venture.

            I’m currently on the Squarespace $14/month plan for my personal blog, but I have a couple of self-hosted WordPress sites in incubation which I was planning to migrate to WordPress.com, WPEngine.com or some other hosted service. It’s neat to play around with self-hosted WordPress, but I have too much on my plate to be paying attention to all the WordPress fixes and tips.

            Looking back, whenever I set up a new self-hosted WP, after the initial 2 hours going through plugins and themes, I might spend 2 hours or more every weekend hunting down the cause of any slowdowns. 8 hours a month at least… I’d rather pay $49 and work on my startup and stop worrying about my sites :)

            You know what would make me switch my Squarespace blog to WordPress this instant? Any tool that helps me write the necessary 301 redirects so that my most popular blog posts keep their Google juice when ported over. Already tried it once, and spent too much time going through various issues with the WP permalinks and images not showing up and well, I decided to keep paying Squarespace even when I already have a server to run WP on.

            • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

              Maybe try WPEngine then — we might have some answers to the post URLs, including keeping the old structure and/or a tool to do the redirections for things like image paths and post URLs. Let’s try!

      • Anon Cowherd

        So, how exactly did you get those 50 first customers, and are you sure that in getting them, you didn’t somehow benefit from any of your other ventures, or this blog?

        That would make the scenario realistic. Otherwise it’s difficult to compare this and someone who’s actually starting from scratch.

        • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

          I will detail how we did that in a future post, good question.

          Of course my past success and this blog helped! So I cannot separate that, and I’m not comparing that to someone just starting out.

          Rather, I’m going to be transparent, hopefully cull some tips that would still work without some of these advantages, and suggest that perhaps anyone can do this at some scale if not the same scale.

          You make a good point, and I hope you will help keep me honest in that regard!

          • Anon Cowherd

            Someone else suggested you should have started the new business under an alias, and I agree.

            For example, how do you think this blog post will affect your new business? It might give it quite a big boost.

            You’re making a big deal out of supposedly starting from scratch, and putting your own advice to the test, but I think your experiment is too unrealistic to match the hype.

            I’m sure most of your advice works, but someone who’s really starting out can’t follow advice like “have a popular blog, or be a well-known expert in your field, and you’ll get customers”, etc.

            You won’t be shutting WPEngine down, of course, so you should start yet another company without _any_ connection to you or your other ventures. Keep it secret, but blog about its progress here, and _that_ will be just as awesome as this post makes the current experiment out to be.

            I have a feeling you may have realized the disparity here, but just gave in to the temptation to take advantage of what you have.

            > I’ve started a new company called WPEngine.com: Fast, Secure, and Scalable WordPress Hosting.

            You’re even trying to maximize the Google Link Juice you’ll get from this post, and tracking click-throughs from that link to the new site.

            • http://blog.olegkokorin.com Oleg Kokorin

              Come on guys, give it a break already.

              It is not a scientific experiement. Why do these weird things, like starting under an alias, not use the blog, etc.?

              If you have/don’t have a good blog, it’s not gonna make or break your new company.

          • Anon Cowherd

            Oh, I forgot to mention that despite its flaws, this experiment will be interesting and useful too. It’s just not all it could be.

            • http://www.chromashop.com/ chroma

              Agree with many of these points here by Mr Cowherd. But good luck. Will be looking forward to all that you have to share with us.

  • Peter

    How is this better than http://en.wordpress.com/products/?

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

      Great question! Tons of ways. WordPress.com….

      1. Doesn’t allow Javascript. (So no dynamic elements and no Google Analytics)
      2. Doesn’t allow arbitrary plugins. (Because they severely restrict what they can do — many of the plugins I use on this blog are illegal there.)
      3. Doesn’t do the speed optimizations we do (some of our WordPress.com refugee customers report 3x speed improvements)
      4. Doesn’t put your media on a CDN for free (not yet announced but we’re starting to roll that out!)
      5. Doesn’t have quality, email tech support (you have to troll around on forums)
      6. Doesn’t recommend plugins (we know which ones are still supported and work well)
      7. Doesn’t have the “staging” feature

      To name a few.

      • dude

        It’s a piece of cake to make a pretty cake. WHAT!?

      • Jodo Kast

        You should advertise this instead of hiding the information in “Replies to Comments”.

      • http://blog.criticalresults.com Mark W Schumann

        Nice! I’m gonna have to check this out.

      • Max Fert

        Having these answers is only halfway there. They need to be communicated in your marketing before people even ask the question.

      • Anonymous

        Now this is something really good. Like it

  • http://kylecordes.com Kyle Cordes

    WPEngine is an excellent idea, in a substantial market. I predict considerable organic growth, then a sale to a large premium hosting vendor.

  • http://www.manyhatsmarketing.com Carrie Requist

    As a consultant who has built client websites and client WordPress sites (currently hosted at hostgator.com), I am part of your target market. My first impression of your website:
    1) The “Curated Plugins” and “One-Click Staging” messages resonated more with me than “fast, secure and scalable” did although the later is more prominent. I build sites for small, local businesses and fast, secure and scalable become problems primarily with sites that have significant numbers of users (which is not the majority of sites). Choosing appropriate plugins from the massive amounts available and staging the site are both issues I deal with regularly. So, the main messages I need are not the primary ones on the home page.
    2) One-Click Staging is a bit confusing. The big deal here is Staging – that I can test the site before it goes live, which I can’t do with regular WP hosting. The One-Click just distracts from this message.
    3) The gray bar of names confused me. Maybe it is since I know ‘a smart bear” and know you are a founder in this company, it made me think this was a list of related products or something. As I clicked on these more, it dawned on me that these must be examples of WP sites hosted from WPEngine. I think you want a title or something for this area so people don’t have to figure it out. “Examples of Awesome Sites that we Host – Yours Could be Here” or something like that.
    4) On the features page – again the issue about what features are really more important. Also, I first read it as “Easy to Try, Easy to Love” but I re-read as see that it is “Easy to Try, Easy to Leave” To me, “try” says that it is easy to leave otherwise it is not easy to try, it is easy to join or start. I wouldn’t change the text, just the heading.
    5) The Sign Up menu did not make me think that is where I would find pricing.
    6) In the first question in the FAQ (Why is WPEngine better than hosting with the competition?), I suggest you start with why you are better instead of why they are worse. Move the 1st paragraph to be 3rd.

    • http://flavors.me/juliegomoll Julie Gomoll

      I’m with you, Carrie. The thing that jumped out at me most was the idea of having a staging server. I’m in the process of moving one of my blogs over now, and plan to migrate my clients over soon after.

      Seriously, I just can’t wait to have a staging server. I’ll be so much more willing to try Bold New Ideas knowing I won’t have to worry about breaking anything!

  • http://www.rdbhost.com dkeeney

    Unrealistic.

    In order to really re-prove yourself, you would have to do this psuedonymously, and report it after the fact. Your fame gives any business you put your name on a head-start on the competition.

    • http://www.hectorramos.com Hector Ramos

      I’d argue that using all of your hard-earned advantages is part of being a great businessman. Lots of funded startups go on to great success, but I wouldn’t shoot them down for taking on external funding.

  • stickhandle

    I would like to know upfront what themes and plug-ins play nice in the wpengine sandbox?

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

      For now we’re allowing essentially all plugins with a few small exceptions. Over time that might have to change depending on the load. (For example the mint plugin is a resource hog.)

      If there’s any specific questions about that you can ask support.

  • http://www.marketing.fm Eric Friedman

    Congrats on the launch! Looks like a very promising offering for the right price. The other hosting co’s look at WP as a secondary offering and its not worth the hassle. This is great to know about.

  • http://www.solobizcoach.com Fred

    This sounds like a great real life case study Jason. I look forward to watching WP Engine grow.

  • http://www.loopycode.com Edan Maor

    WPEngine is a great idea. When I was setting up my blog, I looked around a lot for *good* WordPress hosting, and didn’t find anything worth paying for. I ended up self-hosting, which has advantages, but meant that it took me a lot longer to get started.

    I do hope that, in a future blog post, you’ll talk about why you chose this product. I’ve tried my hand at a few ventures, and I’m still not sure how to pick a product with good potential. Of course, maybe you just tried several things before this “success”, but that would be interesting to hear about as well.

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

      I promise to write about how I selected the product and how I vetted the idea.

      In fact I had another idea which I vetted and discarded! So there’s a long story there.

  • http://www.bidsketch.com Ruben

    I love this experiment! While it’s obvious that you’re starting with an advantage that most of us don’t have, it doesn’t guarantee success. Especially at the level that you’re talking about.

    The early reactions to this remind me of when Eric Sink started Winnable Solitaire:
    ————
    “Reactions to my Winnable Solitaire experiment were mostly positive, but several people claimed my experiment was “unfair” or “invalid”. In a nutshell, they argued that because I am already “famous” for my writings about the business of software, I have an advantage that is not available to my readers. My experiment is therefore meaningless because I did not duplicate the conditions a regular person would be facing when trying to launch their own micro-ISV.”
    ————
    http://www.ericsink.com/bos/First_MicroISV_Report.html

    We remember what ended up happening with his product in the end. Of course, there are differences in your approach and I doubt we’ll have a repeat of that situation here; just wanted to point out that having a (seemingly) unfair advantage isn’t everything.

  • http://twitter.com/rahulgchaudhary Rahul Chaudhary

    WPEngine is a fantastic idea. I would be curious to know who are you targeting as your customers and how did you decide about it, especially given the price point you have?

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

      Great questions, which I’ll answer in a future blog post because I’d also like to describe how we got there.

      But it’s not newbies who don’t pay for stuff!

  • http://worklogassistant.com Sohail

    If your main thing is security, it’s sad, but that is good enough. I only run one minor wordpress site and I HATE whenever wordpress comes out with a security alert and I have to scramble to update it.

    But what’s the main pitch over wordpress.com premium/VIP hosting?

    • http://worklogassistant.com Sohail

      AHHH! STAGING!!!! A FEATURE I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR AND NO ONE PROVIDES!!!

      SOLD.

      • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

        Haha, there you go!

        P.S. Also VIP starts at $500/mo so our $50/mo plan is obviously better when you’re not CNN.com.

  • Jodo Kast

    How does your service differentiate between the other 100s of WordPress hosts?

    I can’t seem to find any information about that…

  • http://www.diotalevi.com Filippo Diotalevi

    I’m looking forward to read about your experience. In particular
    – how you selected the idea
    – how you chose the price point
    – how you found the first 50 customers

  • http://www.checkbox.com Carolyn Craven

    First of all, I think a lot of people are being overly critical about the fact that this isn’t a “real” start-up. As someone who has been involved in several entrepreneurial ventures, one success does not always lead to another. Sure, lessons and contacts can be taken with you, but each adventure brings its own challenges and hardships.

    As far as the site, my immediate reaction was that it doesn’t exude the personality that you so often write about in your blogs. We’re currently working on re-designing our site and I’m taking advice from many of your blogs into account by trying to make sure the personalities and strengths of our team come through on the page. I think there’s more work to be done on wpengine in that regard.

    Best of luck to you!

  • http://www.ohashi.info Kevin Ohashi

    I think it’s awesome seeing you try again and nutting up as it were. It’s really easy to talk (or write) but drinking your own kool aid and doing it again takes some ambition. Many of us would rather sit back, consult and make excuses. Look forward to more great posts from you and I hope some new insights come along the way.

  • http://austintechgeeks.com Ricardo Sanchez

    I am glad you are going to be sharing details about how WPEngine was born and how you plan on keeping it growing.

    I would like to know if you guys are planning on creating an affiliate program and sponsoring other startup sites/blogs by offering free or discounted hosting in place of an ad or a message such as “Powered by WPEngine”? I was looking for information on this when I wrote about it a while ago.

    I am looking forward for future blog posts about all the decisions that were made to make this company happen, it will be very useful for all of us trying to build successful companies.

  • http://susops.blogspot.com/ Maintenance Man

    Umm strange choice of title. Yeah I get you are using cliches. But nut up sounds like you want to shoot your load. Not the picture I want to see when thinking about WordPress hosting or starting up a company. Just saying.

    • http://flavors.me/juliegomoll Julie Gomoll

      Maintenance Man – I agree, strange choice of title. I actually thought the article was going to be about the preponderance of testosterone-drenched metaphors in the business world, LOL.

  • http://www.sachagreif.com Sacha

    I think it’s going to be interesting seeing how this evolves. But given how much exposure and experience you have, I’d have expected something a little better design-wise.

    The site looks dated and not very profesional, as if it was put together in a few days (maybe this was the case?). Maybe it’s because I’m a designer myself, but this turns me off from giving you my business.

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

      Yup, it was put together hastily. You’re right, but all my companies have had far worse design and did great; then again this is a company more likely to be interesting to designers!

      Any constructive criticism?

      • http://www.sachagreif.com Sacha

        It’s hard to pinpoint the problem exactly, it’s just that a lot of design choices (starting with that plain gray background) communicate that the designer didn’t spend much time and effort on them. Basically they’re “by default” choices, they don’t say much about your service or brand.

        If you were short on time, I think better options would’ve been to:
        A) use a pre-made template like this one http://themeforest.net/item/c3-clean-classy-corporate-wp/106021
        B) concentrate your efforts on a single landing page, but take the time to make it attractive (like http://www.rdio.com/ ).

  • http://www.iheartpgh.com Lindsay

    Congrats on the new business and thanks for a great blog – your post have been really helpful – I was just telling a friend about the one on virtual assistants.
    I have a question about WPengine – why no page named pricing? was this intentional? I have been working on another project and we have been debating on a “pricing and plans” page – I was surprised that I had to click sign up to find your pricing page. Just wondering why you set it up this way.

  • Anthony

    Does WP multisite work with this?

    I’ve done a few sites from friends and I’d love to not have to worry about security etc. for them – However if it’s $50/piece/month I probably cant stretch that far.

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

      Yes it supports MU with one installation.

  • http://corporatepreneur.com Dale

    So Jason, is the thought that this service makes the 5 minute installation truly 5 minutes? I just started trying my hand at WordPress and the first thing I noticed was I had to pick a hosting site and the 5 min installation took a couple hours of troubleshooting.

    One piece of feedback… it’s hard to find the prices, didn’t figure it was under “sign-up.” One pet peeve of mine is businesses that don’t show you the price. :)

  • Aaron Farr

    This looks really useful. I can’t wait to see how it progresses.
    I could see me needing this in the future. Best of luck.

  • http://www.readysetstartup.com Susan Jones

    I think all the comments about “you have an unfair advantage” and “this isn’t a real startup” are ridiculous.

    You can learn so much more from watching an experienced entrepreneur build a business, because they do it smarter, faster and with less mistakes than they did the first time.

    And rarely do experienced entrepreneurs share their journey. So thank you Jason for your generosity.

    On another note, I think maybe the way you pitched the post didn’t do your intention justice. I don’t think what you are doing has anything to do with sorting the boys from the men (especially if you are female! :) but more about sharing your ongoing journey with us. You don’t need to prove anything.

  • Pingback: The Best Exit Strategy is to Not Have One « 10,000 Startup Hours – David Cummings

  • Cat

    I’m in your target market because my WordPress sites are a big part of my business. One of my WP sites is a membership site that people pay to access, which makes me obsess about performance and freak when the site goes down. A couple of selling points or possibly neglected selling points for WP Engine:

    Staging is very appealing, especially after I just spent a lot of time figuring out how to create a local version of the membership site so I could overhaul the theme.

    I didn’t see reassurances about support. I like being able to call a human being when my site slows and the people who pay to access it complain. I currently pay $65/month for 3 WordPress sites, 2 regular sites, and immediate access to a human being on the phone. It wasn’t clear to me from your site whether I’d get a human or it’s a ticket system or what.

    On the home page, the “Read More” links suggest that they’ll take you to a specific bit of detail, but they don’t. For example, I thought that clicking “Read More” under the blurb about staging would bring me directly to more info about staging. Instead all links appear to go to the same list of features, and you have to scroll to find what you expected to see. (And the “Read More” page doesn’t have any detail about the “Expert Team” that’s suggested on the home page.)

    Testimonials are, of course, helpful. Especially testimonials about support!

  • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

    Awesome Jason!

    Been admiring your work from afar and also been looking for someone to prove the market for a viable WordPress-specific hosting company. I think your entry into the market will make it appear viable for more and a very profitable cottage industry will emerge. BTW, would love your comments here:

    http://wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/266/

    Does this also mean you are now finally taking customers? I’ve actually got lots of questions because I’m knee deep in working with clients who are view WordPress as a strategic platform vs. just as a place to host their blog.

    One thing I see that you don’t offer is a consultant package for those who need the flexibility to spawn and run a reasonable number of low traffic domains especially for client sites during the development phase, and then turn them over to you as a customer once the site is launched (I don’t personally want to be front line support for 24/7 hosting issues.) My current webhost supports this model brilliantly for $20/month and I’d be willing to move to paying $50/month if I could still do the same.

    But my own hosting costs are an expense that is not generated by a direct income offset so it is hard to justify a lot of money for hosting. What’s more I don’t want to recommend a webhost that I’m not intimately familiar with using myself so if I’m not able to justify the expense of using WPEngine.com for myself I’ll be a lot less likely to recommend clients use it unless we can’t find another viable alternative. Said another way, help me help you make money. Maybe I’m unique but I’ll bet there are a huge number of WordPress consultants who would prefer to operate in almost exactly the same way. If you are open to learning about it maybe even pivoting a bit I’d love to chat via phone about it.

    Also, as for those who complain you have an unfair advantage, yes, but many a fool can start with every advantage and fail because they execute poorly. I think what you’ve shown in the past is your ability to execute and I for one look forward to reading and even being a part of your execution of WPEngine.com.

    Anyway, looking forward to your success.

    -Mike

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

      We do offer a consultant’s package. Send an email to howdy@wpengine.com to discuss that and the other questions you alluded to.

  • Karl

    Nut up or shut up? What is the scary part that requires nuts? You’re already rich, there’s nothing to lose. Why fabricate a scary situation?

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

      Because if it fails, there goes the untarnished reputation.

      Besides, all startups require nuts.

  • http://www.david-soul.com David

    Go Jason! Striking out again is brilliant and I just had to express my support. I have filed your professional WordPress service under my list of ‘services to mention given the opportunity’.

    To all those people claiming Jason has unfair advantage because of his blogging reach, I say that I’d rather learn about a slightly-biased success than an academicly-correct failure. Should he not be able to use his experience either?

    Play to your strengths or fail hard.

  • http://www.snyderdomain.com/ Michael Snyder

    Geesh, what’s with backlash? A guy offers complete transparency and the folks are complaining about the size of your mailing list. Unfair advantage? There is no such thing. I for one will following along and wish you success. What a great opportunity to learn.

    However, I do have doubts. The price point for average Joe is high ($600 a year for what amounts to one unique feature, staging). The staging feature likely will not be unique for long, then what? Also, I saw a lot of repeat questions around price point and feature set, and the answers didn’t really add much for clarification (both here and another thread where your partner was answering questions). There is a communication gap, you shouldn’t have to clarify feature set via a comments thread. It should be obvious to someone why they would or would not want to pay. Right now it’s more of a “what am I missing, this seems like something someone should want” thought.

    You’ve done this before, and you have given this significantly more thought than anyone on this thread. You clearly know what you are doing. I am looking forward to future posts on WPengine to see how it started and plays-out.

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

      Thanks for the support!

      To answer your question about feature set, you might be missing the message if you’re not experiencing the pain yourself. Staging is actually not the biggest feature!

      WordPress is famously insecure with sites both small and (more infamously) big hacked every day. So “secure” is, for anyone whose been hacked or a WP consultant a huge feature.

      Sane is true with page load speed and scalability with traffic. My blog used to crash when I got on hackernews — so did Ash Maurya before we switched to us. Many of our customers have this story.

      Is all of this copy-able? You bet. It’s not trivial, but it’s not impossible. How will we cope?

      I hope to say over the next few months, but it’s almost certainly not the quantity of features!

      Thanks again!

      • Anonymous

        I didn’t say staging was the biggest feature, just that it was your unique feature. WordPress certainly has the issues you describe, but they are also solvable for damn near free. However, I now see that you don’t think that is the case.

        Are you saying other sites that offer similar services, sans staging, don’t offer sufficient support regarding security and load handling capabilities? Is this something a can’t do myself? Well, you are probably right, and I believe you, but I am not getting that from your feature page.

        Or, another thought, if WP sucks so much that I need WPEngine to host it, then maybe I need another platform. (Of course, I am being rhetorical, I love WP.)

        Side note, I like the way you use terms in your writing and presentations that other shy away from (e.g., bullshit, sucks, crap, etc.). When used properly they add humor or highlight a point. But when used incorrectly (e.g. “slap your dick on the table”) it just leaves a gross visual. I am positive you thought twice about using that cliche, maybe next time think thrice!

        • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

          Staging is also free — people snapshot databases and rsync files all the time.

          Of course you (meaning: someone technical enough to set up servers, understand Linux, Apache, nginx, mysql, memcached, mod_security, etc) can do this yourself! It’s open source. It’s a matter of time and expertise.

          Of course 99% or more of wordpress bloggers — even the savvy ones — lack the skill or time or inclination, and think it’s great that someone else can worry about that for them.

          You’re right — if you aren’t experiencing that pain and never have before, you won’t find our service compelling. That’s ok!

          I used to run my own mail server. Then I got hacked. Then i paid for someone else to run it, and now I get it for free at google. I’ll never do that again.

          This is the same thing.

  • Pingback: The Start-Up | Core

  • http://www.deepshiftlabs.com/dev_blog/?lang=en-us Igor Kryltsov

    1. Would be nice to have nice Print Article and Print Comments buttons here and in your new product for your customers. Never have time to read blogs from a screen. Smart way (and I am sure a smart bear wants only this approach to everything) would be to strip ALL images from both article (t-short photo) and comments (avatars) which are to decorate an article. If it is a diagram or a screenshot article talks about it will be included into printed version. This can be achieved easily by adding special class to image tags. For now I copy-paste comments, format and print it in Word if I want to read it a way a like it.

    2. I understand reasons you did not start blogging before product was released but are you planning to give us a retrospect (while you still remember details) how it all started? Everything about this venture BEFORE this post was published. How you met co-founders, why this idea, what did you do, how long did it take etc.

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

      Understood on the printing.

      And yes, I will talk about the beginning! Promise.

      • http://pfoley.com Patrick Foley

        Actually, I would gladly pay for a Kindle version of your blog (.99 at least :P) … I would rather read it (pre-comments at least) away from the computer. Any chance of that?

        Any chance of slurping the whole blog up to a certain date into a nicely formatted Kindle book?

        Thanks,

        P

  • http://www.successfulsoftware.net Andy Brice

    Looks like a good idea, well executed. I will be interested to see how it works out. I don’t think the advantages are enough to coax me away from the warm and familiar embrace of wordpress.com though (yet).

  • http://www.thedailymba.com Jarie Bolander

    Interesting idea. This looks like it’s geared toward user or developer that is comfortable modifying there code base. As part of your services, will you also be offering custom theme management & development for the non-power users?

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason

      Sure we can do professional services too. It will probably end up being a small but profitable piece of the company.

  • http://premium.wpmudev.org James Farmer

    Heh, you have some nice articles here.

    a. the 6 sales point are out of whack on FF
    b. it’s way too expensive, soz, and you’ve got decent competition too http://page.ly/