Tag: Web Hosting

High Tech on Tap at Pearl with Peer 1

Founder of Silicon Hills News

Photos by Laura Lorek

Photos by Laura Lorek

In a place once known for making beer, something new is brewing.

And it’s high tech.

Peer 1 now has one of the hippest tech sites in town.

The web hosting company recently moved into 25,000 square feet of space at Pearl, a 22-acre historic downtown development, dating to 1881, which once served as the bustling Pearl Brewery.

Now Pearl features shops, restaurants, bars, offices and apartments and Peer 1, a global web hosting company with more than 100 employees.

“We’ve created a live, work, play environment for employees,” said Robert Miggins, Peer 1’s senior vice president of business development.

That movement appeals, particularly, to younger workers who like to bike or walk to work and home and enjoy the coffee houses, bars and restaurants nearby.

Peer 1’s new workplace features an open workspace with twenty foot ceilings, chalk walls, whiteboards and an even a van that once served as a Pearl beer delivery vehicle that has been refurbished into a meeting room.

Peer 1 also installed a full kitchen so its employees can make breakfast tacos, lunch, dinner and other snacks. The former hair dying station for the former tenant, Aveda Institute, now serves as a bar. And Peer 1 installed a cantina lunch area decorated with Papel picado emblazoned with the Peer 1 logo hanging from the ceiling, booths, and colorful festive tables with red, green and silver metal chairs. The new headquarters also has a game room for employees to blow off steam playing Ping-Pong, foosball and Pac-Mac. Peer 1 also established a workout room with weight machines, treadmills, elliptical trainers and locker rooms with showers.

IMG_2797The garage from the Pearl Brewery dates back to 1939. The building retains its historic features but it has been updated for a hip, young tech workforce.

The Peer 1 office has conference meeting rooms named after Texas brewed beers like Alamo, Santo, Lone Star and Pearl.

Pearl is at total capacity right now for office space, said Elizabeth Fauerso, its chief marketing officer.

In addition to Peer 1, San Antonio Area Foundation, Bank of San Antonio, CE Group and the KGBTexas have all set up shop there, she said.

“It’s a creative environment,” she said. “Peer 1 is the only explicitly tech company here.”

Peer 1’s knowledge-based workforce and clean technology industry and its focus on sustainability make it a good fit for Pearl, she said.

“We’re very excited to have Peer 1 here,” she said. “The technology industry is a fast growing industry in San Antonio.”

Peer 1 has been on the Northeast side of San Antonio for six years, Miggins said.

“We’ve gradually been growing our staff and building up our data center,” he said. “The data center is not quite full, but the office part of it – we were bursting at the seams. We began an office search in earnest a little over a year ago.”

Peer 1 narrowed its search down to three locations, none of which were at Pearl, Miggins said.
“They were one story buildings kind of in the middle of nowhere,” he said. “Nothing inspiring.”

Then Dax Moreno, director of North American sales, went to Peer 1 UK in South Hampton to visit its three-story bar and restaurant and reimagined it into a tech office.

“We got inspired to look for a more creative workspace,” Moreno said.

At that time, the Aveda Institute announced they were leaving Pearl. The space opened up and Peer 1 snatched it up. They worked with Texas Wilson to outfit the office in funky and functional Steelcase furniture. They even created a space which can be used for public meetings and conferences when a garage door is lowered to shut if off from the rest of the office.

“It just worked out really, really well,” Miggins said. “Several of our people have moved apartments and now walk to work.”

Peer 1 is also hiring developers, sales people, leadership, managers, supply chain, operations folks, Miggins said.

“We are hiring across the entire company,” he said.

The new location also raises the profile of Peer 1 in San Antonio. Many people know about Rackspace Hosting, a larger web hosting company here but they may not have heard of Peer 1.

Yet Peer 1 has its roots at Rackspace.

Richard Yoo, one of the founders of Rackspace, launched ServerBeach in 2002 in downtown San Antonio at what now serves at the CityNap building. They flew a pirate’s flag from the top of the building to signify its break from the main company. He grew the business within Rackspace and the company sold it in 2004 to Peer 1 for $7.5 million. Miggins stayed with Peer 1 and has been heading up its local operations ever since. Peer 1 competes with Rackspace for hosting customers, but it sees its competitive advantage as being a smaller organization.

“We’re smaller,” said Moreno. “We’re more nimble, more flexible.

Peer 1, based in Vancouver, Canada, provides web hosting at 19 data centers in four countries. It has more than $200 million in annual revenue and 500 employees worldwide.

“Our story is about offering customers lots of choice,’’ Miggins said. Its customers include WordPress.com, Virgin Gaming, Plenty of Fish, Softpedia and Wooz World.

Moreno also joined Peer 1 from Rackspace. He likes the size of the organization and it’s ability to react quickly to its customers and the marketplace.

“We don’t want to be the biggest, we want to be the best,’’ Moreno said.

IMG_2801Peer 1 has struggled in the past with creating awareness about its business in San Antonio, Miggins said. But now the site at Pearl has already increased its visibility in the community and it’s attracting employees from outside the city too.

“This will increase the pace of new hires here,” Miggins said. “We can now attract people who are drawn by the lifestyle.”

San Antonio recently tied with New Orleans for the number one city gaining the most college graduates, according to a Forbes article. It reported San Antonio attracted 76,331 college graduates between 2007 and 2012 for a percentage gain of 20 percent.

Rackspace Hosting Expands in Austin

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Rackspace’s New Offices

Cloud computing company Rackspace Hosting Inc. has a new home in Austin.
The company moved into an 87,000 square foot location next to I-35 in north Austin in October. The offices can accommodate more than 500 employees. The web hosting company currently has 400 people – adding around 100 employees per year for the last two years. Rackspace wants to hire 50 more employees this year.
Rackspace, founded in 1998 in San Antonio, has more than 3,000 employees in San Antonio at its headquarters in the former Windsor Park Mall on Walzem Road. The company also has an office in San Francisco. Rackspace reported revenue of $1.24 billion last year and net income of more than $100 million. The company has a market cap of more than $9 billion.
Rackspace attributes the steady growth over the last few years to its service-oriented business model of web hosting.

Bill Blackstone, Austin Community Outreach Leader for Rackspace

“When you call you get a human, not an IVR,” says Rackspace Community Affairs Leader Bill Blackstone. “You get routed to your team that you know by name… literally in five rings.”
According to Blackstone, the support teams are fully authorized to make important decisions and resolve a customer’s issue without having to check with a supervisor or another department. They are also available at any hour. It all fits into Rackspace’s often touted motto of providing “fanatical support”.
But the support aspect is only one of the four pillars of service to which Rackspace attributes its success. The other three: The security found in physical dedicated servers, the scalability found in virtual servers, and the ability to combine physical and virtual servers to fit a client’s need.
“The combination of those is something that doesn’t exist elsewhere,” says Blackstone.
Rackspace also has an advantage in being the co-founder of the new standard-setting cloud computing platform called OpenStack. Developed in partnership with NASA, Rackspace helped set the standards for OpenStack that are now used industry-wide. The new technology is open-source and available for anyone to use. As a result, over 850 organizations are currently working to further improve the technology. While this means that any competitor can provide OpenStack service, Rackspace hopes to retain the lion’s share of potential new customers due to their reputation for support and their status as a leader in the OpenStack technology.
“We still believe that at the end of the day it’s not necessarily the actual technology, but the service that makes the difference,” said Blackstone.

Rackspace prides itself on “Fanatical Support”

National economic pressures have also impacted Rackspace’s success. While the ongoing recession has stunted Rackspace’s national growth to 30 percent a year – it was originally projected at more than 50 percent – it has caused a higher interest in the profitability of cloud computing. Austin Site leader Max Thoene says that much of the market had been resistant to the concept of cloud computing before the recession.
“The folks that were established that were doing this were like, ‘No, I like my physical server,’ even though it was only 6 percent utilized,” says Thoene.
But as the recession hit, companies feeling the pinch were forced to take a look at cloud services for the cost savings that they desperately needed. As a result, many made the big leap to cloud technology within the last few years. Thoene sees it as a glass-half-full situation.
“It really served as a vehicle to get people to kick the tires and look under the hood of cloud a lot more closely than they would have (otherwise),” said Thoene.
In fact, the International Data Corporation (IDC) — a market research firm — has released an often quoted prediction that “80 percent of new commercial enterprise apps will be deployed on cloud platforms” by the end of 2012 – a major swing for the hosting industry since the 2008 recession. Rackspace is second only to

Rackspace Austin Site leader Max Thoene

Amazon in the cloud computing industry and is sure to benefit from new cloud-using companies.
Rackspace Hosting is also enjoying the advantages of an Austin location. Just one of many tech companies expanding in Austin, Rackspace is experiencing rapid growth due to the city’s educated population and its popularity as a place to relocate talent. The local tech scene provides an ideal recruitment spot for Rackspace.
“We find that there is a great cross section in Austin that has both the technical skill and the service leadership type of skill set that we are looking for,” says Thoene.
According to Austin Technology Council President Julie Huls, this is a common trend for tech companies in the Austin area.
“Companies the size of Rackspace — which are growing at the same pace — are attracted to Austin for its culture. I think we have ample talent as it relates to certain skill sets. We have a very creative workforce here,” says Huls.
In fact, Rackspace enjoys a special symbiotic relationship with the hotbed of tech start-ups in Austin. It works with both the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Austin Technology Council to invest in new start-ups. They also sponsor fairs – such as Chamberfest – and provide mentoring for new companies trying to get off the ground. In turn, many of those companies can then take advantage of potential cost savings with Rackspace’s cloud services – gaining the company more customers in the long run.
Thoene sees Rackspace’s tech community involvement as something that benefits both the company and the City of Austin by creating a healthy business environment.
“It’s a win-win,” says Thoene. “It’s a win for Rackspace because we get great people and it’s a win for Austin because we keep people employed.”

Story and photos by Andrew Moore

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