Tag: Wordpress hosting

WP Engine Opens an Office at Geekdom in San Antonio

Founder of Silicon Hills News

wp_engine_logo_bbWP Engine, founded in 2010 at Capital Factory, has 150 employees in Austin and it’s hiring.

The plucky startup also has another 10 employees in a satellite office in California.

And WP Engine has just opened a San Antonio office at Geekdom, a technology incubator and coworking space.

WP Engine doesn’t want to add people just for the sake of having additional headcount, said April Downing, the company’s Chief Financial Officer.

“That’s why we looked to San Antonio,” she said. “There’s a really good culture fit. “

WP Engine, a managed hosting platform for websites and apps built with WordPress, has more than 20,000 customers. It expects to have up to 20 employees in San Antonio by the end of the year, Downing said. Right now, the company has two offices on the seventh floor of Geekdom’s new headquarters in the historic Rand building, which can hold up to eight people. But as Geekdom builds out the sixth floor and additional floors for larger technology companies, WP Engine expects to expand its operations there.

WP Engine Chief Financial Officer April Downing

WP Engine Chief Financial Officer April Downing

Last summer, WP Engine moved out of Capital Factory and into 15,000 square feet at 504 Lavaca in downtown Austin. At the time, WP Engine had 50 employees; it has tripled in size since then and hired several key executives including Downing. WP Engine also hired Heather Brunner, who became CEO last October. Previously, Brunner served as COO of Bazaar Voice. Jason Cohen, who founded the company with Ben Metcalfe, now serves as Chief Technology Officer.

WP Engine also raised $15 million in venture funding in January, bringing its total investment to $16.2 million. That money has helped fuel the company’s expansion and fast growth.

Last week, WP Engine held a meet and greet recruiting event at the Peal Brewery and more than 50 people attended. The company got some great potential job candidates out of the event, but they also enjoyed meeting community members, Downing said.

“Our event last week was amazing,” Downing said. It proved the company’s decision to move to San Antonio was the right one, she said.

“It was a neat community embrace that we got,” Downing said.

WP Engine has had quite a few transplants from San Antonio who moved up to Austin to work at the company, she said. It also has a few who still commute daily, she said. The San Antonio office will allow those people to work closer to their home. A few people from the Austin office also want to move to San Antonio, she said.

San Antonio reminds Downing, who has lived in Austin for 15 years, of the early days of Austin’s high tech industry.

“There’s a lot of investment being made in San Antonio around technology,” Downing said. “Fifteen years ago that wasn’t the case.”

Rackspace has served as a major catalyst for San Antonio’s technology industry. And it’s producing a lot of technology talent.

WP Engine recently hired former Rackspace Senior Vice President of Marketing, Klee Kleber to serve as its Chief Marketing Officer. And it finds the talent coming out of the Open Cloud Academy and the Linux Ladies program, sponsored by Rackspace, attractive, Downing said.

The Central Texas area is becoming more of a tech region with Austin as the thriving technology hub and San Antonio as the emerging market, Downing said.

“It’s really exciting to see it happening in real time,” she said.

With the fast-paced growth, WP Engine works hard to preserve its company culture, Downing said.

Each week the company hosts a town hall conference call that everybody dials into. During the call, they share everything that has been happening in the company, Downing said.

WP Engine also hosts training sessions called “Full Frontal Nerdity” that are open to everyone and once every four months the company hosts a weeklong gathering, Downing said.

“We do a lot of team building exercises during that week,” she said. “It’s something you have to continue to cultivate.”

WP Engine is moving into Geekdom, where Pressable, formerly known as Zippy Kid, is housed. Vid Luther, Pressable’s CEO and founder, started the company around the same time as WP Engine.

But WP Engine doesn’t see Pressable as a direct competitor. WP Engine focuses more on enterprise businesses and medium sized businesses.

There’s still plenty of room for growth in the industry, Downing said. WordPress powers 22 percent of all Internet sites. If any company got one percent of that business, that would be a pretty big market, Downing said.

Silicon Hills News Contributor Tim Green did this profile of WP Engine last March.

WP Engine Revs Up on WordPress

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Photo courtesy of WPEngine

Photo courtesy of WPEngine

It’s Ticketpalooza Day at WP Engine, the Austin-based company that offers managed hosting services for WordPress-based websites.

About 30 members of the company’s support staff are gathered around two long tables fielding calls from customers having problems with their websites.

The support reps tap on their laptops, lean over to look at a neighbor’s computer screen and offer words of advice. They score prizes, devour company-provided lunch and seriously reduce the number of calls.

The idea of Ticketpalooza is to close out service tickets to customers’ satisfaction as quickly as possible, said Austin Gunter, part of the company’s marketing department.

He said WP Engine’s customers appreciate the draw down on the service queue and the staff likes the collaborative yet competitive process. “We’re all just having a lot of fun with this.”

Customer service is an essential part of what WP Engine offers. Its services help its customers’ websites run faster, more reliably, more securely and with the capability to grow.

Heather Brunner, CEO of WP Engine

Heather Brunner, CEO of WP Engine

In 2013, WP Engine experienced what CEO Heather Brunner called hyper growth of its own, saying that revenue and the number of customers and employees all tripled.

Now, with a $15 million venture investment and a complete executive team in place, the company, which has offices in Austin and San Francisco, is geared to keep growing.

The investment, announced in January, came from North Bridge Venture Partners, which has offices in Waltham, Mass., and Palo Alto, Calif. A previous round of $1.2 million in 2011 came from Silverton Partners and several angel investors.

The WordPress universe offers rooms for growth.

WordPress started as an open source blogging tool and has grown into a content management system that powers about 20 percent of websites and 20 percent of the biggest websites.

Brunner said WP Engine has 14,000 customers, ranging from individuals and small businesses to bigger clients such as the Country Music Association, HTC, Williams-Sonoma and the Bonnaroo music festival. The company’s customers run more than 120,000 different sites with about 40 million unique visitors a day.

Entrepreneur Jason Cohen was responding to the frustrating performance of his WordPress blog when he developed the technology on which WP Engine is based in 2010.

The foundation of WP Engine’s technology is the cloud-based infrastructure that started with Cohen’s coding.

“Now with 3 ½ years under our belt we’ve been able to architect our cloud infrastructure for massive scale and traffic and the ability to scale up and scale down,” Brunner said. “We have unique IP that runs the cloud infrastructure for our business and WordPress.”

Next is a layer of software that provides security, speed and other functions. “We’ve created a whole caching technology that is unique to the market,” she said. “There are specific innovations that are unique to us.”

A third layer includes the customer interface, user tools and a dashboard that allows the customer to make websites change and updates easily and quickly.

The top layer is WP Engine’s support team, which Brunner said is drawn from the WordPress ecosystem, developers and consultants. The support team interacts with customers over the phone, through Twitter and chat.

“We have a tremendous amount of expertise in our support customer-facing operation to help whether they have a proactive question or have an issue they need help with,” she said.

In its interactions with customers, WP Engine can track what’s working and what’s not and make changes.

“We’ve seen a lot of changes to their service over the years,” said Brandon Dove at Pixel Jar, a WordPress development company that uses WP Engine. “They’ve added developer-facing things like git integration for deployment, backup postings with an instant restore feature and built-in staging servers for active development cycles.”

Dove said he appreciates WP Engine’s honesty and transparency when there’s a problem.

“No host can offer you 100 percent up time,” he said. “Knowing that you can trust your host to have your best interests in mind when something goes wrong is crucial. They have an SLA (service-level agreement) in place that keeps them accountable for downtime and other support-related issues.”

Brunner said the company will use part of the $15 million investment to continue to improve and expand its technology and services. That includes adding self-service functions to make it easier for the customers to help themselves, she said.

“That’s a big, big part of our focus for 2014, extending the market leadership we have and continue to invest in things that mean an even better experience for our customers,” she said.

Brunner became affiliated with WP Engine in early 2013 as a board member. She became COO in the spring and CEO in October, all of which were planned moves. She had been COO of BazaarVoice before joining WP Engine.

Other members of the executive staff who came aboard in 2013 are April Downing, chief financial officer; Matt Schatz, vice president of sales; and Tina Dobie, vice president of customer experience. Cohen, who founded the company with Ben Metcalfe, shifted from CEO to chief technology officer.

The company has three basic pricing plans, from $29 per month to $249 per month. Beyond that is a premium level, in which pricing is based on factors including the number of sites, the amount of traffic and number of functions.

“We want to have a really fair exchange for value,” Brunner said. “So we’re delivering this innovation, we’re delivering fantastic expertise, we’re creating an incredible experience. That’s our aspiration for our customers for them to say, “This just works.” And for that we want to give a fair exchange. That’s what we’re looking to create.”

WP Engine is one of several companies providing managed hosting for WordPress websites. Competitors include San Antonio-based Pressable.

WP Engine does well in several comparisons online. Cohen and Pressable founder Vid Luther noted similarities and differences on Quora.

“We definitely have competition, it’s a dynamic space,” Brunner said. “But there’s no one single company we’re going head to head against.”

Brunner said the company practices what it preachers and uses WordPress for its website. It refreshed its brand and rolled out a new website in October.

“It’s all built on WordPress and shows you the best of how you would use WordPress to build a corporate website, get your message out as well as use thought leadership within your website such as blogs for content.”

For WP Engine, that’s the ticket.

ZippyKid Relaunches as Pressable

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 11.52.45 AMPressable is the new startup at Geekdom in San Antonio.
But it’s actually one of the oldest startups at the downtown co-working space.
Vid Luther launched ZippyKid in 2010 as a managed WordPress hosting site.
On Thursday, the company rebranded as Pressable.
With the new name, Luther, CEO, plans to align the company’s brand with its growth.
Last summer, Luther bought the domain name and Twitter handle for Pressable. He wanted the name to reflect the company’s focus on WordPress hosting for Fortune 100 companies, startups, nonprofit agencies and professional organizations worldwide.
The company is also introducing a new pricing model. It currently hosts one website for $25 a month. Starting today, customers can host up to five websites for $25 a month.
“We commoditized WordPress hosting and made it available at a price that is more accessible,” Luther said. Pressable seeks to simplify publishing online for WordPress users.
Today, an estimated one in five websites on the Internet runs on WordPress.
The rebranding is the first step in expanding Pressable’s business, Luther said. Other changes will be unveiled early next year, he said.
Pressable is privately held company and has nine employees. It has raised $800,000 in seed stage funding from Rackspace cofounders Pat Condon, Dirk Elmendorf, Automattic, the company behind WordPresscom, DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg, Slicehost founder Jason Seats and 500 Startups.
Pressable with 1,200 customers is profitable and has revenue of more than $1 million a year, Luther said.

Geekdom is a sponsor of Silicon Hills News

ZippyKid Will Pay $3,000 & New iPhone for Employee Referral

Everyone knows by now that tech talent is in short supply nationwide.
So ZippyKid, a fast growing WordPress hosting site, is offering $3,000 and the latest iPhone to someone who refers the winning candidate for its job opening.
The company, based at Geekdom in San Antonio, is hiring a senior systems administrator. ZippyKid offers managed WordPress hosting to WordPress content publishers who don’t want to hassel with the technology behind their sites. It offers fast loading and top level security and it specializes in providing services to small businesses, a-list bloggers and entrepreneurs.
“We’re looking for someone who will help build one of the finest data center/ops teams in the world,” according to the job posting. “This means the ability to identify and hire top notch team members, the ability to identify gaps in the architecture and help us work towards closing those gaps.”
Vid Luther founded ZippyKid in 2009. The company recently raised angel funding from the founders of Rackspace, Slicehost and 500 Startups.
“ZippyKid has grown over the past two years by word of mouth,” Luther wrote in a post on Facebook. “Everyone we’ve hired, and every customer that has switched to has, has done it because a friend of a friend told them about us. So, with that in mind, we want to make the pot sweeter for this latest hire. This is a very important job at ZippyKid, and we want to reward you for telling your friends (who qualify) about it.”
To get the $3,000 referral bonus, the person hired for the job must meet certain goals for the first three months in the job. The total reward including the latest iPhone is worth $3,650.
To apply for the job, please visit this site and fill out the application. Make sure to say who sent you so they can get the referral bonus!

Today’s startup profile focuses on ZippyKid

Vid Luther started ZippyKid, which hosts and services WordPress websites.
Starting at $20 a month, San Antonio-based Zippykid provides fast and secure hosting on Rackspace’s servers.

Ten Questions with Luther, founder and CEO of ZippyKid.

1Q. Where did you come up with the idea for Zippy Kid?

A. Basically the idea came about because I was getting a lot of customers calling me and asking for help.

2Q, When did Zippy Kid launch?

A. The first version of ZippyKid launched in 2009. It wasn’t called that. It was called PSD2Live

3Q. Where did you get the ZippyKid name?

A. Wes Wilson runs a site called Brandstack and he put up weekly posts of the top domain names on the site. I saw ZippyKid and it reminded me of a customer comment. They said “my website is so zippy now I love it.” So the name seemed perfect.

4Q. What does ZippyKid do?

A. We are a WordPress hosting company. We only do WordPress as a content management system targeting 60 million users. We make sure your website is stable. We make sure your website doesn’t get hacked. People want a secure website. Lately, the number one thing people come to us for is speed. If your page loads slower than two seconds, you’re going to lose customers.

5Q. How many customers does ZippyKid have?

A. We have 1,000 from all over. We’re getting a lot customers from Europe. We’ve got customers from Australia and India. (Only 20 customers are from the local area)

6Q. Who are your customers?

A. We’ve got large enterprise customers and small individual bloggers and journalists. Virginia Tech is a customer. Anyone who is making money on the Internet they host with us. They don’t want to spend time managing their server.

7Q. What is your relationship with Rackspace?

A. We’re a partner with Rackspace. We handle all the server stuff for you. We do everything for you so that you can focus on your content rather than your server. Our slogan is “You post, we host.”

8Q. Who is your competition?

A. WPEngine in Austin and some others. But overall, Godaddy is my competition.

9Q. How do you market ZippyKid?

A. Our number one customer driver is actually word of mouth. We’re doing a lot of search engine optimization for when people are looking for WordPress solutions. We’re like a drug, people try us out and they get hooked. They can’t get enough.

10Q. What was the hardest part about launching ZippyKid?

A. Deciding to do it. Deciding to stop being passive aggressive and just go ahead and do it. If it fails, it fails.

ZippyKid has partnerships with other companies like Torbit. For $60 a month plan, ZippyKid’s customers get Torbit included. It also has partnerships with GravityForms, Woothemes and Backup Buddy. ZippyKid has six employees and is based at Geekdom. Luther applied for the TechStars Cloud program. That’s John Gray, ZippyKid’s Chief Technology Officer, sitting across from Luther.

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