specialness for cash

Oh look, they’re officially offering hosting. It costs lots of money, of course ($500 setup + $250 per month), but then, you are paying for immunity from slashdotting. If you’re promising immunity from slashdotting to people who need immunity from slashdotting you can charge whatever you like.

I very much doubt that these sites are running off the same alpha code as we are, though. I mean, features such as the tabbed editor are getting rolled in more or less as soon as the idea’s been raised on the hackers list, and I personally wouldn’t charge people that kind of cash to be beta testers. Even if they were getting immunity from slashdotting. And even if they were really happy at being among the first to get the new shiny features. If you’re paying a premium for reliability, that applies to software as well as uptime. Like, today I can’t log in without turning off Norton, even though I swear I haven’t touched the settings. And, custom Pool headers don’t work properly, which is possibly why nobody has posted any examples. I accept this from a service I’m getting for free, but if I were paying $3000 a year I would not be anything like as forgiving.

I told myself I would do my Page of Things when they announced the VIP program, so I had better go and work on that now.

11 Comments »

  1. Sean said

    Wow, talk about going from learning to cross the street, to stepping on the moon. Does Automattic even have the kinds of people that can handle this kind of responsibility?
    I’m sure they are paying some other company to handle the servers and such, but they are stepping out of the kiddie pool, and into the Amazon.
    I’m not real sure they are mature enough to handle this kind of responsibility.

  2. Matt said

    “I’m sure they are paying some other company to handle the servers and such, but they are stepping out of the kiddie pool, and into the Amazon.”

    We do all our own server administration, and within a month or so we’ll have over a 100 across 4 datacenters.

    The page wasn’t clear enough that even if someone can pay for VIP hosting they may not be a good fit, so I’ve updated it.

  3. A Powered by WordPress.com logo on your site – even after paying?

  4. Considering that you’re getting the power of 100 suns (Dells?) behind your site, $250 isn’t that bad. You’d pay at least that for a beefy dedicated server, and quite a bit more a month paying someone like me to maintain it and optimize it.

  5. A Powered by WordPress.com logo on your site – even after paying?

    The extra publicity is just as important as the extra revenue. Take away the linkback and you take away a major reason for them to host your high-traffic, resource-intensive blog🙂

    (I still have my own issues about the wordpress.com link, for reasons stated here. How many visitors are going to head to the news blog post about VIPs before signing up for their free custom-themed, ad & plugin-enabled wordpress.com blog, which they then discover they cannot have until they reach 100 000 hits a month?)

  6. Sean said

    Considering that you’re getting the power of 100 suns (Dells?) behind your site, $250 isn’t that bad.

    I’d say it’s at least twice the going price for dedicated servers that can more than handle a Digging/Slashdotting. But that’s irrelevant.

    I’m just surprised you’re going straight from offering no paid hosting services, to offering “VIP” hosting services at an incredible premium. As a company, you’ve taken no intermediate steps in between. The kind of steps that help Automattic mature as a hosting company, learn from your mistakes, gain valuable insight into the business, etc.

    What you’re doing is tantamount to a small mom and pop restaurant going straight from serving coffee to old ladies, to catering Donald Trump’s wedding. It’s quite a gamble to be sure.

  7. Matt said

    I used to run a small hosting company, I have no interest in that model ever again. It doesn’t scale. If you see this as a financial move, like some people saw the support network, you’re missing the point.

    We weren’t joking about knowing what it takes to scale. Do you think there’s a big WordPress user, from Om to the New York Times to CNET, that we haven’t talked to or worked with?🙂

  8. If you see this as a financial move, like some people saw the support network, you’re missing the point.

    You can see why people think these things are ‘financial moves’, though. There aren’t a whole lot of other visible revenue sources. People come into the .com forums asking ‘how do Automattic make their money without putting ads on the blogs?’ (financial stability is pretty important to some prospective users, because they need to know that the site’s not going to disappear overnight and take their content with it). And we generally have been answering them with some variation on ‘support for business clients’, ‘VIP hosting’, and, of course, ‘venture capital’, because we don’t want to put too much emphasis on the ads you display to non-logged in users (and, to be honest, because we’re mostly logged in we tend to forget they exist).

    Sean overlooks that you’re cherry-picking your VIPs; you may well be catering Donald Trump’s wedding, but you’re a personal friend of his so he’s not going to expect quite as much as he would from more experienced caterers, or get quite as mad if things go wrong.

    Also, being the ‘official’ wordpress host carries an extra cachet for which certain people will be more than happy to pay ‘twice the going rate’, because status is as important to them as immunity from slashdotting. (The fact that it’s a free host for the majority is a bit downmarket, true, but then everyone who matters knows you’re Special because of your custom theme and plugins, so it’s cool.)

  9. me and my friends have been into venture capital investments and so far the income is great.;’-

  10. Ruby Jones said

    Dedicated servers are the best when you want a stable webhost. ,-~

  11. drmike said

    Maybe they should switch over to Typepad’s antispam. I don;t this many false positives with it.🙂

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