Powers Unfiltered

An entrepreneur’s journey into grid computing and partnering with Microsoft, by John Powers

Powers Unfiltered header image 2

Ferdinand Foch Award, August 2006: Matt Heaton

September 2nd, 2006 · No Comments

Today marks the beginning of a new tradition at Powersunfiltered.  Each month (or more likely, whenever I feel like it) I will present the Powersunfiltered Ferdinand Foch Award to an entrepreneur whom I admire for, well… you’ll see. 

Ferdinand Foch, the French general, field marshall, and hero of World War I, issued a famous dispatch from the Marne, which translates (approximately) as:

“My center is giving way, my right is in retreat; situation excellent. I shall attack.”

It is difficult to come up with a more fitting quote to put at the top of the entrepreneur’s day planner every single day.  “Good morning!  Everything still screwed up?  Cool.  We still badly outgunned?  Excellent.  Charge!”

(And for the PC crowd preparing to berate me on my lack of sensitivity to the horrors of war, I provide this convenient link to the definition of the word “analogy.”)

For August 2006, the entrepreneur who embodies this “bring it on” attitude best is Mr. Matt Heaton of Bluehost.com.  I’m Matt’s customer at Bluehost; Digipede CTO Robert Anderson recommended Bluehost as a place to host my blog, and I know better than to debate Robert on such matters.  I don’t know Matt, and have never even corresponded with him — he’s got enough on his mind.  He’s got a new baby (about six weeks old), a growing business, numerous voracious competitors (large and small), puny margins, hardware failures, software failures, and a genuine customer service crisis.

There are lots and lots of value-added goodies that a hosting service can provide to differentiate, and Matt’s been very innovative in providing those; more are in the works.  But in the final analysis, hosting is about reliability — whatever I put online needs to be online, or nothing else matters.  Bluehost has had several outages in July and August.  Matt’s been beset by flakey routers, power failures, Linux bugs, firewall nightmares, and I think a plague of frogs.

Matt’s response?  Expand.

While buying replacement routers and compiling their own Linux kernel and changing out firewall software and generally rebuilding the plane in midair, Bluehost is also acquiring more space, more customers, more equipment, more employees.  Matt keeps his customers in the loop about all these decisions, through his blog and through direct email to customers.  He’s passionate, direct, and he’s this month’s winner of the Powersunfiltered Ferdinand Foch Award. 

I wish him all the best in delivering on his many promises — and in the meantime, keep your damn service up, OK Matt?

[Nominations for future awards are welcome; keep in mind this award is for both attitude and achievement — few would now remember Foch if he had not attacked, but no one would remember the quote if he had lost.  The awards committee is me.  I accept nominations from anybody, but I actually pay attention to nominations of entrepreneurs by other entrepreneurs.  All decisions by the awards committee are capricious, arbitrary, and final.] 

Tags: Entrepreneurship · Startup Life

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment