Today’s interview is special.
I have Terry Kyle, the co-founder and CEO of one of the best hosting companies in the world i.e WPX hosting with us.
Terry Kyle has been many things in his long entrepreneurial journey both offline and online.
However, it’s starting WPX hosting along-with the remarkable initiative of helping sheltered pets with his volunteer work is what drives him.
It’s easy to see that he’s found his calling and is building an International brand with his team and vision.
Let’s hear it from him and learn how he upended a deeply trenched and mostly flawed hosting industry with a far superior solution focusing on his customers.
How did your online career in marketing and copywriting guide you into starting a hosting business?
Even from a very young age growing up in Australia, I was always a pretty creative kid and as an adult have created things like ad campaigns, products, films, books, companies, software and even a dog welfare foundation.
Some of us are born managers while others like me are just naturally creative/entrepreneurial, which is not to say that I was always good at it.
I find management a challenge but a necessary part of what I do as co-founder and CEO of WPX Hosting, which I started back in December 2013.
I deeply enjoy writing and thinking about business projects and marketing and have a natural curiosity about how people and organizations can make a massive, positive impact in the world, hence my very ambitious plans for WPX and my dog foundation, Every Dog Matters (EU).
To clarify, my only intention in growing WPX into a much bigger operation is as a way for it to provide a lot more financial muscle for my dog foundation, which is my main focus outside work (we also help cats and in 2021 we will also start rescuing donkeys and horses from abusive situations).
Unlike many companies who donate on the basis of ‘corporate social responsibility’, I use WPX to personally initiate, manage and influence animal rescue action through direct, hands-on involvement in order to permanently fix the problem here, rather than just flicking that responsibility to someone else through a donation.
As an entrepreneur, I have been using hosting companies since around 1998 – the Web looked quite different back then!
My universal experience with hosting companies was terrible so in typical entrepreneurial style, I thought that I could do way better.
So in 2013, I did.
I didn’t consciously decide to go into Web hosting as my ‘all-time dream project’.
It just seemed to make sense at the time to take on a broken industry and hopefully offer something much better, something independent and something driven by a compulsion to create a much better customer experience.
As I often say to our team here, we are not in the Web hosting business, we are in the customer experience business.
I actually think that the best kind of business to start is one that you yourself use on a daily basis but are unhappy with the current providers. In that sense, we entrepreneurs are really just ‘gap spotters’ who can see an opening in a specific market and then act on it.
That was true of Web hosting and me.
I could just as easily have created a different kind of business back then but I generally love the Web’s low financial barrier to entry for new players, something largely impossible on any scale in the ‘real world’.
Why you chose the Bulgarian capital, Sofia as your base of operations?
It may not be well known but Sofia, Bulgaria is actually a big tech hub in Europe. Companies like SAP, HP, Microsoft and hundreds of other software companies employ many thousands of people here and competition for quality staff is fierce!
SiteGround, one of our older hosting competitors, is also headquartered in Sofia.
I moved from Sydney, Australia to London in 2004 and in 2011 I started looking for a good base to move my Web business away to, having had enough of the UK’s weather.
Plus, I met my Bulgarian wife in London in 2007 and we were married in 2010. We considered practically every country in the world as the new home for my Web business (unrelated to hosting at that time) on the basis of factors like weather, available IT skills, tax laws, quality of life, ease of travel, stability and so on.
No single country satisfied every point on the checklist but Bulgaria won out in most categories so we moved here in 2012.
I love the spectacular nature, sunny weather and low cost of living in Bulgaria (Sydney is insane now!) and will be here forever.
My wife and I also have 3 dogs and 7 cats at home and that somehow works here which would be much harder elsewhere I think.
Name one KEY thing that sets you apart from your competition in hosting space?
Hosting is a complex business and there is no getting around that, far more complex than most ordinary Webmasters realize.
What complicates it further when it comes to WordPress specifically – as it is open source – is the availability of a ton of software for WP out there made by coders of highly varying quality, some of whom have no understanding of the server/hosting/compatibility implications of their programming decisions.
For instance, the WordPress free plugin repository has close to 60,000 plugins available now – do those get along with each other if combined on a blog or other software like different WP versions, different PHP versions, heavy eCommerce platforms like Woo etc?
Most non-technical users don’t understand just how much software needs to play nice with other software for a website to work as intended.
With that context in mind, our primary goal at WPX has always been to provide an extremely fast hosting platform with deliberately under-loaded servers (unlike the so-called cheap hosts) and a relentless drive for performance improvement. We are not the cheapest host and far from the most expensive but I believe the value for money at WPX is exceptional in the ‘Managed WordPress Hosting’ niche.
To that end, for example, WPX is the only host I know of with our own custom CDN (Content Delivery Network) across 26 global end points, we are the only ones who average 30 seconds on live chat support, we introduce a ‘fixed for you’ guarantee to fix a site for free if it goes offline and we also pioneered free site migrations to WPX in under 24 hours back in the day (can’t remember when).
A key factor with WPX that allows us to continually innovate on features like those above is our independence. WPX was fully bootstrapped, has zero VC capital invested and we are free to innovate in any way we choose. To my knowledge, WPX is one of the last few independent Web hosts left now, along with Kinsta and SiteGround. Even Flywheel were swallowed up by WP Engine/GoDaddy not long ago.
To summarize, the independence of WPX enables us to continually invest in new innovations that improve the customer experience, value for money proposition and simplicity of WordPress hosting.
Having said that, we do occasionally encounter customers’ sites with unconventional software or huge eCommerce setups that aren’t suited for WPX – we usually and happily recommend that they move on to dedicated servers as we are not a good fit for them.
With site speed as a confirmed ranking factor with Google, how reliable are speed testing tools like Google Page Speed Insights, Pingdom, and GTmetrix?
Every tool has problematic issues and I have written about these on the WPX blog.
Let’s take the Google Page Speed Insights tool on Mobile assessment.
If you go through several pages of links from the results page to other parts of Google, they reveal that their test (50%) assumes that the user is on 3G and an old Motorola phone. Now the webmaster is blamed for the site visitor’s poor hardware? And who still uses 3G?
As I wrote there:
It means that Google Page Speed Insights/Lighthouse is mainly judging your Mobile speed performance on the users’ antiquated hardware and network technology, not on the actual, testable, ‘seeable’ loading speed of the world’s biggest websites, which had terrible mobile scores, as you saw with some of them above: Apple, YouTube and Netflix.
Would Google therefore like us to just have an ugly, text-only website that works on this obsolete tech because that is the exact opposite of where Web functionality is going in terms of ever more complex sites, functions, expectations and interactivity.
Does Google also want us to throw away useful page building tools like Thrive Themes, Divi and Elementor as these make sites heavier?
In its current form, in my opinion, this tool is largely useless and just creates a lot of unnecessary anxiety. Hopefully Google will fix it in the future.
Hosting is one of the most fiercely contested digital marketplace. How did you manage to start a new player and take it to such heights?
Back around 2013, I was well known online in SEO circles for my research and software tools, had a moderately successful forum (before Facebook Groups killed them!) called Traffic Planet and enough of those people trusted me with their hosting business after we launched to make us viable, then grow – god bless them all!
How many data servers do you have and what’s the redundancy in the whole system?
With all of our various CDN VPS’s, origin hosting servers, backup machines, special projects servers and prepped machines ready for action, it’s probably around 100, give or take. We have customized our CDN a lot for emergency server failures and it has massively reduced rare offline time caused by a hardware failure or other network issue. We also perform automated, off-site daily backups for all WPX customers and we will likely develop fail-switching options in 2021.
One of the KEY fears of anyone with a functioning, money making website is to avoid getting hacked. What’s the countermeasures at WPX?
The best way to avoid getting hacked is to NOT use hacked or nulled plugins or themes to save a few bucks on buying the legit ones.
Nulled plugins are usually full of malware and far too many naïve Webmasters assume that they are harmless.
They are not.
Even an inactive plugin can leave a security hole so site owners have to take responsibility for some security measures e.g. up to date plugins and themes, up to date WP, strong passwords, not using nulled plugins.
Unlike most hosts, we scan and, more importantly, remove malware from all WPX servers on a daily basis. This is free for all WPX customers and most are unaware that we do that whereas some hosts charge hundreds of dollars a year for malware removal.
Where we see WPX customers using nulled plugins and causing issues, we firstly warn them and then ask them to leave WPX if they continue that behavior.
How did you create a stellar reputation in customer support i.e one area where most hosting companies struggle?
It was extremely important from Day 1 and it’s why we have a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot.com.
We have always overloaded support shifts with staff to make sure that we not only respond extremely fast – e.g. 30 seconds on average according to the independent live chat software that we use – but also that the support agent who answers within 30 seconds is usually able to solve the issue for you, without the need for escalation.
Plus, a few years after we started, we threw out the dumb Web hosting conventional approach to customer support which was (and still is for most hosts, shamefully):
 customer has technical issue
 support agent sends the customer a link to a long technical article and expects the non-technical customer to read, understand and apply the solution
 confused customer spends frustrating hours/days trying to decipher the article and eventually gives up or pays someone to fix it
We changed that – for most cases, but not all – to
 customer has technical issue
 WPX support agent researches the issue and fixes it within a few minutes, for free
 the customer gets back to running their business
Initially, support agents weren’t too sure about this but it quickly became part of our company DNA and it’s why almost all of our customers love us.
Most technical issues are obvious and easy to fix for an experienced support agent but are frustrating and difficult for non-technical entrepreneurs (our core audience).
A very small number of customers try to abuse this policy with demands for free design work or software debugging but on the whole, WPX customers love our approach, as illustrated on our Trustpilot.com reviews page.
99% digital entrepreneurs hate technical jargon. Why do hosting companies “assume” that website owners write code in their dreams? Isn’t that insane?
We assume very little technical knowledge in the typical WPX customer and try to make it as technically painless as possible, as discussed above.
One of the KEY differences of WPX hosting is you doing away with the outdated cPanel. How did that come about?
In our case, we hated how heavy cPanel was on servers, how ugly it was and viewed it as a dinosaur technology that we wanted nothing to do with.
In late August 2020, we also redesigned/refreshed our look which we hope also further simplifies hosting management for our customers.
Most hosting companies don’t go to the trouble of building their own CDN, why did WPX bother with this extra?
The problem with 3rd party CDN providers like Stackpath was the lack of flexibility and innovation for our specific WordPress hosting needs.
It is a perfect example of a core WPX principle:
WPX doesn’t do things just because other companies do them
WPX doesn’t NOT do things just because other companies don’t do them
In short, we wanted more speed, flexibility (to innovate on full page CDN caching, coming soon) and freedom to independently design crucial parts of our own platform.
Are you adding more endpoints to WPX CDN?
Yes. Recently we added Madrid and are always looking at more coverage based on where our customers’ traffic comes from e.g. South Africa.
In terms of origin hosting locations, we will be adding Frankfurt, Germany later in 2020 for European customers worried about Brexit and probably India in 2021.
Given our performance in independent speed tests, our own CDN, even in its current form gives us a killer speed advantage for most conventional WordPress websites.
100s of busy small business owners want a better home for their biggest asset online i.e their website. But they are skeptical about site migrations. How does WPX hosting handle it without any interruptions at the front end?
The vital point on a site migration is that the Webmaster does NOT make any site changes e.g. adding new posts, during the transition (‘propagation’) period as these could be lost.
This is partly because during the migration process, some visitors will see the site loading from the old host and some from the new host until the propagation process is completed – that’s just how the Internet was built.
This can be monitored closely on the free tool at whatsmydns.net
We manually move customers sites to WPX, including emails if required, within 24 hours and generally it is a smooth process.
What are the future plans for expansion?
These are top secret so I would have to kill you if I revealed them to you.
Most newcomers to the online world have this unhealthy magnetic pull to pay $3 per month for their hosting to build their future assets. How are they hurting their chances?
With massive marketing daily, large companies like Bluehost, Hostgator and GoDaddy constantly devalue hosting with their endless “cheap hosting”deals.
The problem here that is that [a] cheap hosting is only possible on horribly overloaded old servers [b] quality support is impossible, and [c] the experience for both site owner and site visitor is usually awful – check out how Hostgator and Bluehost customers feel about them on Trustpilot.com, not pretty.
Before we started WPX, I lost count of the number of times “unlimited” hosting went down during a launch or important email, how many times a support agent didn’t know or care about my technical issue and how many times crazy and unnecessary up-sells were jammed down my throat (yes GoDaddy, I am looking at you).
So these big companies with cheap hosting deals are usually unprofitable, have terrible service at the server, support and security levels – but hosting newbies don’t know that, not yet at least.
That’s who these companies target and benefit from – newbies or relative newbies.
Our core audience at WPX is the somewhat experienced, non-technical solopreneur trying to build or run his or her online business successfully. Usually they have been burned by Bluehost/Hostgator/GoDaddy and rightly demand better.
And is a Web business a real business if it can’t afford $20 a month for high quality hosting that gives site visitors a great experience?
And even if site speed had nothing to do with Google rankings, what kind of experience will visitors have on a website using horrible, cheap hosting? Will they ever come back? And how much time, money and energy did it cost to get these visitors there in the first place?
What measures are in place at WPX hosting in addition to FREE malware removal service?
In addition to what was mentioned above, we also have the full battery of protection systems against:
– Brute force login attempts for WP
– Brute force login attempts to WPX accounts
– DDOS attacks
– Mass email broadcasts via malware
A roundup of why you should choose or switch to WPX Hosting today:
· Fastest WP hosting for most conventional websites (say independent tests)
· Free site migrations within 24 hours
· 30-second average support response time
· Equal highest Trustpilot.com Trustscore of 4.9 out of 5 in Web hosting
· Free site speed optimization upon request
· Free ‘Fixed For You’ Guarantee if your site goes offline
· Free high-speed CDN (Content Delivery Network)
· Free daily malware scanning and removal
· All servers running on Litespeed technology
· WPX cares for 500+ homeless/shelter/disabled dogs every day
Connect With Terry Here
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