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You may have recently heard that GoDaddy purchased Media Temple, our host, but Media Temple will “continue operating as an independent and autonomous company.” Such acquisitions are typical in the tech world, but this one hit home: I’ve been a Media Temple customer for about five years, and I deeply distrust GoDaddy — not only are GoDaddy’s services inferior and frustrating, their company has a slimy reputation that’s hard to ignore.

(Skip to the meat.)

For many customers, I have enthusiastically recommended moving away from GoDaddy, and to Media Temple. This new merger creates some conflict for me, and I’ve been considering options for the last week or so since the announcement.

My opinions about GoDaddy and Media Temple are informed primarily by past performance, and confidence in future results. Media Temple’s past performance has been exemplary — for me and everyone I’ve referred to them, they’ve consistently outperformed their competition in terms of their service offering and customer support. They are — to this day — second to none. Prior to the acquisition, my confidence in Media Temple’s future results was great — if they kept on being as awesome as they were, then I would be completely comfortable remaining a customer of theirs.

After the acquisition, however, I’m not so sure. There’s a big management shakeup that’s happening as a part of this purchase. In Marco Arment’s cogent analysis, he says:

If you’re a Media Temple customer wondering whether you should prepare for the worst, the short answer is: probably. While GoDaddy claims that Media Temple will be run as a separate business, with the implication that nothing will be changing and Media Temple customers shouldn’t be worried, look at the language they’re using:

As for why [Media Temple] decided to finally exit after all this time, co-founder Demian Sellfors said that this was always the plan.

“We’ve had our eye on an exit since we started 15 years ago,” he told me. “We regard ourselves as entrepreneurs first and we designed it for exit from the start, even if on the way we accidentally built a phenomenal culture and a business that resounded with the marketplace.”

Translation: “I’m outta here.”

Virb was acquired by Media Temple last year, but isn’t included in the GoDaddy acquisition. Virb’s blog post is so clear that you don’t even need to read between the lines: (emphasis theirs)

After early meetings with GoDaddy, it quickly became apparent that we shared different visions for our website builders. So … I’m thrilled to announce, GoDaddy has decided Virb will be sold back to its original founder and investors, Brad Smith (that’s me) as well as Media Temple’s co-founders Demian Sellfors and John Carey.

Translation: “We hate GoDaddy, and we’re all outta here.”

Since the evidence suggests that this acquisition was partly a financial play on Media Temple’s part, and partly a way to raise GoDaddy’s esteem among “pro” users, it strikes me as almost deceitful of GoDaddy to try and buy their way into hearts and minds. That corporatist culture, Media Temple’s breezy complicity in the acquisition, and the future possibility of management changes that won’t be in Media Temple’s (or Media Temple’s customers’) best interests worry me.

My opinions aside, how does this affect you, your hosting choice, my recommendations, and Honest Code moving forward? I have a nice little question-and-answer section for you that will hopefully help.

Q & A

Is Honest Code moving their own servers away from Media Temple? Yes. Honest Code had a plan to change hosts in 2014 (more about that move will be coming soon) to an environment that was a little more flexible and extensible. The action I’m taking to make this change was accelerated by Media Temple’s acquisition.

Does Honest Code now recommend that we move away from Media Temple? No, at least not right away. For now, Media Temple has promised to keep everything going the same in terms of service offering, pricing, support, and everything else about their business.

Honest Code’s recommendation is to put Media Temple “on notice”: Consider your hosting options for the future and develop a plan in case something changes about Media Temple that you don’t like. If you continue to be happy with their service, then continue hosting with them. If not, implement your plan.

Honest Code enthusiastically recommended that my company host with Media Temple.  Does Honest Code regret that recommendation? No, not really. Their past performance is basis enough for an enthusiastic recommendation, and I have a great deal of confidence that the company will continue to run well independently for at least a little while. However, as time goes on (and management at Media Temple changes) I fear that their service offering could get worse over time. Is it worth making decisions based on fear alone? That’s a deep philosophical question.

Does Honest Code still recommend we move away from non-MT-branded GoDaddy services? Yes, without reservation.

Who, then, does Honest Code recommend we host with? This is the $64,000 question. Media Temple had a unique combination of a simple, all-inclusive hosting tier combined with an easy-to-use server control panel. In the research I’ve done so far, there isn’t a comparable service offering that I feel comfortable recommending. Popular options include Digital Ocean, Rackspace, and Amazon AWS (in order of increasing complexity), but none of those options include a server control panel — at least not one on par with Media Temple’s. Hostgator and BlueHost offer solid hosting options, but require using cPanel, which is mediocre at best. I’m in the process of researching alternative server control panel software that’s not cPanel, and will hopefully have a separate blog post about that soon.

Which host will Honest Code be moving to? I’m currently evaluating colocation facilities for hosting a server that I own (and do not rent). This is a plan I’ve been considering for some time (for simple growth reasons) but have accelerated in light of Media Temple’s acquisition.

Does Honest Code recommend we do the same thing — colocate a server at an outside facility? Probably not. Colocation is great for people and organizations that have very specific hosting requirements that a commodity host can’t meet. (As a web developer, for example, I have some ideas for my development environment that the current hosting environment wasn’t going to be able to support anyway.)

Will Honest Code ever offer hosting? No: Reason number one being that situations exactly like this aren’t fun. Getting phone calls from clients at all hours to resolve hosting situations is not the direction I’d like to take my business.

TL;DR: What, if anything, should I do? There are three things that I’d recommend anyone hosting with Media Temple do:

  1. Understand that Media Temple will change in the next two to three years. That change may not be good. If Media Temple changes in a way you don’t like, you should find another host.
  2. Make a plan (with your IT department or a qualified IT contractor) to move your site elsewhere if Media Temple is no longer a good fit for you.
  3. Continue hosting with Media Temple until they are not a good fit for you. When that happens, implement your plan from step 2.

Posted October 21, 2013. Tagged: , ,

 

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