Hostwinds, with offices in Seattle, Washington and Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a web-hosting firm started in 2010 by serial entrepreneur Peter Holden. The company provides hosting services to a diversified client base that ranges from small bloggers with a single website to Fortune 500 companies.
In July 2012, the founder and CEO of Hostwinds, Peter Holden, got a proverbial “offer you can’t refuse” from a client. “We were still a small company and he told me that his email marketing business could double Hostwinds’ monthly revenue in a single day,” Peter explains.
He accepted the client’s business and Hostwinds began to grow like gangbusters, as predicted.
But there was a downside. Through referrals, Hostwinds was picking up more and more email-marketing clients. These clients all swore they were following U.S. anti-spam laws to the letter. Yet within a few years, Hostwinds had acquired one of the internet’s worst reputations for hosting spammers. Eventually, Spamhaus blocklisted large tracts of the company’s IP addresses. Even worse, AOL stopped delivering email that originated from Hostwinds internet addresses. Hostwinds was no longer considered a reliable provider.
Peter realized the time had come for Hostwinds to clean up its act, so he made the difficult decision to remove practically all email marketers from the company’s network. While losing that business would affect revenue, he considered it short-term pain for long-term gain. “Hosting spammers is not a sustainable business model,” says Peter. “So we removed all spammers from our network and rebuilt the business model to focus on core infrastructure and hosting enterprise websites. In doing so, we became committed to maintaining IP space that is clean of blocklistings.”
“MailChannels was the obvious choice and we’re certainly happy with them” – Peter Holden, CEO, Hostwinds
Like all web hosting companies, Hostwinds has to identify and contain spammers within their network who use it to distribute malware or junk email. After an intensive review of available outbound spam filtering solutions, the company chose MailChannels Dedicated.
The on-premise solution works transparently in conjunction with Hostwinds’ routers to redirect outgoing port 25 traffic from the network to the MailChannels server. SMTP connections are analyzed and spam is removed before mail is delivered—without modifying the source IP address.
With help from MailChannels, Hostwinds implemented a thorough anti-spam business model and cleaned up its reputation to the point where the company has captured Spamhaus’ coveted “no-SPAM tolerance network” label.
Says Peter, “We feel more secure about the content coming from our network. We’re also able to assure our clients that we proactively detect and stop outbound spam on our shared ranges and that their IP space isn’t tainted by another user in that IP block. MailChannels definitely gives us peace of mind.”
Changing focus has attracted a new type of client to Hostwinds—one that needs a more complex hosting solution. The shift has helped the company diversify its client base and expand its technical staff. With more clients than ever, Hostwinds has continued on its growth curve.