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In an episode of “This Ain’t a Dating Show,” presented by Masters in Cash, Stefan Mühlbauer interviews Brad Mitchell, the President of MojoHost. Brad provides an intro to MojoHost and discusses the differences between hosting providers, highlighting MojoHost’s commitment to excellence and customer support. Brad also sheds light on hosting trends, including the impact of AI and MojoHost’s focus on storage-based hosting. Don’t miss this engaging conversation with Brad Mitchell, an industry veteran sharing valuable insights from his wealth of experience.
Stefan: Welcome to the brand new episode of “This Ain’t a Dating Show,” the video podcast with industry veterans from the dating industry presented by Masters in Cash. Today, we have practically royalty of our industry here – it’s Brad Mitchell, who practically doesn’t need an introduction. He’s the CEO of MojoHost. But for the people that have not heard about you and MojoHost, please introduce yourself.
Brad: Thank you so much, Stefan, for having me today on your podcast. My name is Brad Mitchell, and I’m the owner of MojoHost. This is my 24th year in business. At MojoHost, we specialize in hosting. We are a global company with services provided from Europe and North America. Our specialty is serving this industry. Currently, we host 2,000 different companies from all over the world that are in the dating and online entertainment space.
Stefan: So, you’ve been doing this for 24 years, and there are also other hosting providers in this industry. I would say that you are the most well-known one in this industry, becoming a focus on that. But when we speak about hosting providers in the entertainment space, what are the differences between providers when it comes to service, pricing, and specifications, for example, in dating?
Brad: Sure. So, there are many hosting companies in the world. If you do a Google search, you’ll find that there are tens of thousands of results. But with a trained eye, when you start to look under a microscope to examine your options, you’ll find that there are only a few hundred very large hosting companies worldwide. The rest are tens of thousands of smaller hosts, resellers, and companies that don’t own all of their infrastructure. At MojoHost, we own our infrastructure, which means we have our IP address space, nearly 100,000 IP addresses, and we also own 3,000 servers. These servers are used as dedicated servers, virtual private servers (VPS), and are built into clouds for cloud hosting. We have storage and other offerings. So, what differentiates us from other hosters is this. It’s easy to be cheaper, but at MojoHost, we strive to be more than just the most cost-effective choice. We aim to be the best at what we do. Whether you’re a customer spending 50 Euros per month or 50,000 Euros per month, you’ll receive the same highly available, dedicated, and technically brilliant support from us. We set the expectation very high, and that’s something that is very difficult to deliver on with service. While some smaller hosting companies may provide good personable service, we have figured out how to do this at scale. Our technical team consists of almost 50 people, allowing us to help customers configure and optimize their hosting solutions to meet their budget and needs. That is how weexcel in the larger world where most hosting companies aren’t very creative.
Stefan: I’m a client myself for MojoHost, probably the smallest that you have, but I get very good service. Maybe it’s because we know each other, or maybe it’s really the service that you guys are famous for. What are the advantages for a very big company that has a team of sysadmins when you offer all these services and consultancies? Is this even needed, or because you have more insights than anybody else because you are practically operating it? It’s also for big companies with their own admins available.
Brad: That’s a great question, Stefan. The advantages of working with MojoHost for large companies with their own sysadmins are numerous. While these companies may have their own technical teams, we can still provide valuable assistance by filling in the gaps that they may have in their expertise or capacity. Even with a team of sysadmins, managing large and complex online infrastructures can be challenging, and having an additional perspective and support can be highly beneficial.
One of the key advantages we offer is a second set of eyes and insights. Since we operate and manage various infrastructures, we have extensive experience and deep insights into optimizing and troubleshooting technical issues. Our expertise and diverse client base allow us to offer unique solutions and perspectives that may not be readily available within an individual company’s team. We can provide a fresh approach to problem-solving and help identify and resolve issues more efficiently.
Moreover, working with MojoHost allows companies to access our services and expertise without incurring significant additional costs. Even with a minimal support plan, companies can engage with us to meet their specific needs and leverage our technical knowledge. For example, if a company’s sysadmin team operates during specific hours, we can provide support 24/7, ensuring that any issues that arise outside of their working hours are promptly addressed.
Additionally, we go above and beyond by thoroughly documenting our clients’ environments. This includes detailed notes on which servers host specific components of their infrastructure. This documentation enables effective collaboration between our technical teams and our clients’ sysadmins, ensuring smooth communication and efficient problem resolution.
Furthermore, we offer content-level monitoring services. This means that our team can continuously check the performance of your servers, not just to ensure they are up and running, but also to monitor the proper loading of web pages. This is crucial because, in today’s interconnected systems, proper functioning of databases and other components is essential for pages to load correctly. In case of any downtime or performance issues, our team can quickly identify the problem, resolve it, and provide comprehensive reports and updates to your sysadmins.
So, even for large companies with their own sysadmins, working with MojoHost provides several advantages. We bring additional expertise, insights, and support to complement existing teams. Our services help optimize complex infrastructures, offer round-the-clock support, thorough documentation, and comprehensive monitoring capabilities. These advantages ensure a smoother operation, efficient troubleshooting, and improved performance for our clients’ online platforms.
Stefan: So when you run your own dating site, for example, what I host with you are some small dating blocks that I did not really make to earn money – it’s more so that I understand the affiliate mind a little bit more. I started this many years ago and it’s still producing something. How important is the hosting for SEO and what can an affiliate do, but also what are you doing to help them improve their Google ranking?
Brad: Sure, there are several factors that affect your rankings on Google. It’s important to analyze your website’s performance because faster sites and quicker-loading pages tend to receive preferential treatment from Google algorithms. When using platforms like WordPress to publish your site, people often use plugins, which can cause performance and security issues. At MojoHost, we can assist our customers in addressing these problems, optimizing their websites, and improving load times. We have extensive experience as a hosting company, serving various businesses such as affiliate programs, dating sites, and cam companies. We pride ourselves on being the most flexible and intelligent hosting provider for small and medium-sized businesses.
Working with us means having access to our accountable and easily reachable sales team, including myself and Natalie Pannon, a renowned MojoHost account representative. We offer readily available support and can help solve problems you may not even know how to articulate. Our technical team is here to provide comprehensive answers and assistance. Additionally, we offer unique services related to IP addresses, catering to search engine optimization and the evolving needs of social media marketing. For instance, we can provision non-contiguous IP address space and subnets.
Some of the unique services we provide to our valued customers, whom we consider like friends and family, involve utilizing IP addresses in intelligent ways to benefit search engine optimization and address emerging needs in social media marketing. For instance, we have the capability to provision non-contiguous IP address space and subnets.
Stefan: How does that apply to someone like me?
Brad: At MojoHost, we have a substantial number of IP addresses, around 86,000 in total. Each website has its own unique IP address, which serves as its virtual location on the internet. Think of it as a street address for your online presence. Just like there’s only one specific street address in the world, each website has its own distinct IP address. When you host your website with us, we assign an IP address to your domain name. This IP address is associated with the hosting service you choose, whether it’s a VPS, dedicated server, or cloud instance.
Let’s consider an example. Suppose you’re an affiliate marketer promoting various dating providers, including AFF’s and those of Christian mingle. You might have multiple similar promotional sites with rich content such as blog posts and videos. However, you may not want it to be obvious that all these sites are hosted on the same server and owned by you. You’d prefer each domain to receive individual attention from search engines.
Here’s where smart coordination with your web host comes into play. By offering flexible solutions, like what we can provide at MojoHost, we can potentially assign different IP addresses from different blocks or networks to your domains. These IP addresses would still resolve to your hosting space but appear as separate entities in the eyes of search engines. This strategy allows you to optimize your online presence and improve your search engine rankings.
Stefan: So, you have around 86,000 IP addresses, but I assume you host more than 86,000 pages?
Brad: That’s correct. We have a vast number of IP addresses, but it’s not necessary to assign a unique IP address to each hosted page. In today’s economy, IP addresses have been exhausted, meaning they have all been assigned to hosting companies worldwide, including ours and others in Asia and Europe. The numbering system has its limitations, and even with the introduction of IPv6, which offers a larger pool of addresses, there is still value associated with having a distinct IP address.
Stefan: Does Google and other search engines treat IPv6 differently from IPv4? Does it have any influence?
Brad: It’s difficult to say definitively. I believe you could gather a panel of experts, including professionals like Dan from Social Hulk and others from different companies, who would offer valuable insights. While I may not be the ultimate authority as an individual affiliate marketer, I can say that many people still prefer to represent different physical IP addresses. IPv6 is a technical solution to the scarcity of IP addresses, as it provides a much larger pool using letters and numbers in longer strings. However, not all routing devices worldwide are fully compatible with IPv6. Nonetheless, IPv6 is gradually gaining acceptance. For affiliate marketers, what’s crucial is having access to smart support and being able to ask open-ended questions. The response from the web host should go beyond recommending additional resources like RAM or CPUs. In most cases, enhancing website performance requires feedback on code, page setup, and design. About 90% of the time, we can help clients achieve their performance goals without simply suggesting they buy more resources. Purchasing more resources doesn’t always resolve performance issues.
Stefan: How does hosting mailing services work? I remember some friends being affected when their hosting company or ISP, I’m not sure how it’s connected directly, disrupted their mailing business.
Brad: I can provide some insight into mailing services. It has been the case for over 20 years that MojoHost is not the ideal host for those looking to engage in mass marketing or unsolicited email, commonly known as spam. I have never allowed such practices, especially considering the significant value of the IP addresses I own today. These IP addresses, which were originally free, are now worth millions of dollars. The scarcity of IP addresses has driven their value up consistently over the past decade. Additionally, IP addresses have a reputation and history associated with email, including blacklists and filters used by corporations and scanning services. Much of this is based on the IP address’s history.
While there are mailers on my network, they are typically legitimate and compliant with proper emailing practices. They may have multiple IP addresses from us, but they engage in responsible emailing, such as obtaining double opt-ins and maintaining functional renewal processes. When it comes to IP addresses for mailing, we may not be the most accommodating host. So, if you are highly experienced, have nurtured a mailing list over time, and understand the importance of gradually warming up IP addresses and growing volumes organically, we can be a suitable host for your needs. But if someone intends to purchase a list of 100 million email addresses and expects to mail them successfully, they would have to seek alternative networks elsewhere in the world, as we do not allow spam on our network. On the other hand, for individuals who are organically growing their mailing lists, we provide a good platform for such endeavors.
Stefan: If someone were to use your IPs for spamming, aren’t IPs like a big family in some way, and wouldn’t one person’s shady activities affect other customers?
Brad: It’s definitely a possibility. IPs are grouped into subnets, and the smallest grouping is called a C-Class, which consists of 255 IP addresses. So if someone engaging in such activities is a neighbor on the network, it could potentially impact their neighboring customers who are hosted on different servers but have IP addresses close by. However, it’s not a guaranteed occurrence. As a host, we have visibility into these issues because unsolicited email often generates abuse complaints that come to MojoHost. In such cases, we create a support ticket with the client and approach it with an educated response. We understand that our clients are generally trying to do things correctly, and sometimes the setup for sending email successfully, including setting up reverse DNS, can be complex. However, people attempting to engage in such activities often have suspicious inquiries, making them easy to identify, such as trying to buy something in the shopping cart and paying full price or attempting to order using multiple IP addresses. They might even send general inquiries where they try to bribe us or offer to pay more to use our IP addresses, making it quite obvious from the start.
Stefan: As an affiliate manager, it’s crucial to act as the gatekeeper of the program. So, in the end, it’s something you have to deal with. There are always individuals who want to engage in questionable activities within your system.
Brad: Yes, indeed. We strive to be effective communicators, and if something doesn’t seem like a good match for us, we openly express that it’s not a suitable fit. We may even recommend other hosts that we believe could possibly help solve such problems.
Stefan: But if someone were to host extremely objectionable content on an IP address, let’s say someone has 1,000 properly warmed-up IPs, and suddenly someone enters and uploads something really outrageous, forbidden content, would that also harm their reputation?
Brad: I don’t think so. Generally, in rare cases where someone attempts to host illegal or highly objectionable content like what you mentioned, it becomes apparent very quickly, and we promptly handle it. We would immediately notice such content through abuse reports, and we would take action by warning or even terminating the customer responsible.
Stefan: How do you identify such content?
Brad: We would identify it because the IP addresses I own are registered to MojoHost. So, if there is a network abuse complaint regarding illegal or salacious behavior, it would come to our IT administration email address or network operations center at MojoHost, or it would be sent to our abuse email address. We would see these reports, immediately identify the client involved, and take the necessary steps to stop the behavior. We would engage in corrective discussions or terminate the client if needed. However, at MojoHost, we have a close-knit and well-known community of around 2,000 companies we serve. It’s not common for complete strangers to become customers. Usually, our new customers are referred by existing customers or friends. Therefore, we quickly identify any problematic activity, and in my experience, such instances do not significantly affect the IP address reputation. Unsolicited email is usually what has the most impact in that regard.
Stefan: When we record a podcast, one of the hottest topics that often comes up is AI. I’d like to discuss the trends in hosting and how AI is already impacting your business.
Brad: Absolutely, we’re really excited about artificial intelligence and deep language learning models. Personally, even as a business professional, I extensively use chat GPT to help me create high-quality technical, sales, and marketing content for another hosting brand’s website. It’s evident to all of us that AI is the future, and we’re figuring out how we can leverage these technologies today to maximize our success and profitability in the future.
As a web host, my approach at MojoHost is to increase our inventory of GPU servers. We already have clients utilizing GPUs for deep learning at MojoHost. While cloud instances are available for such purposes, we aim to offer comparable and competitive services at MojoHost. I want to ensure we have a cost-effective strategy so that I can make a strong business case for why someone should choose MojoHost over Amazon Web Services, for example. We are taking it slow, gathering feedback from our customers on the GPU options they prefer in our different markets, including Michigan, Florida, and the Netherlands. In the future, we plan to expand to more locations.
I’m focused on having the right physical hardware to support the evolving needs of AI applications. I also want to encourage and support my friends and customers who have new ideas and innovative business approaches that leverage AI technology. I aim to make our infrastructure accessible, whether through low everyday prices, free offerings, or flexible solutions. My goal is to enable creative entrepreneurs and problem solvers to develop and explore their solutions without financial barriers during the development stage. I believe a web host should support and nurture everyone with creative ideas, so that when they achieve success and gain traction with their commercial products, they can continue to grow and scale on MojoHost, just like my biggest customers have done over the years.
Stefan: Besides AI, what other trends are you noticing in the hosting field?
Brad: One of the trends we’re really excited about, apart from AI, is our focus on being a strong competitor in storage-based hosting. While MojoHost is well-known for dedicated servers and fast virtual private servers, we have also made significant advancements in cloud storage. We have been offering cloud storage services for almost seven years, but it has only recently gained prominence on our website.
We provide four tiers of object storage, which is similar to what you would find on Amazon Web Services. Object storage allows you to store and retrieve large amounts of unstructured data. In the past, you would typically require a dedicated server with a RAID (redundant array of independent disks) setup to achieve high storage capacity. However, at MojoHost, we have built our own data centers and storage clusters, investing millions of dollars in hard drives and servers.
Stefan: What is object storage?
Brad: When you utilize our storage clusters, your data is distributed across multiple servers, with each server having hundreds of hard drives. We ensure full redundancy and replication by creating three times replicated storage clusters, providing several petabytes of storage capacity. To give you an idea of scale, a terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes, and a petabyte is a thousand terabytes. These high-performance clusters offer scalable and reliable storage solutions for our customers.
Stefan: What types of files do people store in the object storage?
Brad: People store a variety of files, including video files and images. Premium sites that sell recorded video content, for example, store their entire video libraries on dedicated storage. I have worked with software providers in the online entertainment industry to make them compatible with object storage. Some of our customers have large amounts of cloud storage, ranging from 100 terabytes to over a petabyte. With object storage, they can efficiently scale their storage without the need for additional servers every month. MojoHost offers competitive pricing compared to companies like Amazon Web Services, Wasabi, and Storage A. We have overbuilt our infrastructure to ensure better performance and faster delivery at a more cost-effective value.
Stefan: How does object storage help in growing the business?
Brad: Object storage provides an efficient way to grow the business. Over the past five years, most new ideas and developments have come from small programming teams that leverage tools like AWS to start cheaply and dynamically scale. At MojoHost, we have created products that can replace an entire Amazon infrastructure for our clients, while saving them 30-50% on costs.
Stefan: Speaking about finances and saving money, let me ask you a question that is slightly unrelated to hosting. I’ve noticed that MojoHost is a significant sponsor at many conferences.
Brad: Oh, you think so?
Stefan: Yes, you are, right?
Brad: Actually, I need to correct that perception. The truth is, at MojoHost, I strive to be extremely prudent in how we allocate our resources. While people often assume that we are major sponsors at various trade shows, that’s rarely the case. In fact, I usually opt for smaller sponsorships, if any, and focus on creating a hospitality experience that is reasonably priced.
Stefan: Ah, I see. That explains why I remember it that way.
Brad: Let me provide you with a perfect example. At the European Summit – TES Affiliate Conferences, Walter and Andreas have been fantastic collaborators. I host a happy hour event the evening before the conference starts in September. It runs for about five or six hours in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. My goal is to create an environment where I can personally connect with everyone present and provide a memorable experience within my budget constraints. This allows me to serve a couple of hundred people for several hours without spending $50,000. I stretch our resources to make it a more intimate and engaging experience. So, you won’t often see our name prominently displayed throughout a trade show, but you may notice it in different strategic areas where, based on my extensive experience in the industry, I’ve determined it will have the most impact without breaking the bank.
Ultimately, we have very competitive hosting prices, and I’m mindful that we are not in a business that generates an abundance of revenue overnight. We operate with a long-term perspective, focusing on earning a little bit of money each month from a large customer base. As a result, I’m always conscious of how we spend our money. I prefer to invest in cutting-edge technology and assemble the best support team possible. I firmly believe that long-term success is driven by providing exceptional service and cultivating a strong base of satisfied clients who refer us to others. While we do participate in trade shows and allocate some budget for that purpose, I tend to be exceedingly frugal. In fact, if I analyze the past five years, I can confidently state that I have never spent more than 1.5% of our budget on sales, marketing, and travel. This includes not just sponsorships but also expenses such as flights, hotels, and beverages. MojoHost is a privately held company, and although we are not the largest hosting provider in the world, that doesn’t define our success. We generate a respectable $10 million in sales, which I am proud of. However, I am committed to being frugal with our expenditures because I believe that the key to maintaining our market position lies in delivering exceptional service to our clients. This means that the real investment lies in strengthening our back-office operations.
Stefan: In the end of the day, here you may have even answered the last question. So, at this podcast, we always end with the golden nugget. The golden nugget is advice from the guest to the audience that has not been shared a thousand times. You know, like when people say, “Yeah, you have to network.” You’ve heard that a thousand times. It’s not a golden nugget anymore. So, what is your business advice to the people out there?
Brad: I’ll give you something that you don’t hear all the time, especially for affiliate marketers who are watching this, including many newcomers. People are always coming and going, finding new jobs. If your job is to find more affiliates for the company you’re promoting, the challenge you have, especially if you’ve just arrived in this industry and you’re showing up at these events, is that maybe you’re nobody from nowhere. You have no relationships, no one to lend you credibility. The best advice I would give you is to try to maximize your time in the social situations where you can be heard. Usually, this revolves around the hotel bar or common areas, not necessarily the loud nightclub at night. Here’s what I recommend: stop trying to profile people, like asking, “Do you sell traffic or do you want to buy traffic?” This conversation happens all the time with people buying or selling traffic. That approach fails nine times out of ten. As a guy who goes to every trade show, receives emails and sales pitches, and meets people in person, nothing irritates me more than someone asking, “Do you have traffic or do you want to buy my traffic?” And when my answer is no, they move on as if there’s no value in meeting me. Here’s the golden nugget: You’re here to make relationships and create an experience in each of your conversations. If, for example, I just met Stefan and realize that we don’t have anything to sell each other, the important thing about this conversation is two days later at the conference when Stefan is in a conversation with someone who could be a client for your business. If Stefan thinks highly enough of you, he might mention you to the next person. So, your goal is the long game. Sometimes you’ll get immediate satisfaction from meeting someone and doing business, but the real goal is to create an impression and experience, building a trustful bond. At trade shows, we see and do some unusual things, like offsite events or late-night moments at a bar. These experiences bring us closer together. When we’re not together in the same space, we share about our friends, family, children, travel, even personal challenges. Most people are private and guarded, but I’ve learned in my 24 years that being open makes me memorable and endearing, encouraging people to give me their trust. Even if they can’t be a hosting customer, my goal isn’t to sell to everyone I eat with. It’s about being top of mind so that someday, in an irrelevant conversation, if they think of a match, they can make an introduction. I do this not just for hosting business but also to matchmake and pay it forward. When I can connect two different businesses where one is searching for something and the other provides it, it’s the best kind of introduction. Giving someone this gift of making an introduction, and helping them succeed, creates a sense of indebtedness. You may not win with everyone, but if you do this enough times, it will happen. The key is to try to find something for others and do the right thing. That’s good mojo, paying it forward. It’s not a short game; it’s a long game. Success comes back to you when you make others more successful.
Stefan: That is really a golden nugget. Please listen to this. I’ve seen bad examples where people really go about it the wrong way. When you say, “I do this,” they tell you they have no interest and want nothing to do with you. I remember one time at a dinner in Sitges, there were seven or eight people, and I can’t recall everyone. July Larson was at my table, and of course she wasn’t acting like this, but one guy was like, “Okay, let’s introduce what we’re doing,” and everyone did. One guy said he did billing and apparently that wasn’t a match for the inquirer so he just waved him away like “It’s not relevant for me, next”. There was a really awkward silence.
Brad: You can ruin your reputation quickly and make it so nobody wants to talk to you.
Stefan: I met the guy the next day, and he said, “I think I was a little bit of a dick.” I said, “Yeah, you were.” Anyway, if you’re watching this, I’m not saying this to be mean. I think he’s also out of the industry. It’s just for the useful lesson.
Brad: If this is your approach, you’ll probably only last a few conferences before you get fired.
Stefan: It was exactly like this because, I mean, even if I have no business with him, it’s not a sympathetic approach. It’s not what you want to have in your network. By the way, Brad has a YouTube channel, so I will also link MojoHost in the description. Check it out because the man has a lot of interesting stuff to share.
Brad: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Stefan: Ciao, everybody.