Nine Years of Managed WordPress

A look back – and forward.

We launched Pagely in August 2009. Now, nine years later, Managed WordPress Hosting is a multi-billion-dollar channel. I’m not sure even we saw that coming back then.

The channel grew slowly at first, then quickly took off to become saturated with providers of all stripes. Managed WordPress is now ubiquitous. Some providers are interesting, but very few are doing anything different, or better, for customers. The once-novel features of automatic updates, routine backups, robust site caching, and a focus on information security have been commoditized.

Pagely has moved to the top of the market by deploying more robust and flexible solutions aimed at higher ed, media, and enterprise-tier clientele. Our expert-level staff cater to the complex technical and service needs of these clients by leveraging unique technical solutions crafted from almost a decade of “in the trenches” experience and an arsenal of resources available to us from our primary technology partner, Amazon Web Services.

How We Roll (It’s Evolution, Baby)

As the WordPress Hosting space became more crowded, we realized differentiation was the key to our growth. Instead of chasing volume, we drove forward with a focus on platform flexibility and a “white glove” concierge approach to service. Our tagline was “like a five-star hotel for WordPress,” emphasizing our values of professionalism, quality of service, and competency. Our guiding light was never to be the biggest hosting company out there, but rather to be the best hosting company possible.

And I can comfortably say we’re succeeding at that mission. Today, we provide hosting to some of the biggest (Time Warner, VISA, Disney, etc.) and coolest (99designs, UNICEF, Sprout Social, etc.) companies and organizations in the world. We’ve grown steadily year-over-year despite never taking on outside funding.

When the trend was to zig, we zagged. As WordPress ascended, and the competitive waters became frothy as hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital (VC) flooded the space, we narrowed our focus to serving only the top third of the channel. We specialized in high-demand WordPress sites. “We help big brands scale WordPress” became our calling card as our client ranks swelled with household names, generating tens of millions in revenue to sustain us into the future.

We serve our market with a flexible and consultative approach that allows us to deploy solutions specific to the needs of individual clients. This is a slower approach to growth than a typical high-volume hosting company; however, it has allowed us to focus on quality of service in key areas that matter to high-end clients–sales, support, onboarding, and engineering. We’re proactive and service-oriented and our customers love us for it. We’re not for everyone, but if you need WordPress to work and don’t want to worry about it, no one does it better than us.

The “path less traveled” has been fruitful.

  • No VC funding means we only answer to ourselves and to our customers. We routinely put the interests of our customers above profit (try doing that with investors!).
  • No affiliate or paid referrals may mean fewer mentions on review sites and, perhaps, fewer referrals, but we prefer genuine endorsements from customers that know us and believe in us.
  • By running a mostly remote organization, we’re able to hire the best and the brightest, and keep them happy through a positive work/life balance.

We’re a very different sort of company in that we believe when you put people first, and focus on integrity and authenticity, good things will come. Thankfully, that formula has worked for us. Good things continue to come our way.

People First

We’ve been successful as a company–and as individuals–by intentionally fostering a culture that values critical thinking, fairness, and competency. Our priorities elevate the customer and the employee to the same status as profit. These can–and should–be mutually inclusive.

We are a people-first company. The technology powering our hosting, while critical, is secondary to our focus on finding, caring for, and keeping the right people to help our customers. The right people are the ones who are not only skilled and experienced, but, more importantly, genuinely care about our customers and want to provide the best possible service to them. Everything else–our technology, our support, our sales process–grows out of that foundational value.

A core tenet of that culture is that our team members are responsible for managing themselves on a day-to-day basis while being fully accountable to the team as whole. They are given our complete trust to make and execute decisions within their universe of responsibility. Our team(s) excels within this framework.

Our Tech Stack

Throughout 2017 and 2018, we’ve rebuilt our entire stack–investing in our sustainability and continued innovation with forward-thinking, value-driven decisions. Rebuilding the plane while flying it, as they say, while striving to deliver even more value to our clients.

The ARES web application gateway is a core component of Pagely’s architecture, as it provides a faster, more flexible environment than that of other Managed WordPress Hosting companies. Pagely spent most of 2017 developing ARES to better serve the billions of requests to Pagely-hosted websites. The primary functions of ARES include routing, intelligent caching/acceleration, security, and configuration flexibility. For our customers, it means we’re able to create a completely custom hosting environment for them–something other companies can’t manage.

Along with technologies like PHP7, HTTP/2, and SSL management, Pagely uses proprietary NGINX/OpenResty HyperProxies to deliver unmatched speed and Redis to further accelerate the WordPress experience. Our suite of in-house services includes:

  • PressDNS: Premium DNS powered with Amazon’s route 53 service that takes advantage of geo-balancing and geo-routing
  • PressCACHE: A global WordPress acceleration system that works much like a CDN, but is specifically designed to cache and serve WordPress page output
  • PressARMOR: Pagely’s security architecture, including a web application firewall, malware scanning, chroot user separation, and network edge rulesets
  • PressTHUMB: On-demand image optimization and thumbnail creation
  • PressFORMANCE: Performance monitoring analytics and assessments

Pagely’s tech stack continues to evolve through excruciating attention to detail while disregarding what is new/trendy or inexpensive/profitable. We’re interested in what works–efficiently, reliably, and securely–for our customers.

What’s Next… Is Coming Soon!

WordPress software will continue to improve in all areas and its market share will continue to grow. Because of this, hosting companies of all stripes will continue to pop up and existing solutions will try to improve their offerings to serve the expanding market. We aren’t resting on our laurels while things change, we’re getting ahead of the changes.

In a few weeks we’ll be announcing a completely new and, dare we say, revolutionary Managed Hosting solution–one that builds on a decade of experience serving the WordPress ecosystem. This new service will be a departure from our current model of premium high-touch, low-volume hosting services. But it’s still a Pagely solution, so it’s deeply infused with our core principles of fairness and quality combined with our top-tier, battle-proven tech stack and the unique solutions we’ve developed for fast, reliable, secure hosting.

Hosting plans at most other providers are all about profit. Artificial limits such as pageviews or other constraints push customers into higher plans to the benefit of the provider. Bait and switch selling practices are rampant, and the obfuscation of infrastructure are all some of the issues Pagely’s new service aims to address.

Pagely has earned a reputation built on quality, integrity, and expertise. However, our current pricing model is out of reach for those most in need of these qualities in a host. With this new service, we aim to deliver this high level of value at a more palatable entry price–saving more WordPress site owners from the abuses of the industry.

“You have the most skilled support techs of any company I have used. Your people just solve problems that others struggle to even diagnose.” –Dale Reardon

Dale has been an on again, off again, customer of Pagely for many years. While he knows firsthand the value we deliver, budget constraints leave him unable to utilize our services long term due to our pricing model. He bounces between Pagely and several lower-cost providers who disappoint, returning to us for short stays as funding allows. In a sense, we created this new service for Dale and customers like him.

Tesla started with an exclusive and premium-priced electric roadster that led to the more feasible, but still premium-priced, Models S and X, finally arriving at the mass market Model 3. Each iteration provides a 100% Tesla experience even as the entry price for buyers has dropped. We aim to do the same: Take everything we’ve learned over nine years in Managed WordPress and make it available to more people.

Nine years ago we set the gold standard for Managed WordPress Hosting. Now we are betting on lightning striking twice. For the past year, our team–some of the top minds in the industry–has been hard at work on something that will, again, revolutionize the WordPress Hosting space while fixing many of the common shortcomings and complaints. If you’re an agency, developer, etc., you’re going to want to pay attention to this one.

Stay tuned: follow us on Twitter for an announcement coming October 16, or opt in for email updates.

4 Comments

  1. Adam Warner
    Adam Warner

    Congrats to the entire Pagely team! I recall meeting you for the first time at a co-working space in Arizona…head down in front of multiple monitors, building with your passion. Obviously, your hard work and approach have paid off and I’m really looking forward to seeing (and participating) in your next revolution!

    Reply

  2. Jared Williams
    Jared Williams

    Been a long time man. Glad to see things are still going strong for Page.ly. I remember back in the day when things were still very new. Nice work with what you’ve managed to achieve. 🙂

    Reply

  3. Matt Warren
    Matt Warren

    Over the years, I’ve been consistently impressed with the No Bull approach to your service. Something that’s not just another ad-filled vortex. Kudos to the whole team.

    Reply

  4. Raju Mandapati
    Raju Mandapati

    We, at Mabbly have migrated from our own VPS to WPEngine and finally landed with Pagely after the highly respected Mario Peshev’s suggestion.

    Your customer support has been the best in the industry I’ve seen so far. And as Dale said, your reps just solve problems instead of getting stuck at diagnosis.

    Now it’s clear that’s all built on your solid foundational values that run your business every day.

    Proud to say “We host at Pagely”. Excited for the upcoming announcement on Oct 16th.

    Reply