Exponentially High times.

This is not a post about legal weed in Colorado and Washington. This is a post about the current status of our company Pagely and more specifically about how fucking thrilled I am to have our new CTO Josh Eichorn join our team.

There is some often regurgitated saying you hear that goes something like “A great developer is 100x more productive than an average one.” Whatever, fill in your own blanks. That moral of the meme is that a skilled programmer/engineer is exponentially better then an average one


Pagely is a little over 4yrs old as an entity/brand and nearly 8 years old as a product. Managed WordPress Hosting started here, and our new CTO was the architect of it when he worked for us in 2006 as a contractor and built the prototype that became Pagely.

In 8 years since, Pagely was expanded and maintained, primarily by a very average developer: me. I had some help along the way, some of them more average than me, but all were very much average. Through it all though we made a great product that has achieved amazing things. Our historical learnings of what works and what does not work for hosting WordPress at scale are thick, even if the lines of code that processed it were less then perfect.

This summer we were fortunate to hire Josh back as CTO. He packed his family up and moved back to Arizona from the East Bay to shape the technical destiny of Pagely.\r\n\r\nIn the last 3 months or so, the backend infrastructure and site deployment/management tools at Pagely have undergone a dramatic transformation.

    • Legacy Technical Debt: Paid.
    • Site Performance: Vastly improved.
    • Service Uptime: Vastly improved, even while migrating thousands of sites over and debugging along the way.
    • Costs: Cut in half.
    • New systems/features: Game changing

It boggles my mind the difference in production, execution, and results that are achieved by a skilled and passionate engineer vs. an average one.


My name is Joshua Strebel and I am a very average developer. I stopped pretending to be better than I am and invited a great engineer to take over, and it is exponentially the best business decision I have made thus far.

Vote 2012

The New York Times pretty much sums up why I am voting for Obama (again). Every paper, study, and high IQ economist that has ever looked at this arrives at the same conclusion. Tax cuts for rich people, don’t trickle down.

The results of the analysis suggest that changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth. The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie.

However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. As measured by IRS data, the share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of U.S. families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% by 2007 before falling to 9.2% due to the 2007-2009 recession. At the same time, the average tax rate paid by the top 0.1% fell from over 50% in 1945 to about 25% in 2009. Tax policy could have a relation to how the economic pie is sliced—lower top tax rates may be associated with greater income disparities.

Congressional Research Service

Hosting Douchebags

Kick a guy when he is down? You might as well kick your own customers in the junk while you are at it.

Godaddy has had its fair share of problems, everyone has. Today they had a big one.


Competition jumps in and starts kicking.

And the best

Jesus people.. have some class. The sad thing is this has become so common place. I think you can make a solid case why your service is better/faster/stronger than a competitor without having to resort to tactics like this. For the % of customers your offer attracts, how many are you turning off by being a total douchebag?



First mover or Fast follower; never having to say “me too”

We sort of pride ourselves at Pagely for being the “first” in just about everything we have done.

The merits of the first mover advantage have been hotly debated if not outright dismissed. However Brad Feld says be a niche first mover.

Several people challenged this idea in the comments and there are many investors that like to invest in “fast followers” (I’m not one of them.) There’s also a well worn cliche that you can identify early leaders as they are the ones with arrows in their back. While I understand the convention wisdom around this, especially in the context of corporate strategy and general innovation theory, I take a different approach, especially in very fast moving markets like the ones I invest in.

On the opposite end is the Fast follower argument. Which essentially says while the first mover faced the challenges of innovation, customer education, and proving the concept; the Fast follower has the luxury of entering a warm market and learning from the mistakes of the first mover. There is also the advantage of being able to say: “We are just like X, but we do Y differently”.  Being able to explain the gist of the business with a simple contrast is a luxury the first mover did not have during the market education phase.

If we were to do it again, I still think we would opt to be a first mover. Even with the extra challenges that go with it for 1 simple reason: Never having to say “Me too”. When your company is innovating in the space, you never get caught in the situation where you are forced to duplicate a feature or product to stay relevant. In the follower positon, companies do a lot of reacting to others in the space. The best efforts of the fast follower marketing team may present the new item in all sorts of gloss and sparkle, but the underlying message is “we now do this too”.

This is not the case across the board. Certainly many a 2nd-3rd or 10th entry into a space has out maneuvered the entrenched players and gone on to win the day: al a facebook, google, etc.

Recent happenings in our own space got me thinking about the Me Too’s. About this time last year we laid out plans for what is now our new API driven account and infrastructure management system. In June we relaunched our entire system and made our new Partner API available publicly a few days ago.

Company X in our space is working on a similar product, and they chose to mention our press to provide context for their Me Too pitch they made to the target users of the product a few days after our annoucement. This is the meat of slightly longer email sent out by another hosting company within a day or two of our Partner API announcement.

To Theme shop owner

We’re aware that there have been some announcements in the past few days about opportunities for theme marketplaces like yourself to partner with hosting companies and offer tightly integrated, white-labeled managed hosting to their customers via partner APIs.

We wanted to let you all know that, while we have not publicly announced this yet, [company X] has already developed a Partner API which we’ve been “bedding in” for a few months with a select number of partners in order to ensure stability.

… we’d hope there would be opportunity to speak with you about what we have going on over at [company X]  in this space.



Now getting beat to market happens all the time in all spaces. We were working on a product that was to be an “app store” for WordPress plugins and themes.. before we got it finished and to market the WP App Store plugin launched beating us to the punch. We had a choice, push ahead and be the Me Too, or shelve it. We ultimately decided to adapt parts of it for something else, and shelve the concept. We just had no interest in getting out there and trying to promote a product that was 2nd to the game.

Being a first mover is hard. Being a fast follower is probably difficult too. Startups in general are an exercise in self torture some say. At the end of the day it just comes down to execution and how well you do it. Some of the followers in our space have executed on things amazingly well,  some not so much, we have had our share of misses as well. Chances are good this other company will execute on their partner play well, and it will be fun to see how it shakes out. This affiliate seems to like Pagely.

For my personal taste I prefer getting out front, the target painted on ours backs be damned.


I sort of pride myself in being able to hold conflicting ideas in my head at the same time. Being able to consider multiple viewpoints at once. Imagine how much easier things would be in the world if everyone did this.  The religious could also consider science as valid, the conservatives could consider progressive viewpoints as valid.. etc. Being able to anchor yourself in a position to consider the merits of both sides.

Physicist and philosopher David Bohm believed geniuses were able to think different thoughts because they could tolerate ambivalence between opposites or two incompatible subjects. Dr. Albert Rothenberg, a noted researcher on the creative process, identified this ability in a wide variety of geniuses including Einstein, Mozart, Edison, Pasteur, Joseph Conrad, and Picasso in his 1990 book The Emerging Goddess: The Creative Process in Art, Science and Other Fields. Physicist Niels Bohr believed that if you held opposites together, then you suspend your thought and your mind moves to a new level. The suspension of thought allows an intelligence beyond thought to act and create a new form. The swirling of opposites creates the conditions for a new point of view to bubble freely from your mind. Bohr’s ability to imagine light as both a particle and a wave led to his conception of the principle of complementarity. Thomas Edison’s invention of a practical system of lighting involved combining wiring in parallel circuits with high resistance filaments in his bulbs, two things that were not considered possible by conventional thinkers, in fact were not considered at all because of an assumed incompatibility. Because Edison could tolerate the ambivalence between two incompatible things, he could see the relationship that led to his breakthrough. Full Article

Puffy customers

Hey ego man with 10 followers, shut the fuck up. This guy too.

What is it with people now-a-days and their “Do you know who I am and I’ll talk bad on twitter about you” bullshit. I had a customer, mind you a $20/mo customer, pull this card today.

Please terminate page.ly service and reverse the original credit card charges. If you check the correspondence with [REDACTED] on our behalf, you will see your organization’s work and responsiveness has been completely indadequate. It took us one day to accomplish with a new hosting service what we were unable to accomplish with you in a week. I am willing to write this off as a bad day/weekfor you, if you simply reverse the credit card charge, despite the hours wasted and stress you crated for us. If you think on review your service was adequate, I will happily debate you on that topic in a more public place.

The emphasis is mine. First let me say, we dropped the ball and we take full responsibility. The setup took longer than it should, and when it finished file permissions were wonky, and to top it off our our management system would not authorize the client. A grade A clusterfuck for sure. We fixed it up though, over a few days and 3 tickets. Not our best moment, but we took care of them.

If this customer had stopped writing before that last sentence I emphasized. I swear before you I would have polished his ass with my own lips in heartfelt apology and humility. And there would not be a story here.

Instead they got this response from me. We of course take responsibility for the problem and issue a full refund, but they also got a heavy dose of snark:

I looked back at the tickets from [REDACTED] and you are correct, we did drop the ball on getting things taken care of in a timely fashion. We’ll happily terminate the account and refund the payment. We stand by our product and our service, and if we don’t come through on that promise it is our fault.

I would like to also add that your threats of taking things public are not the best way to achieve you end goal. Perhaps you were burnt in the past, and some evil company maybe got the better of you and stole your lunch money. So you may had called them and had to wait on hold for 3 hours and missed your soccer game or something. And you may have sworn, right then: “this will never happen to me again, so I am going to flex my muscle next time and use this thing called the internets to have my revenge. I can use twitter and facebook, and I will say bad things.. and that will teach those mean people to mess with me” On that day you may have decided to reclaim your honor, and you might have taken your @aol email address out into the wild of the internets, head held high, just waiting for the day someone was even going to even think about messing with you.

But truth be told, you had a bad experience at page.ly, and we feel bad about it. Cause you know, we are people too. And we dont like feeling like we got taken advantage of so we try every day to deliver the best product and customer support we can, and if we fail we are wise enough to own up to those mistakes and try to make it right, regardless if the customer on the other end threatens some lame bullshit about telling their social graph they were unhappy.

Thank you for giving us a try, I am sorry it did not work out.
I will cancel the account and refund the payment immediately.

NOT my finest work, but this is how we deal with bullies at page.ly. Every once in a while we get the tough guy that for whatever reason (right or wrong) is ready to start a social media flame war over some real or imagined transgression. That’s really what they or anyone else is doing when they pull the “I’ll take this to twitter” card, they are being bullies. Alec Baldwin lost his shit when a flight attendant made him comply with federal regulations, for some reason he was above the law made a PR nitemare for the airline. Real nice Alec.

So how do you deal with this in your own business?