In today’s episode, Joe talks to Hristo Pandjarov, Manager of WordPress Initiatives at SiteGround – a web hosting company founded in 2004 that provides hosting for about 2,000,000 domains worldwide. Some of the services offered include shared hosting, cloud hosting, enterprise solutions, and domain registration. 

Hristo shares what the roles and responsibilities he had and currently have since joining SiteGround, the advantage of building internal plugins versus acquiring existing ones, why site performance impacts the growth of hosting sites, and how consistency in quality has fueled the company through the years. 

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 04:06 Welcome to the pod, Hristo!
  • 05:43 What’s a WordPress initiatives manager?
  • 09:11 Different positions since joining Site Ground
  • 14:02 Your passion will take you places
  • 17:41 Focus is on site performance
  • 23:32 Building plugins internally than acquiring external products
  • 30:01 Many who built WordPress products weren’t actually business minded people
  • 39:44 Partnership with West Ham United
  • 44:18 The most important value is quality consistency
  • 45:46 Find SiteGround and Hristo online

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: , I don’t know the folks, Joe Howard here, right before we get started with today’s episode. I haven’t done this in a while actually. Haven’t, uh, read out, uh, new reviews. So we’ve got for the WP MRR podcast. I have iTunes open right now. And we’ve got this great review from entrepreneur 1, 1, 2, 0. I’m always learning something new from WP MRR, not appreciate the diverse topics and voices.

Joe has on the show. The podcast isn’t just about WordPress, whether you’re an entrepreneur, digital marketer or a developer, you’ll come away with some cool insights after each episode. I just wanted to give that little review a shout out. I actually haven’t come on to iTunes to look reviews in awhile.

Um, and I actually see a good number of new reviews from a show. So are we not a few more? Uh, episodes, but I really took this, uh, review to heart. We tried to get people from diverse backgrounds about diverse topics on the show, all kinds of, you know, related whether primarily or secondarily or tertiary into subscription revenue, but these topics can become so intertwined.

I think what’s really important is just to hear from a lot of different kinds of people doing a lot of different kinds of things and gives you these little nuggets to be able to unravel yourself and to. Hopefully help you grow a better subscription business. So if you want to join entrepreneur 1, 1, 2, 0, and leaving us an iTunes review or a review and whatever app you’re listening to, I would personally really appreciate it.

You can go to WP mrr.com forward slash review. If you were on an apple or a Mac to leave us a review on iTunes, but if you’re in Google podcast, if you’re in Stitcher, if you’re. Oh, well, whatever Spotify, whatever app you’re using, um, it would be great to be able to get more views and helps the show get found.

Uh, if you leave a star rating and a comment, it also helps me to know what kind of content I should be doing more. So, uh, when I get this kind of review talking about really enjoying the diverse topics and diverse voices on the show, I’m going to do more to get. Even more of a diverse, uh, range of, uh, voices and opinions and people who may agree on things or may disagree on things.

You know, there’s a lot of conversations to be had. So thanks to this review. Want me to do that? And your review can help steer the show as well. Cool. Thank you for that. Let’s get into today’s episode. So today I got the chance to chat with Freestone pond genitals. Now, if you’re, you’ve been in the WordPress space for awhile, you know, crystal from.

Really friendly guy. Uh, every time I, I I’ve seen him in the past and a word camp, he’s like the easiest guy to talk to. We always have good conversations and I haven’t seen him in, you know, two years now, maybe a little bit longer, which you talked a little bit about in today’s episode because of the pandemic, but, um, he’s had quite the journey at SiteGround.

He’s been there for, uh, over a decade, maybe over 15 years from remembering from episode correctly, you know, he’s had quite the journey there and really leads the WordPress. At psych rounds. So it is cool to hear, uh, how SiteGround is dedicating themselves to WordPress, what they’re doing in terms of being, and doing things differently than other hosting companies.

Piece of what I took from today is, you know, a lot of acquisitions happening in the space. You know, that’s how a lot of companies are growing, including WP box, or you’ve done an acquisition earlier this year, but Christo is pretty adamant about how they want to build things out internally because that’s, they think that’s the best way to build things that are going to add the most value to their customer base and help them be the best company they can.

Doing things differently. Can some cases really help you to stand out from the competition being a contrarian work sometimes. Apparently. So I’ll let freestyle talk about today’s episode because he talks about it better than I can. So cool. Without further ado, uh, welcome to the show crystal. Punderdome enjoyed today’s episode.

Uh, okay, cool. We are live on, uh, this week’s episode of the podcast. I’m lucky enough to get to chat with Christo Pottenger of, uh, hopefully. Got that name. Right? So restart. I’ve known, we’ve known each other for a little while in the WordPress space. Good to see you. Good to hear from you. Uh, it’s been a little while, but Toughbooks a little bit about you and what you do with WordPress.

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah. Good to see you. Unfortunately, not in person, but you know, we live in.

Joe Howard: Hopefully soon. Hopefully soon.

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah. We, we organize our, so four camps received an email that work camps are coming back to in person. Sorry.

Joe Howard: A little insider information here. I didn’t know that. So, uh, I wanna, I want to know what to do with WordPress, but I also want to hear about live word camps.

So I know at one point it was like the rest of through 2021, no more in personal work camps is what I heard in last year. And through the beginning of this year, are we still looking at the beginning of 2022 or sometimes he does point to that. Cool.

Hristo Pandjarov: Ah, so there’s going to be some restrictions and so on, but, uh, slowly things are, hopefully we’ll be getting back to them. And we’ll get to meet around the world again.

Joe Howard: Per usual. Most good things take time. So that’s okay. Um, tell folks, tell us folks about you a little bit. Yeah. What’d you do with.

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah, my, uh, my job title you asked in our pre uh, it’s a WordPress initiative managers. We a tidy ground who don’t believe very much in, uh, titles, uh, you know, uh, like that, but, um, It’s kind of difficult to have a job title that covers whatever I do.

It’s, uh, basically I lead our WordPress product and everything we do about our WordPress clients and it touches a bit on going to events, the marketing, uh, leading the product. So we have our security, performance, uh, plugins and everything. Everything we do in terms of a WordPress. So, uh, including our internal systems, we have a number of systems that run on WordPress too.

And, uh, w I lead my team of, uh, four, four press developers. I touch up a bit of a CEO and, um, basically everything that is somehow related with, for press goes through me one way or.

Joe Howard: Yeah. So would you, I I’ve, I’d never heard of the title WordPress initiatives manager before, and I’m trying to like, kind of parallel it with a position.

I have my head. It’s kind of, it sounds like you do a lot of stuff like around WordPress, specifically for psych. So it’s hard to like exactly define like a title is kind of. It doesn’t exactly mean that exactly match exactly what you do, but it kind of sounds like a combination of like a, uh, product manager and product lead and also like, uh, uh, like community liaison community person and kind of all put into one and then asks you w what do you think the title should be? And I think initiative sound good. Does that sound like it’s kind of, kind of defines it.

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah, that that’s, that’s pretty much, that was the main idea behind, behind it. And, uh, yeah, indeed. I, I touch up on all sorts of different things. Sync link constellation. Yeah. So it’s.

Joe Howard: And you’ve been in SiteGround for a long time. I mean, I don’t know how different people will define long time is different, but, uh, I think last time we saw each other was word camp Europe, 2019. I’m trying to remember if that’s the last time I think we caught up there at the site ground has a big booth there every year. So we were, we hung out there a little bit and caught up and, uh, I, it was your position.

Did you have the same title then? Or were you like more community person then? Cause I kind of know you as a WordPress community person, but maybe it’s just cause I like know you it’s just like, cause I see around all the time and online and in word camps, but it was like, did you have a different position back then?

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah, I think I had it for, for quite a few years now. And, um, the person responsible for that job title was Francesca Marano. She she’s now with Yoast. I think, you know, her too, she’s pretty well known in the community. And she was like, listen to you. You have to think of another job title because I don’t ever remember what it was.

Uh, like, okay. You know how much I don’t care about it. So she came up with that and everyone was okay with whatever you want. So I switched it over and, um, it kinda kinda stick with it for the last three years or something. So, yeah. Cool, cool, cool. Yeah. A long time we started growing, I started working as a regular support team member and. Dallas in 2007.

Joe Howard: Wow. Okay. So I was right when I said a long time, because this is, you know, more than 10 years is a big company now, but yeah. 40 years is a long time. Yeah. It’s a long time. So started as a support person. Well, now I have to dive into that a little bit because that’s like a whole journey into like being of the WordPress initiatives manager.

So started as support. Have you done like a few different jobs at SiteGround as the company’s grown or have you do, was it right from support in the community or the.

Hristo Pandjarov: Joint agenda support team? And then, uh, you know, one thing went to another, you know, we have a pretty, pretty awesome, uh, Evaluation and growth part for new people coming to our team.

And it was very, you know, uh, I was super enthusiastic to, to become better and better in what I was doing. Cause I was, uh, before Saigon, I remember I was a working, uh, suburban Delphia developer for, uh, for a business software. I imagined that. And meanwhile, I was, you know, assembling a computer configuration to sell hardware.

And so I have zero idea about what we’re posting is, you know, besides from my Linux experiments in so-and-so I joined, that was a very awesome learning curve. Uh, became supervisor at some point of the support team joined the so-called escalations team we have, which handle the most difficult issues with that.

And then one thing went to another, I took over the company’s SEO and slowly migrated towards the marketing. Oh, so like the Sol for siteground.com to, yeah. Only, only for sag around.com, not for any other customers for something like that, that I I’m still, I’m still doing that with a couple of, uh, with, with a couple of people that helped me with it now.

Um, I’m not, I’m not the one person for that. Um, but yeah, that’s, uh, one thing again, lent led to another. So we started going to work camps more and more in January to back down. We were the official Jumo web hosting provider too. So we went to a couple of demos. And that’s that’s how, how things started and, uh, started going to more work and started developing, uh, were prestige teams, uh, for, for our clients, uh, with, uh, we came up with our super casher, which was the first thing was that was specifically built for WordPress, you know, a caching system that purchase itself, depending on your content of data and so on.

Uh, so that started, you know, You know what cache busting plugin basically, and which is now what I believe the best performance optimization plugin for WordPress. So that’s, um, that was my, my main focus and still is one of the biggest projects I run and yeah, met so many great people, started talking at work camps about, mostly about performance insecurity. So those are my favorite topics.

Joe Howard: That’s cool. I, I, I like hearing about people who started one place and then ended up some place completely different. And especially in a big company, because I think a lot of people think about bigger companies and they think about, you know, I’m going to get lost a little bit in the, you know, want to be a cog in the wheel.

And you know, how organized is a big company really around like the paths for people to go through as a team member. Um, and it sounds like SiteGround’s really been like, uh, done that really positively for you to be able to move across. Different teams and try different things and kind of evolve as, as you’ve grown.

And you’ve evolved yourself into like, starting with support and then wanting to go, oh, I want to get in a little bit more in SEO and marketing. Well, why don’t you try that team? And then eventually like leading WordPress initiative, like that’s a huge evolution for you over 14 years. So like, and the thing that kind of stuck with me about.

What you just said, there’s a lot in there, but the, at the beginning, when you started as a support person, you know, you were saying like, you were really enthusiastic. You really wanted to learn all this new technology and all these new things. And I think that’s, I think that’s a quality that I think a lot of people think that’s important, but it.

To like move through the company like you did. And in some senses up in the ranks into like managing a team of developers and managing WordPress initiatives, like you have to be pretty hungry for knowledge. Like you always have to kind of be like knowing what’s going on in the space, being able to learn new things, understand how hosting impacts all the different other areas of WordPress.

Like there’s a lot to learn and it never stops. And so I think that enthusiasm. And I can still send it in you. Right. It’s like you still have that enthusiasm and that wanting to learn. And like that’s, I think is like something that people, if you’re thinking people are listening, like I want to move up through a company like that enthusiasms probably gotta be there or like, it’s, you know, it’s gonna be a challenge for someone to see you and be like, oh wow.

They really want to do more. Okay. Why didn’t I let them do more? So that’s what really stuck out to me.

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah. You gotta, you gotta be passionate about what you’re doing. I mean, um, Saigon has a great company. And probably it would it’s it was easier than in other big, big companies. I mean, we are big, but not as big as Google and Amazon, for example, you know, uh, we are like around 700 people at the moment, which is a large company, but, uh, not the, by far the biggest one out there.

But I think that if you’re passionate about something, if you really want to learn about it, if you want to become better at what. Uh, one can progress. And in any company, even if it’s somewhere, it might be slower, difficult, more difficult than others, but you just got to figure it out. What, what makes you happy?

What what’s interesting for you and, uh, not to go every day at work, just to get, or sorry at the end of the week or month or whatever. So, yeah, I’ve been fortunate enough to. To be able to switch from doing one thing to another, because, uh, to be, to be honest, in after two, three years, the first years I was a part of the support team member, I was very fortunate to start doing something else, to do the SEO to a bit of development for WordPress, for, for, for template design and stuff like that.

Because otherwise I don’t think I would have. So happy and, uh, could have kept doing the same thing over and over again, you know? So, uh, you gotta challenge your stuff. You gotta do some progress. Otherwise, if you just stick in one place, there are people who are happy like that. But, but that’s definitely not me.

I’m always looking for the next thing to do. And so, um, that being said, like half of my team right now is. Based from made from people who have been previously working on support team. And they’re now working development. Uh, So that’s, that’s, uh, something I’m very happy about, about SiteGrounds as a company and the company culture.

And like most of, a lot of the DevOps team members, uh, have been previously admins. A lot of the admins have been previously supporting members. So there’s always this internal possibilities of growth. And there is not only one path for, for someone. Like if you want to go into development. You know, up to a different team, or if you are more into admin stuff, you can just try yourself in a different, different.

Joe Howard: Yeah. Kyle morph on a Sandhills development team just to give a talk at the WP MRR virtual summit, uh, about, I forget what the exact title was, but it’s like, um, how to develop employee or team member pathway through the company and how to create systems around that. Uh, and it was a great, it was a great talk and something, a lot of people before the summit.

We need, you know, I need more help around hiring and around like making sure my team members are happy and impactful and passionate about their work. And so that was a big part piece of the, of our summit too. Um, so cool. Um, I want to shift gears a little bit and talk about some of the WordPress initiatives that, uh, are going on.

Over at SiteGround obviously you kind of leading initiatives over there. Um, and I’m not sure if you, you know, no longer do like, you know, or Drupal stuff or outside of WordPress stuff. I think you would do some and also WordPress’s is now like a big piece of. What you do at site ground in terms of, you know, the websites you host, but, uh, what’s on the horizon for WordPress professionals.

What folks listening to this should be like looking out for, in terms of like, what is the hope the future of hosting look like when it comes to a WordPress specific site? You mentioned that cash cash thing that I think is interesting, but I’m sure there are other things as well. I’d love to, I’d love to hear some of the stuff going on. It’s like ground.

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah. Um, you can still host our applications with us, like Drupal, Joomla, or whatever custom stuff. Uh, we have some, uh, pretty big enterprise enterprise clients who have completely custom, um, code base, like Yoast, for example, uh, their client area and everything is like custom. It’s not a static WordPress or something else.

Uh, so, uh, WordPress is dominating the. The entire web at the moment. So it’s by far the most popular application, 3% last time, 42 points three. Yeah. It grows so fast. It’s difficult to keep up with that number, but, uh, yeah, so it’s, um, it’s the app we’re mostly focused on and, uh, we try to. We tried to build tools, services that make us make it easier for people to start something, to, to have, uh, to have a successful website and to maintain it because at the end of the day, uh, us hosting companies, uh, SiteGround in particular, what makes us more, you know, both financially and emotionally happy is to have a client that remains with us for a long time, that has a successful website.

Keeps hosting curators. And so, um, there are things that become more important, important with, uh, with time, um, performance being a very hot topic at the moment. I remember, uh, I was probably one of the first people started talking about performance and speed optimization, uh, in, in, at work camps and, uh, You know, back in 2013, 2012, you know, those years I, I still look back at some photos. It’s funny how pack, sorry.

Joe Howard: Oh man. Going back through old word camp talks. I still fat confined my first WordCamp talk and it’s like kind of painful to watch. I was like, man, that was not great. But to got better.

Hristo Pandjarov: You need to love yourself more. You know, that’s true. I keep liking mine anyway.

Uh, I, I don’t have the nerve to listen to an entire thing, but just feel screenshots that, I mean, you look good young boy, my hair was much, much, much darker back then.

That’s what we got to look at the positive side of things, you know? And, um, yeah. Um, but, uh, and nowadays, you know, Did you work? Camp has two, three talks about performance, which is great because you know, Google push down a lot. And, um, that’s why one great example of, for example, it’s high ground. We have developed our SiteGround optimizer plugin, which, uh, takes care of everything.

The caching, uh, front-end optimizations, even things like database maintenance. Uh, image optimizations, what be new, new web formats, stuff like that. Um, so, um, it’s a very, very big plugin right now, and it has pretty much everything you need to, to have a blazing fast website. Um, another new thing we launched this year was, uh, our security plugins.

Uh, we are heavily developing the SiteGround security program, which tries to cover everything you need to have on your application in terms of security strengthening, uh, in that things like two factor authentication, custom in your ELLs to what we’ve been trying to do is make, uh, very difficult things, uh, technically difficult things easy for, for our.

And to make a technology that’s generally, you know, for bigger websites for enterprise stuff, available to people and share hosting, uh, people who don’t have teams of developers behind their backs. So, um, those are examples of things, other things we do, and they have been a great focus for.

Joe Howard: It’s interesting to see SiteGround building some of these plugins internally to pair with WordPress specific hosting and saying as, as part of doing that saying, I think that our, we think that WordPress hosting.

Requires this kind of plugin paired solution, along with hosting, in order to, to give folks using the R word, press hosting the best possible experience. I want to dive a little bit further into that because there is a different path. One could take, and I kind of see companies do co there’s kind of like two paths people could go.

There’s like, Hosting company that says we would like to pair, you know, a host or a plugin, like a security plugin. But instead of developing that internally, they go and find one that’s already in the market. That’s been a different company it’s been developed by someone else and acquire that plugin. And then maybe over the next.

Six months, year, two years, they kind of fold that into their offerings. Or maybe it’s just as easy as just pairing it with hosting. You know, you get hosting, you’ll get the plugin with the hosting. Um, maybe it actually, uh, probably at some point eventually actually folds into the hosting company as a, you know, a core piece of it.

But. The difference is that it was acquired and folded in as opposed to the approach that SiteGround has gone with, which is, it sounds like you’ve developed the security plugin internally and the performance plugin internally. What was the reason that you decided to build it internally, as opposed to maybe looking at the market and maybe acquiring a different plugin?

Because SiteGround’s a pretty successful company. I’d assume you have some funds to say, if you wanted to maybe buy another company, it would be possible. It sounds like you’ve gone to the decision to go billing and internally I’d like to, I’d love to hear a little bit about. Maybe why you think that that was the decision SiteGround went with?

Hristo Pandjarov: Well, we, we have this crafted by ourselves, you know, vision for, for the main parts of the hosting platform that have, uh, which is not wood doesn’t then just with the plugins or. Those things, you know, uh it’s uh, it’s how we approach basically our entire hosting product, you know, um, even back then we were on C panel.

Uh, it was so greatly modified. And, uh, one of the reasons to build our own hosting management tool was that it was so modified that at some point it became more of a burden to already use an already existing hosting management. Down to actually benefit out of it. So we spent years in building what is now cited.

And then we spent a couple of years migrating and, you know, improving and so on to get away from C panel and move, migrate everyone to site. So, uh, this is a, a fundamental belief that we can do some things and we can do them better than, than the people out there. Why wouldn’t I a choir, uh, performance or security plugin is a, because I really want to know that I can rely on the quality of that code.

And, um, to be, you know, to be honest, there aren’t that many good developers out there producing code that can be our standards of inside grounds because when you want something and put it in front of, you know, two, 3 million people, you have the responsibility to have it work in secure, have it properly done.

And, uh, first I don’t think. Makes sense to buy something and then have to rework big part of it. And then, um, there simply isn’t, uh, for our needs, for the way we believe things should be done. There, there aren’t any products that, um, cover everything. I dunno, it’s a bit more hassle to, to acquire a team and have to, uh, you know, put people within our workflows.

Dan started building something cars. And I don’t think, I don’t think that anytime soon, the time will come when we’ll run out of jobs. So expanding our internal development team makes a lot of sense for us. We’re always looking to hire great talent. And so far we’ve been successful with that. And that’s the reasoning because we can do it better than anyone else. That’s, that’s why we’re doing Caltech.

Joe Howard: I get that. I think that there are a lot of there. I think there are a good number of folks doing performance plugins and doing security plugins, but the number of people doing it right now that could meet this current scale of SiteGround is probably a few and far between, you know, if you were to like a second, I was to acquire.

And put it in front of that many people, you know, those products may not just not be at the scale right now may require either refactoring or rebuilding or a change in vision to like, just to meet the standards of being able to service as many clients as you put it out in front of. So in some senses, I think it makes a lot more sense about what you’re saying in terms of, if you have the quality in house to be.

Why not do it yourself and build the best, the best and build the best possible product. Given like your circumstances SiteGround circumstances when you acquire a in it’s kind of like they weren’t building it for you. Like they weren’t building it, thinking like I’m building this to exactly match all the tech, uh, aspects that SiteGround needs. Right. You know, that’s something that has to be figured out if that, that.

Hristo Pandjarov: Actually, actually, what we’re doing right now is exactly the opposite. What everyone else has been doing. Which is always, which historically has always been a good move for us. Uh, what we’re doing right now is we’re opening the opening, the plugins we have built for Sarah ground for, for everyone else.

Like the security plugin, you can use the SiteGround security plugin at the moment on whatever hosting company wants, if they don’t block you with, uh, anything super particular, you know, just, just because it’s, SiteGround’s. Uh, you can run it on, on your posting, whatever, you know, even if you’re not hosted on site around.

So instead of acquiring something that has been built for everyone and making it available for selling around people exclusively, now we’re doing actually the opposite. We’re opening a power security plugin, and soon. Okay. That’s something that I haven’t been told anyone. Now we’re going to make the site ground optimizer plugin available for people I’d say it’s around.

So that’s, that’s, that’s just how we believe things should be done. You know, when you have something you can make it available for more people and, um, hope for the best that they use it for, for the, for the website. So.

Joe Howard: Yeah, I mean, I really like. Mentality. It matches the open source mentality. If I, we all decided to get into WordPress in the first place, you know, we liked the ability for software to be open and not closed.

I mean, it kind of leads into this conversation. Something I wanted to talk to you a little bit about, because you do have a, there’s a community aspect to your position in terms of knowing what’s going on. Just like in the WordPress space and ecosystem. The last 18 months or so there’ve been a ton of acquisitions and buying and selling of companies.

And the just last week, there were a couple of big ones, you know, learn dash was acquired, uh, as well as Sandhills development. And I don’t know why it was those two companies because there have been other companies in the past 18 months that are sold to. But for some reason last week, there was like a lot of chatter around, Hey, They’re either like hosting companies or big entities starting to acquire a lot of the bigger WordPress plugins and.

Is this really good for the community? Um, in some sense, the question about is this good for the community stems from if big hosting companies can just kind of acquire plugins and then, um, like create kind of an all in one solution so that they can kind of like continue to like, take bigger pieces of the pie and not have to worry about honestly, like not have to interact with the open source community.

Cause they ha they can just acquire things and just do them, you know, under their company. That’s a little bit of a conversation that’s starting, I think, to happen. And I’m sure it’s happened. Been happening over the last five years or so. I just haven’t quite tapped into it, but right now I’m starting to really see that become more common.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on, on that. It’s kind of a big topic and a big question, but, uh, I know. To hear a little bit more about why SiteGround is deciding to build internally as opposed to go the opposite direction and kind of what your thoughts are around hosting companies becoming so big that they can do everything as kind of more of an all in one solution and maybe not include some of the smaller companies out there. In terms of, you know, being part of the open source ecosystem.

Hristo Pandjarov: A few, few things here first. Uh, we, we wanna, we generally believe to, to, to build ourselves things that we believe are the fundaments of our far product. That doesn’t mean we, we’re not interested in acquiring a company that would be a great fit.

Uh, for our clients in terms of, you know, company culture in terms of their product. Um, now if you think about it, it’s been going on for four years, you know, it’s like for the regular WordPress users, if you think about how and what website you were able to do, you know, five, six years ago without spending a single dollar.

Right now, you can’t really build anything that’s professional that does everything people need, because you know, the, the demand of people, you know, browsing the web is higher. People don’t need just, you know, five static pages and links between them. You know, you get more functionality and every bigger boy in a has-been.

Uh, business for the past years. And it’s been a growing business, you know, most of, you know, the race, the rise of the freemium model, you know, back back 5, 6, 7 years, most of the people, or most of the funds were free. And, and that’s it, you know, and was time mostly turned into a. Trial version of the real thing that is paid and it’s normal when you have companies making money out of it, making money out of product to become interested in interests for acquisitions, by bigger companies.

And the thing is that a lot of people who started building WordPress products, weren’t actually business minded people. So they. Th they, they made a lot of bad decisions. You have, you know, even if, uh, even if we talk about when to sell to whom to sell. And at some point, you know, when, when you have costing company with a big financial back and interest in your, in, in your business, that started probably as a free WordPress plugin that somehow turned it into a profitable.

And there were, eh, I guess it’s very tempting to, to exit and sell, sell your stuff. We’ve seen, uh, some very bad examples of how not to not to buy a plugin and ruin it. And some others which are doing better than, than before I can say really how bad it is for, for, for the community. It’s, it’s definitely, uh, not the same community that was.

Years ago in terms of the investments you have to make in order to have a website. But, um, on the other end you have. More opportunities to, to build with more tools because you know, when developers are human beings still, they want to make money. They want to eat and have fun, you know, so they have to pay their, their dinner.

And, uh, if, if you want to have a quality plugins, they have to make money out of it. So. That’s that’s how things work and a yes, not, not everything is free now. Not a lot of plugins are owned by a big companies, but then you have a lot more plugins with a lot more functionalities and thing to do. And now it’s, it’s a trade-off because you can’t, you can’t grow a plug into a fully functional solution without making a dime out of it.

Joe Howard: And. Yeah. I’m, I’m glad that you said that. Cause I think, I think for years we’ve been saying in the WordPress space, like we have, we gotta charge more. Like we have to be more, have more premium solutions so that customers pay us more so that our companies can make more money and be more profitable. And like, we can be more comfortable because I think there’s this like open source software is free.

So like your software should be cheap, like mentality. And maybe that was more prevalent, like 10 years ago. But I think. We’ve been wanting to do that for a long time. And now it seems like we’ve kind of shifted our thinking a little bit as far as I’ve seen, and that has attracted more, I think, finance into the WordPress space.

It’s like, you can’t really have it both ways. I agree with you, I think is this kind of the natural. Evolution of any space you have to pay one way or another, right?

Hristo Pandjarov: You either pay with your time and your energy and you go out there, you read the commentation, you pick up a team, pick up a number of plugins, develop something, yourself, learn how to do it, or you pay by, by giving money to someone else to do it.

And that’s completely okay. It’s it’s uh, actually WordPress has. It has made it possible for a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to join this community to make money, make a living out of making websites. If it wasn’t for WordPress, because 99% of the people who claim to be WordPress experts, even if even WordPress developers are basically installing, activating and configuring plugins in teams and.

Now, I don’t want to talk about pricing, um, how much you should charge. But again, I don’t the notion, I think it’s fading away that everything should be free. No, it should not be free. If somebody is working for you, you should pay them.

Joe Howard: Yeah. I definitely agree with that. As a services company, you pay, you get services, you get, you, you have it paid for, I think the.

Uh, yeah, this is like a really big topic we could go on, you know, we could do a three hour episode on this topic, but my argument against potential argument for the reason against why I think it, I think it’s, you know, this is not a good thing for the rescue and to use that, I think naturally open-source software.

With open source software. You’re always going to have, like, the next company is coming. Like for every company that like medium-sized company that’s acquired, like they’ll probably be like 5, 10, 50 smaller companies, like coming up behind that company saying like, okay, they were successful. As long as like the WordPress market share continues to grow.

There’s going to be enough, you know, websites out there that, you know, just because, um, you know, learn dash was just acquired. It doesn’t mean that another kind of course, company can’t come along and develop a plugin that, that maybe hits some of the pain points that a bigger company, like LearnDash, maybe it just doesn’t quite have the, uh, agility, because they’re a little bigger to hit.

Like maybe a smaller company can actually do better and maybe five smaller companies can do better. So I think there’s always going to be more space out there for that. Okay. I want to start wrapping up. But the one thing I do want to definitely talk about, uh, is I was just checking out the SiteGround blog.

Um, people can obviously check out SiteGround siteground.com. Although I think of different domains, depending on where you are in the world, but psych, if you searched SiteGround, you’ll find it. siteground.com is going to be the main site, but I’m on the blog right now. And I see the most recent post here from you is a, about a partnership that you have.

Uh, west ham United, uh, soccer team. Uh, so I’m a big premier league fan. I’m an Everton fan. Uh, so I’m watching every weekend and I think Westham has actually become like my second team. Uh, I love the team. I love the style. I think they finished six last year in the premier league. So six best team in England and they are now playing in Europe this year.

I think they’re actually playing this afternoon for me. So I’m going to turn on the TV and watch them. Uh, team, I don’t know who they are, but they’re playing in a big Europe, you know, the second biggest European tournament in the world. And so, uh, I wanted to talk a little bit about, well, one just cause I saw that I was like, oh, I got to ask Christo about that.

But also, um, just in terms of like, um, partnership work that SiteGround does. I mean the blog post I’m reading, it’s like a partnership with, uh, you know, I guess SiteGround’s the official hosting partner of west hand. I’m not sure if you are part of that or if that’s something that you have an insight into, but I’m sure, you know, there are a lot of companies out there that want to do more like partnership work and maybe they can’t get Westham, you know, United as their partner of choice.

But you know, SiteGround’s a bigger company. That you were obviously able to do it. I’d love to hear a little bit more insight into kind of like the why’s and how all that happened and, uh, and all that.

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah. Uh, I was a part of the initial talks. Um, now, um, everything is handing over to demo or, uh, She’s our brand manager.

Uh, it wasn’t a vacation, but I was like, there’s no way I’m going to miss that. Talk with the west camp people. It’s really amazing for someone who has been working, I’ve done quite a lot of partnership work like, um, I consider it my, my doing our partnership with with a double B beginner with a lot of big companies.

With Westham. I was, you know, uh, stunned by the level of professionalism. Those people showed, you know, it was a very, you know, uh, even our first meeting they were so well-prepared that, you know, the word professionalism was. What’s radiating from them in every possible, in every possible aspect, uh, from, uh, researching the people you’re talking to, uh, from figuring out how we do things going through our materials, man, I was stunned.

And so the, they made a very huge impression on us, on, uh, you know, how they do things, how organized they are, how fast they are when it comes. So, and we, we kind of clicked, you know, Figure it out. It’s going to be nice to work together and partner up. And, um, you know, we’re, we’re based in Bulgaria. Um, our building main building is in Sofia.

We have offices in, uh, two other Bulgarian cities and one in Spain in Madrid. So, um, you know, as Europeans were all crazy about football, so, uh, Uh, yeah, that it happened and I think it’s going very nice.

Joe Howard: Yeah. Very cool. I see. On a blog post, you have like a, uh, a video that got posted and, and all sorts of stuff.

So, um, do you, do you. Do you know how, like it kind of came about, like, was there a first connection where it’s like someone at SiteGround knew someone at Westham or where they’d like to, they put like a, I don’t know, like a ward out there, like we’re looking for a hosting partner and then you contacted them or something.

I don’t know. I honestly, I just don’t know how these kinds of big partnerships. Sometimes come to fruition, except that’s a lot of times I know that there’s just like a network connection. Like someone knows someone somewhere else, and that can be leading to it. But I don’t know if you know the details about how this one got started.

Hristo Pandjarov: No, no, we w we didn’t have any personal, you know, personal link to, to any of them are actually, they, they approached us because they really wanted a hosting partner. So, uh, they have been going through, they did their research and they picked our ground because they were. Loved, uh, our messaging, our product.

They went through a lot of, for reviews about our company and saw that people actually enjoy our product that we have. And, you know, Sarah grounds is a very big company. I, uh, in UK, uh, we, we have a lot of clients and, um, so I guess they, they researched us and figured out where good fit for, for, for them.

Joe Howard: Yeah, that’s cool, man. I think that says a lot about SiteGround and I think it even speaks more wholly to, you know, sure. There’s outreach. You can do there’s networking. You can do to like create these partnerships. There are some proactive things you can do, but in a lot of cases, the best thing you can do is as the company grows and as it gets bigger, To continue to have a great product, to continue to have great services, to continue to do good in the world and put good out there in the world and have a good reputation, right?

Like people think about SiteGround they think about, you know, great support. They think about this podcast listened to the three still on it. Wow. Pretty still is awesome. You know, they associate good things to SiteGround and. Well, eventually come back to help you. When people are looking up, your company are doing the research across companies, you know, they consider SiteGround across with other companies.

Well, second has a lot of great things to offer. And so while focusing on, you know, whatever traditional PR or outbound marketing or network can be important in some cases, You know, it’s also, it’s a good lesson, I think, to not forget.

Hristo Pandjarov: What is the most important core values? What we believe is the most important is to have consistency of the quality and to keep doing this, uh, to keep having good product, uh, in, uh, with time, you know, we’ve seen, you know, the, there are new hosting companies that just pop up.

Now, and then, uh, it’s easy for them to come up with the new stuff they don’t have. They don’t have to upgrade their new, their existing clients just because they don’t have existing clients. So you take, what’s the latest in greatest, uh, stack. You put it in production, new start making signups, but then you get your, then you get your clients, then you have to support those clients.

And then things. This is where things become difficult. And, uh, SiteGround has been doing this since 2004 and, uh, that’s a lot, a long time. So, uh, being able to consistently provide with a quality product is, uh, what I believe is our greatest success, because it’s not about having a very good hosting company for a year. And then. Just break under the pressure of your.

Joe Howard: Are you so thanks so much for jumping on, man. It was nice to have you on the pod. It was really nice just to catch up with you. It’s good to see you. It’s good to, good, to just have a chance to chat for a few minutes. So let’s start wrapping up. And once you tell folks where they can find you online, where they can find SiteGround online, all that jazz, social media, whatever.

Hristo Pandjarov: Well, basically we’re on every social media that you can think of. So we have official proposals. Um, for, um, frequent, uh, the WordPress speed up groups in, uh, Facebook SiteGround users group. Uh, and I’m not so much on Twitter, honestly, these days, but I’m mostly on the, on the advanced WordPress groups and, uh, the bigger Facebook groups there. Uh,

Joe Howard: Yeah. Nice. Cool man. And freestyle also told me he he’s a cool to do an AMA, uh, in the WP MRR community. So he’ll be in the WPR community as well. So if anybody listening, uh, is a member of that, uh, you can find him, uh, there as well. And if you’re not a member, why or why not go ahead and get signed up.

Um, cool. Last but not least Festo. I always ask our guests to the show to ask our listeners for a little, uh, apple podcast review. So if you wouldn’t mind asking folks to leave us a little review at, uh, Okay. Awesome. Uh, yeah, you should totally do that. Uh, a review, uh, reviews and, uh, um, giving back to, to, to content like that is very important for people who do it.

Uh, it takes very little of your time, but it means a lot to, to people behind the scenes because you know, mostly people who are not happy tend to live reviews. So build a different sense. I live a good one. So we can have nice things. There you go. That’s true. I know it’s either like people who really like it or like, don’t like it very much.

So we don’t have too many people. I don’t think who don’t like it. I w I don’t think, I think our lowest star review is a four-star review and that’s only because I asked someone like, Hey, like a perfect five star review, kind of looks a little fake. Could someone leave us a four-star view? So we can have like 4.9 instead of 5.0, and I can’t remember who it was, but one of my friends was like, oh, okay.

Four stars. But not five stars yet. So yeah, pretty stuff. Thanks so much for that. Ask if people want to leave a review for the show, you can go to WP mrr.com forward slash review redirects. You write to, uh, the place in apple podcasts to leave a review. If you’re on a apple device or a Mac, uh, if you are a new listener to the show, uh, feel free to check out some older episodes.

You’ve got like 160 plus older episodes. Uh, just go to WP, M R r.com forward slash podcast, and just use the search bar there. If you have any topics that are current challenge, or you just want to binge some old episodes, feel free to go through some old ones, uh, and use the search bar to search for some keywords, uh, and listen to.

And an episode that will help you level up your business. If you get a little tired of listening to me every week and you want to be more active and growing your MRR, we have a whole community around a responsibly growing our monthly recurring revenue and hitting MRR. Stones together. Um, so just check out community dot WP, mrr.com.

We’ve got a nice asynchronous community they’re built on circle. So feel free to join us there. That is all for this week on the WP MRR WordPress podcast, we will be in your, in your earbuds again. Uh, next Tuesday, Krzysztof. Thanks again for being on man. It’s been real.

It’s for Kerry was fun. All right. Bye buddy.

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