Brett So Steph, what's the big news?
Steph This is an exciting day... My partner Ryan Noble and I signed a definitive agreement for MonsterCommerce to be acquired by Network Solutions. We are tremendously pleased to see our teams come together.
Brett Congratulations. What did MonsterCommerce sell for? ;-)
Steph (Laughing) Network Solutions is a private company so I am not at liberty to discuss sale price. We feel we received fair consideration for the business.
Brett Are you going to stay on with MonsterCommerce in the same or new capacity?
Steph I will continue to lead MonsterCommerce on a day-to-day basis as President and General Manager. My business partner Ryan Noble will be the Senior Vice President of MonsterCommerce.
Brett Which means you are no longer CEO?
Steph Champ Mitchell is the CEO of Network Solutions and will also lead MonsterCommerce 's strategy. Champ has done a phenomenal job leading Network Solutions over the past 3 or so years. He has taken the company
private, and vastly overhauled the business.
Brett Ok -- shifting gears -- I remember the late 90's early 2000's when on-hold times at Network Solutions were extremely long and caused much consternation in the webmaster community.
Steph Actually, I remember that very well too. I had a poor experience as a customer of Network Solutions around the same time. That's the thing. Network Solutions used to be a monopoly. They grew fast, really fast, in a short period of time. The customers paid the price. Champ and his team have worked hard to fix Network Solutions and they have been very effective. It was not an easy job. Up until a few years ago the company was a mess. Network Solutions used to be one of the worst companies with regard to customer service. They are now one of the best.
Brett We know of several web firms shopping for SEO/Ecomm services... Why Network Solutions?
Steph We think we found the right fit. We like the people. We like the vision. We like the fact that we will continue to build out the MonsterCommerce brand. We like that MonsterCommerce headquarters will remain in the St. Louis area. We like everyone will keep their jobs. This component was very important to Ryan and me. Our team has always taken good care of us. And we take care of them.
Brett NetSol is clearly diversifying its vision. How can MonsterCommerce *fit* into such an orgnization?
Steph Network Solutions primary focus is product and service offerings that help businesses create a presence on the web. The MonsterCommerce acquisition is the cornerstone of that vision. Together, we will be singularly focused on helping customers get online- easily and affordably.
Brett What advice do you offer struggling webmasters trying to make ends meet?
Steph Every situation is different. But I would recommend finding a partner who is equally passionate and twice as smart. Try to develop a recurring revenue business model. Build a business on multiple pillars- have several streams of revenue and don't rely on free traffic. Have a clear exit strategy and have fun. I cannot stress the passion part of the equation- "If you find a job you love you'll never have to work a day in your life". I am not sure who I quote there... but I like the statement.
Brett See other acquisitions this year?
Steph The Market is hot. Not surprisingly, we will see many mergers and acquisitions in 2006. Gobble gobble.
Brett Random question: Ebay stock, Google stock, Yahoo! stock, which are you buying?
Steph I own all three. But I'll reserve stock tips for the analysts. Wanna increase your shopping cart conversion? I can help you with that!
Brett Having such a huge client base, you must have seen quite a bit of diversity in the market place.
Steph (Laughing) We really do see it all. What's most impressive and promising is the ingenuity and work ethic of our clients. Much like WebmasterWorld members. Everyone works very hard. The majority of our clients build nice businesses for themselves.
Brett What is the size of an average client account?
Steph We have some large corporate type clients, but our bread and butter is the small to medium sized merchant- 1 - 100 employees.
Brett As I knew this was coming, since about October, I was fascinated about how you announced the news to your team? What was the reaction?
Steph We addressed our team in a quarterly company-wide meeting. I laid out our decision in a clear and matter a fact way and it was well-received. Ryan and I have grown this business from the top of his parent's garage into a 100-person firm over a few years time. Our people trust us to make the right decisions. We kept our team's interests in mind through the process. The news was well received. Network Solutions is very generous with our team. The acquisition offers many opportunities for members of our team.
Brett That's cool you will maintain the MonsterCommerce brand.
Steph Network Solutions will grow MonsterCommerce by placing a lot of money and emphasis behind the MonsterCommerce team and brand. This will provide additional resources and career opportunities for our team while expanding our company's product offerings. We plan on hiring nearly 200 new MonsterCommerce team members in 2006.
Brett Congratulations Steph. See you at the next WebmasterWorld conference.
Steph I wouldn't miss it for the world. Thanks to you and the WebmasterWorld community for your support and guidance over the years.