This is it. The blog post I wasn’t sure I’d ever write. Partly because I knew it’d have to be about me and I’m a pretty private person. But also because I wasn’t sure this would ever happen without some difficult choices. Sometimes you have to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong. So here it goes…
I'm Brian Stucki. I’ve been running Macminicolo for over ten years. For half that time, I ran the whole thing alone. Later, Justin joined me for data center duties. Running a hosting company is a mixed bag opportunity. It’s exciting because you get to be involved with cutting edge technology. In a niche like Mac hosting and colocation, the customers are always intelligent and working with them lets me be a small part of what they’re building. I’ve tried very hard to do good, honest work and do right for our customers and the community. For every email I’ve received confirming the death of the Mac mini, I’ve also received emails from people who put a Mac mini into our data center and it saved their business.
The other side of hosting company ownership is constant connection to the online world, middle of the night support tickets, and a nagging worry that tech will change and you’ll be out of business. I call it the SBO ulcer. (I am not a doctor but I’m guessing many of you feel it too.) I remember listening to a podcast about when Instapaper was sold and had a lot of the conversation resonate with me.
Over the last decade, the business has been very successful. It has grown well financially but just as important to me is that it also has a great reputation. Macminicolo is the name for Mac hosting and Mac mini information. I’m very proud of this position and I’m happy that people have this view of Macminicolo. With a good name like ours, I receive an offer to buy the company about 5 times a year. I’ve always turned them down because I wasn’t interested in changing things, or the company was undervalued, or just because the new owners would have done a horrible job in running this niche service. Often, they didn’t understand what made it special and they just see the dollar signs. That would have hurt me to sell, and would have left my customers/friends in a bad place. No thanks.
So what has changed?
In short, I’ve decided to sell ownership of Macminicolo and merge it with another company. I will stay on as President of Macminicolo and also serve as a Vice President of the parent company, MacStadium.
Now, I could just announce this with no explanation and be done with it. I could also write one of those generic acquisition posts focused on sunsets and brands and blah. Instead, I’ll be forthright and real like I’ve always tried to be with customers.
Why did you sell the company?
For me, it boils down to three reasons:
Here is my family. (How’s that for keeping it personal?) My wife and kids are the most important thing in the world to me. This sale has helped me put a little money away for a rainy day and relieved some dad stresses like making sure my girls can go to college and that I won’t have to be a burden to my boys when I’m old and senile. This sale also lets me see more of them now. For ten years, we haven’t been able to take a truly disconnected vacation. I’ve always monitored and maintained the data center even from afar. Frankly, kids deserve to be with their dad in the wilderness where nothing can interrupt them. Merging my company allows me to do that but still have plenty of eyes and hands at the data center to keep good service. This, by far, is my main reason for merging.
Second, I think we’re on the cusp of a major change in how tech companies host their products. Companies that offer online services are looking for more control of their data and offerings. Startups and businesses are moving away from huge, faceless hosting companies so they can control their own data and have more direct hands on servers, etc. I want to be sure that they can look at Mac hosting options that are large enough to be viable, but personal enough to be a good partner. While I think we’re good at the latter, I can’t offer the former on my own. We'll still be the best at working with the individual colo customer. But now with this merger, we have all sorts of additional options. Need 500 OS X VMs running across dozens of Mac Pros? No problem. Want hundred of Mac minis, Pros and blades in place tomorrow to use for your company? Sure. Want to build a personal ACN in three diverse locations to deliver your podcast episodes? Coming right up.
Finally, I found a good company with good people and a long-term plan. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had a number of offers over the years. Four months ago, I got a call from Greg, the CEO at MacStadium. Since that time, we’ve had many conversations about what could and should take place. When it comes to Macs in the data center, they’re doing some great things already. They have a great mix of knowledge and also a willingness to learn and grow. That’s rare.
MacStadium is based in Georgia. They recently expanded to Ireland as well. They were looking to offer another data center on the West coast and that’s part of what led them to me. Rather than start from scratch, Macminicolo gives them immediate space in this part of the United States and hundreds of great customers already on board. They’ve committed some significant investment to make this location even more robust. As mentioned earlier, I’ve also committed to take a major role at the company. This will allow me to do the things I enjoy (i.e., promote the Mac as a hosting option, teach people how to use OS X in the data center, be a known friend for customers) but step away from the things I’d like more help with (i.e., middle of the night support tickets, invoicing, network expansions.)
I can’t explain just how much I had to think about this decision. I’ve put a lot of time, energy and attention into building Macminicolo. In the last few months I have performed the calculations, said the prayers, applied the SBO Ulcer test and projected the best and worst case scenarios. I ran the options by successful people I know and trust. Everything pointed to making this decision and I’m excited for it.