The New York Times has an article today about XO Communications, a company that most of you have never heard of. It gave me a little wave of nostalgia – XO is irrelevant now but I still have accounts there and it meant a lot to me in the old days.
The article goes through Carl Icahn’s emergence in 2003 as XO’s majority owner and his financial shenanigans with the company since then. It’s an interesting story, not untypical, where people with way too much money play games that seem to have nothing to do with the underlying business of the companies involved.
My interest is only because XO evolved from Concentric Networks, the company that was a big player in web hosting in the 90s. I registered bruceb.com with Concentric and set up many of my clients there. Prices were reasonable, the onscreen controls were better than other web hosting companies, and support was good.
None of those things have been true for a few years now. The onscreen controls are cluttered and buggy, service is occasionally erratic, and XO’s prices are no longer competitive. (My experiences with tech support by phone have been good, unlike, say, 1and1.com, but I’ve had to call for support too many times in the last few years.)
Moving a web site from one host to another is a chore, especially for businesses that have to be sure not to disrupt the flow of email, so bruceb.com is still hosted by XO, and a few of my clients are still there. This article reminds me that it’s time to move on – there’s no need to stay with a company that is sliding into bankruptcy and has no particular interest in its web hosting business.