News / May 2008

Fostering the Next Generation of Geeks

The Little Geeks Foundation has an event coming up in the Toronto area in a couple of weeks and so we thought we’d bring this worthwhile cause to your attention.

Little Geeks works to enhance the lives of children by providing computers to the underprivileged families within the community. They hope to expand across Canada, and beyond in the future.

On June 12th, the Foundation will, thanks to the generous donations of individual and corporate sponsors, hold a special event here in Toronto to give refurbished computers, complete with Windows XP and Microsoft Office to one hundred families of underprivileged children–completely free of charge.

Thanks to our sales engineer Neville Thomas who brought this to our attention. He adds that you can visit the Little Geeks website if you are interested in volunteering as a “big geek” to repair or deliver computers to these kids and their families.

For those outside the Toronto area, there are similar organizations around that are more than happy to take older computers, clean them up and get them out into the homes of those who might not otherwise be able to afford one.

Over $19,000 raised for Cancer Research

The Inside Ride event we told you about a few weeks back was an absolute blast and we wanted to pass along a quick post thanking everyone for making it so wildly successful.

Between the staff at Tucows, and our friends down the street at ILoveRewards.com who also came out for the Ride, we raised over $19,000 for the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation. The extreme level of commitment to the cause was illustrated by Danny Rego, one of our application developers, who willingly had his head and beard shaved, (by Elliot, no less), in exchange for $1,000 in donations.

By the way, that’s Ken Schafer, VP Product Management and Marketing, Elliot Noss, President and CEO (on the bike) and Michael Cooperman, CFO, from left to right in the photo.

There are a bunch more pictures posted both at Picasa and on Flickr for those who want to have a look.

Ross Rader reports that the Foundation is in awe with what was accomplished and they are incredibly thankful for the generous donation.

Ross also passes along his thanks to everyone who either participated, donated or both.
He’s on his way to the airport on Friday and will be heading out on his epic 19-day ride across Canada beginning on Monday, June 2.

You can follow the progress of Ross and the rest of the riders at his blog. We’ll keep you posted here as well.

Tucows is very happy to provide key technical infrastructure for the ride, including email, domains, and web hosting.

For the cyclists in the Toronto area, you’ll be able to join the cross-Canada riders as they pass through Toronto for either a 20k or 100k route. More details can be found at the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride website.

Ross also reminded me that donations are still very welcome. There are tons of kids out there battling cancer that would be quite pleased with any contribution.

My hand hurts, I’ll cut off my arm

Yesterday a large webhosting company, Dreamhost, told the world that, while they would continue to provide email, their email service was not that great and suggested their customers should probably use Google’s Gmail instead.

They provided some fascinating data about email and support costs. My two favorite nuggets:

“Just over HALF of all the support requests we get are about email. Everything else we offer, combined, doesn‚Äôt add up to the amount of trouble, expense, use, and effort that goes into ‚Äúsimple‚Äù old email.”

and:

“If a web server with maybe 750 customer sites on it were to go down for even as long as five hours, we‚Äôd probably get two angry messages about it. But if email goes down for the same number of customers for just five minutes we‚Äôll have already received 50!”

And they are clear as to their view of quality:

“(email is) something the big free email providers like Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google can do better.”

This post was picked up on Slashdot where the discussion, not surprisingly, swung back and forth between “I am a sysadmin managing 20 domains and use Google Apps and Gmail and love it” and, “You should always run your own mail server for privacy purposes and, well, its just plain fun.”

Both the original Dreamhost blog post and the resulting Slashdot discussion completely missed the point. Luckily the comments on the Dreamhost blog did not. They were very clear.

Overwhelmingly commenters said that they often came to Dreamhost for hosted email, they did not trust or want to use Gmail for their business email and many of them would immediately leave if Dreamhost discontinued offering email.

Every service provider should be required to read the Dreamhost blog post and, more importantly, the comments.

Whether geeks like it or not, the vast majority of people want and need simple, reliable email that is easy to use AND they want a supplier who will help them use it. That means providing phone support as well as resources to make things simpler. Support data provides golden information for i) how a service can be improved and ii) what your customer’s needs and wants are. Guess what? People are willing to pay for this.

Contrast the Dreamhost view with that of Rackspace. Faced with, I suspect, the same or similar data, Rackspace responded by going out and buying Webmail.us.

It is amazing to me that because most service providers have chosen to give away email they take that as an existence proof that people do not or will not pay for a quality email experience. People will pay over $80/month for a single cup of coffee per day. People paid Geek Squad over $1 billion last year to “set up” their wireless routers. Every geek knows how hard (or not) that is! My ten-year-old son does just that for my mother-in-law. With regards to email specifically, RIM, the Blackberry people, have a market cap of over $75b JUST FROM PROVIDING A PORTION of peoples email needs!

People, especially small businesses, use email more than anything else on the Internet—much more than they use or need web hosting. Service providers are in the business of making the Internet easier and more effective—whether they like it or not.

Geeks who run service providers may find Gmail great. Human beings, not so much.

Tucows at mesh conference

A number of us at Tucows had the opportunity to attend the third mesh conference here in Toronto over the past two days. Mesh is billed as “Canada’s Web Conference” and provides a place for those working in the Internet industry to gather and connect, share ideas, and be inspired by some of the people using the Internet in exciting and innovative ways.

We had the opportunity to listen to Ethan Kaplan, head of technology for Warner Records talk about the challenges and opportunities that the music industry is facing, and about how they are trying to develop strategies and put in place technologies to help maintain and grow their business.

We also had the chance to hear about a number of Canadian technology success stories. Lane Merrifield, Executive Vice President Walt Disney Internet Group, and Co-founder and General Manager of the kids virtual world “Club Penguin” provided some excellent insights into how they built a very successful online world by putting the needs of the audience first (in this case kids and parents), and maintaining a solid focus on the vision they had for their service despite the naysayers who told them it couldn’t be done.

In various breakout sessions, we had the chance to learn more about things like online video production from the likes of Amber MacArthur and gained an insight into the challenges that startups and entrepreneurs face through the stories of people like Pownce’s Leah Culver, Ryan Carson of Carsonified, and Julia Johnston of mEgo.

All in all, it was an educational and rewarding two days of interaction with our peers, and conversation with some of the Internet’s current and future leaders.

As you’d expect, the online coverage of mesh was extensive. One of the best places to get a good sense of what was talked about is at ScribbleLive which was launched at mesh conference. The co-founders put together running commentary and play-by-play throughout the various sessions and keynotes.

Why You and Lowfat Lattes are Google’s Worst Nightmare

ISPCON Spring 2008 is underway in Chicago. This morning, Elliot Noss, CEO and President, Tucows, took to the stage to deliver his keynote address titled, “Why You and Lowfat Lattes are Google’s Worst Nightmare.”

David Snead from TheWHIR has a nice summary of what Elliot talked about today.

Snead writes, “What Elliot talked about, that strikes me as true, based on those of my clients who are successful, is that successful Internet businesses are high touch, and that people will pay to have their problems go away.”

For the benefit of those not in Chicago for ISPCON, or for those at the show who want to have another listen, we recorded the keynote it in its entirety.

If the player doesn’t work for you for whatever reason, or if you want to listen on your MP3 player, you can download an audio-only version instead.

ISP-Planet talks Email with Rohan Jayasekera

Recently, ISP-Planet’s Alex Goldman had a chat with Rohan Jayasekera, Director, Tucows Email Service.

In the article, posted today, Rohan explains our philosophy in creating and running the Tucows Email Service. He also points to some of the features and benefits that make our hosted email solution a sensible choice for service providers.

If you’re in Chicago this week for ISPCON Spring 2008, drop by booth 114 for a chat and to see the Tucows Email Service first hand. And you can hear more of what Rohan and other industry experts think about the future of email on Wednesday, May 14th, at 8:45 AM in Room 9. Rohan will be participating in a panel discussion, “Who Should Be Running Your Email?

Even if you’re not going to be in Chicago, you can still kick the tires ‚Äì you can get a Tucows Email Service demo account here.

Tucows Takes on The Inside Ride

Teams are being formed, challenges have been made and accepted. On May 22, 2008, The Inside Ride happens at Tucows Head Office in Toronto’s Liberty Village.

What is The Inside Ride?

It’s “Canada‚Äôs first indoor cycling challenge and fundraising event dedicated to raising monies in support of families and children with cancer.” The fundraising event works like this:

A whole bunch of state-of-the-art stationary racing bike trainers will be set up at Tucows. Then, teams of six riders will ride for 10 minutes, flat out, to see how much mileage they can cover. The individuals and teams with the highest distance, the most team spirit, and of course, the most money raised win rewards.

Get Involved

Are you in the Toronto area? We’d love to have you down to the Tucows offices to take part. Show us what your company is made of, and help us raise money for the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation.

And if you’re not close by, any donations to the cause are more than welcome.

In either case, contact Sherry Azim for more information. More information is available from The Inside Ride website.

Sears National Kids Cancer Ride

This event in support of Coast to Coast Against Cancer meshes very nicely with another cycling-related charity ride for Coast to Coast Against Cancer of more epic proportions. Ross Rader, who heads up our retail division, will be climbing onto his bike in just 24 days for a 19-day, 7,600 km trans-Canada ride from Vancouver to Halifax. Ross has been training incredibly hard over the last while and he’ll join a select group of riders for the cross-country trip.

Some quick math tells you that with 7,600 km (4,700 miles) to cover in 19 days, the riders will have to average 400 km (250 miles) per day.

Show your support for Ross through a donation to the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride

The real winners are the various charities from coast to coast in Canada dedicated to providing emotional, physical and medical support to children and teenagers living with, and beyond, cancer.

Ross pointed me to this video featuring Andy Brooks, an 18-year-old, blind cancer survivor who is taking part in the full cross-country ride himself:

Tucows Announces a $10 million Stock Buyback Program

TORONTO, May¬†7,¬†2008 – Tucows Inc. (TSX:TC, AMEX: TCX) today announced that its Board of Directors has approved a stock buyback program of up to $10 million for the repurchase of its common stock. Tucows has also filed a notice of intention with the Toronto Stock Exchange (“TSX”) to make a normal course issuer bid through the facilities of the TSX. Tucows will have the option to repurchase its shares of common stock either through the facilities of the TSX or the American Stock Exchange.

The notice filed with the TSX provides that Tucows may, during the twelve-month period commencing May 12, 2008, repurchase up to 6,361,769 shares of its common stock, which amount represents approximately 10% of the public float of Tucows. For purposes of any repurchases made on the TSX, Tucows may only purchase up to a maximum of 4,188 shares in any daily trading session, which number represents 25% of the average daily trading volume on the TSX over the six month period ending April 30, 2008, unless the block purchase exception is relied upon. As of May 7, 2008 there were 73,888,542 common shares outstanding. All shares purchased by Tucows under the normal course issuer bid will be cancelled.

The timing and exact number of common shares purchased will be at Tucows’ discretion and will depend on market conditions and may be suspended or discontinued at any time. Subject to applicable securities laws and stock exchange rules, all purchases will occur through the open market and may be in large block purchases. Tucows does not intend to purchase its shares from its management team or other insiders.

During Tucows’ previous stock buyback program which ended on February 15, 2008, Tucows repurchased 2,616,600 common shares.

NO STOCK EXCHANGE, SECURITIES COMMISSION OR OTHER REGULATORY AUTHORITY HAS APPROVED OR DISAPPROVED THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN.

About Tucows

Tucows provides Internet services for web hosting companies and ISPs. Through its global network of over 9,000 service providers it provides millions of email boxes and manages over eight million domains. Tucows is an accredited registrar with ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Tucows holds a domain name portfolio of approximately 150,000 domain names that are available for sale, monetized through advertising and support our wholesale Personal Names Service. Our Retail division sells Tucows services to consumers and small business owners through Domain Direct, ItsYourDomain.com and NetIdentity. Tucows.com remains one of the most popular software download sites on the Internet. For more information please visit: http://tucowsinc.com.

This release may contain forward-looking statements, including the timing and total number of shares to be purchased under the share buyback program, which are based on Tucows Inc.’s operations, estimates, forecasts and projections. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to important risks, uncertainties and assumptions concerning future conditions that may ultimately prove to be inaccurate or differ materially from actual future events or results. A number of important factors could cause actual outcomes and results to differ materially from those expressed in these forward-looking statements. Consequently, investors should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which are based on Tucows Inc.’s current expectations, estimates, projections, beliefs and assumptions. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this release and are based upon the information available to Tucows Inc. at this time. Tucows Inc. disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Contact:
Leona Hobbs
Director of Communications
Tucows Inc.
(416) 538-5450
lhobbs@tucows.com

Tucows gets out of Shared Webhosting

Many of you know me as one of the original OpenSRS guys, but more recently, I’ve been involved in running Tucows retail services – Domain Direct, NetIdentity and ItsYourDomain. As you may have already read, effective today, we are getting out of the hosting business. You can read the full press release in our Media Archive.

Why are we doing this and what does it have to do with you?

From a retail perspective, we believe that it is extremely important for us to be able to provide world-class quality for all of the services we offer. By examining the market, seeking feedback from our end users, and discussing our strengths and weaknesses internally, one thing became clear. In order to provide world-class quality for all of the services we offer, we must simplify our service offerings.

Many of our competitors attempt to provide a “one-stop internet services shopping experience”. We call this “the Walmart way”. We believe that we have a much higher chance at succeeding by doing very few things extremely well for our clients. You could call this “the boutique approach”. Our goal is to help our customers use their domain names and email addresses with the great services that other companies are already providing. In other words, rather than trying to compete with companies like Hostopia to offer better hosting services than they do, we are going to focus on making sure that our products work better with their great services than any other provider does.

Tucows Resellers also benefit from this increased focus. My retail team spends a lot of time with the OpenSRS and Tucows Email teams to ensure that they understand where their services are succeeding and failing from a reseller perspective. Being in the building provides us with a great opportunity to improve these services for the benefit of all Tucows resellers. With the benefit of our increased focus, we will also be able to invest more time working specifically on translating everything that we are learning about how to sell domain names and email in a competitive market into programs that Tucows resellers will be able to take advantage of. These programs could take the form of new code, new services and new marketing programs, depending on what works best in each case.

I’m very pleased with this development as I really believe it will be of tremendous benefit to all of Tucows customers – retail and resale. Of course, if you have any questions about the specifics of the transaction, please feel free to leave us a comment and either myself, or someone from the team will respond.

And of course, we will be notifying all affected customers about this change and how it will affect their hosting service – if at all. Many of our shared hosting clients are already hosted with Hostopia, so the changes should be minimal for the vast majority.

Hostopia to Acquire Certain Shared Hosting Customer Assets of Tucows Retail Service Group

Drives incremental growth for Hostopia as Tucows focuses its retail operations on email and online identity

TORONTO — May 6, 2008 — Tucows Inc. (AMEX: TCX, TSX: TC) and Hostopia.com, Inc. (TSX: H) yesterday signed a definitive agreement for Hostopia to purchase certain of Tucows’ shared hosting customer assets including approximately 14,000 Domain Direct, NetIdentity and ItsYourDomain.com (IYD) customer accounts.

The full text of the news release is available at our media site.

Hostopia to Acquire Certain Shared Hosting Customer Assets of Tucows Retail Service Group

Drives incremental growth for Hostopia as Tucows focuses its retail operations on email and online identity

TORONTO — May 6, 2008 — Tucows Inc. (AMEX: TCX, TSX: TC) and Hostopia.com, Inc. (TSX: H) yesterday signed a definitive agreement for Hostopia to purchase certain of Tucows’ shared hosting customer assets including approximately 14,000 Domain Direct, NetIdentity and ItsYourDomain.com (IYD) customer accounts.

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Big Changes Coming for .CA WHOIS

As we pointed out last week, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) which operates the .ca registry, is about to introduce some big changes to its existing WHOIS policies. The changes are largely associated with what information WHOIS databases, registrars and resellers are able to disclose about registrants.

These upcoming changes will have a pretty significant impact on some of our .CA policies. Specifically:
Our public WHOIS database, like CIRA’s, will protect registrant information by default. All personal information about individual registrants will be kept private, including the name of the Registrant and the name and any contact information.

  • Registrants have the ability to disable WHOIS privacy from the CIRA registrant interface if they choose to do so. It is enabled by default.
  • Corporations and organizations will have the option to request similar WHOIS protection in special circumstances. It is disabled by default.
  • Interested third parties will still be able to contact the registrant by using a contact form available on CIRA‚Äôs website (similar to other WHOIS privacy services).
  • Resellers will be required to keep registrant information confidential, revealing personal information via telephone or otherwise under very specific circumstances only.

These changes will come into effect on June 10. CIRA will begin messaging registrants about the upcoming changes this week.

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