Member Spotlight #4
Name: Michael Phillips
Computer(s): Many Win2k (and Tivo) boxes sprinkled around the house, all tied into one central brain. I used to run a linux server at home to demonstrate how elite my skills were, but I broke it. You may draw your own conclusions about my skills from that revelation.
How long have you been employed by PowWeb?
I reached the two year mark a few days ago.
What's your primary job with PowWeb?
I am the Operations Manager. Here at PowWeb that means that I oversee the day to day operations of different departments; support, development, etc. In the two years I've been here I've also done support, billing and web development as well, so I feel like I know the joint inside out.
I know you've been in this industry for awhile - how long exactly?
Eight or nine years. First web site went up in '95, then I got my foot in the door doing tech support for an HTML editor software company in New Jersey. I was in Los Angeles, so I enjoyed the perks of a remote staff position - something you know a little about, right Tom?
Rate yourself on your knowledge of the web hosting industry when you first came into this business compared to today.
When I first started working in the industry my knowledge pretty much consisted of knowing how to upload my sites to best.com without breaking them (most of the time). But back then, that was about as much knowledge as anyone had. We were all figuring it out together.
I used my support experience for the software company to wrangle a job at Affinity Hosting here in town, and that is where my real education began. The first week there I found myself not only answering support calls and email, but also sitting in the server room for a few hours a day (an ice cold glorified walk-in closet) setting up new accounts on NT servers and wondering what the hell I'd gotten myself into. I'd worked my way up to support department manager by the time the company was sold in late 1999.
I took a couple of years off after the sale of Affinity, promptly forgot everything I'd learned, and eventually wound up here at PowWeb, where they took on the task of re-enlightening me. It's been great. The company was already successful when I came aboard, but not so big that you couldn't learn everything that was going on.
I'm interested in the hosting industry on the technical level, as a business and as a phenomenon, so I think I'm pretty up on what's happening. Many people predicted the "commodification" (is that a word?) of hosting years ago, and that's where we are now. Your internet connection at home, your web site, your email are now commodities rather than marvelously geeky secret toys. Your grandmother has email and sends you links to flash cartoons and political blogs, so get over it. We aren't cutting edge anymore.
Outside of web hosting industry, what are your other hobbies?
I don't have time for any hobbies, man, I work for a web hosting company! Outside of work I write, make weird paintings using ancient Chinese calligraphy methods, watch my girlfriend paint, watch movies and (way too many) shows on Tivo, play ball with my dog and hunt down rare Charles Bukowski publications.
If you didn't work in this industry, what would you be doing?
Writing, making weird paintings, watching my girlfriend paint, watching movies and (way too many) shows on Tivo, playing ball with my dog and hunting down rare Charles Bukowski publications. To earn a living I would probably be a printer, which is what I did for 15 years before I conned my way into this line of work.
If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Hmm, there's no one I'd like to meet. I make it point not to meet people I admire. The people in high places who I have had the pleasure of meeting have left me unimpressed.
If there was one thing you could do tomorrow with no repercussions, what would it be?
Get in the old Isuzu Trooper with my girl and my dog and start driving. Go wherever we want to go, stop when we feel like it, and come back home when the time seems right.
Anything else you'd like to say?
I'd like to thank you on behalf of myself and the group, and I hope we passed the audition!
(Bonus "old geezer points" if you get that reference.)
Also, I read once that Steve Jobs said every company should have a resident poet, and I think he's right. Almost everyone I've worked with in this industry has been a creative person, both inside and outside of the office. That kind of creative thinking and open-mindedness goes a long way toward making a run-of-the-mill company a really great company.