Bytemark – probably the best hosting company in the world

I stumbled across the Deloitte Fast 50 and thought for a nanosecond, there’s a competition we should have entered!  By my reckoning Bytemark would ranked somewhere between 10th and 25th depending on my recollection of our first year revenue.  All that growth, and no recognition!  But I am sworn off awards, league tables and so on after our first and only experience of the "awards industry" a few years ago.  I’d eagerly put in a nomination for our company, and there was an expensive do in a London hotel which cost us £400 just for dinner.  I wasn’t going to go but the organiser hinted strongly that we might have won.  More fool me; no we hadn’t, but there were pricey tables to fill.  And then I thought, what benefit is anyone getting from this?  The winners get a certificate for their web site, the organisers might get a bit of press excitement for their publication if they can keep the awards going each year (this awards ceremony didn’t), but the rest of us?  Just losers paying thousands of pounds for dinner!

Some in the awards industry realised this economic imbalance; there are a few sites whose awards are not just annual but monthly, voted for by its readers, ah, but only if your company already pays for a listing on their listings site, e.g. webhostdir and others.  So you pay, you badger your customers to click a link, and your award is delivered within a week or two to be displayed on your web site forever.  Some have so many award categories and such a fast turnaround for new winners that you’re statistically guaranteeed an award within a few months of your "paid listing".  Wherever there’s an award, there’s a money trail to follow.  So I don’t know what Deloitte would gain from their Fast 50; they probably only need to sign one new (flattered, beaming) client a year from their list to pay for the whole do.

This awards-as-advertising idea culminates in the glorious insanity of the UK product of the year award with its ability to compare air freshener, hair straighteners and dog food on the same criteria, and £20000 price demanded of the selected winner.  Do they select another "winner" if you don’t pay?  Thankfully our satisfied, talkative customers are still our best advertising and I get to spend time developing our products for our customers to recommend instead of chasing gongs.