Some Changes at Macminicolo

Note: This is a post from my company blog as I sold my business and announced it to the customers.

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 partof 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 toa 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. Now with this merger, we have all sorts of 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 the 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 Unites 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.)

Conclusion

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 it by successful people I know and trust. Everything pointed to making this decision and I’m excited to see what we can build.

An observation from President Packer’s funeral

One of my favorite moments from the funeral of President Packer didn’t make the final video release. I thought I’d share it here since I took a screenshot during the live video.

After the casket was loaded in the car in the background, Sister Packer and the family turned and entered the cars seen at the bottom of this picture. As the remaining members of the Quorum exited the tabernacle and saw they were not yet loaded, they stopped and waited for the family to enter the cars rather than walk around and enter their own cars waiting in the cortege line. Her husband is gone, but Donna Packer holds the complete love and reverence from the Quorum. 

 

I love this photo for another reason that was more apparent when seeing it live. When Elder Nelson saw they were not yet loaded, he stopped. His brethren in the quorum didn’t look around to see why nor ask each other the reason for the stopping. Instead, they saw that Elder Nelson, the senior member and probable President of the Quorum stopped and they instantly followed his lead. After 21 years of following President Packer as Acting President and President of the Quorum, the mantle has moved and it is recognized.

The mix of strength and humility in this group inspires me so much.

James Taylor Life Highlights

My top 5 James Taylor moments:

  1.  Meeting him in Massachusetts
  2. My first JT concert in 1994 when Grandma Judy gave me her ticket
  3.  My first time hearing “You Can Close Your Eyes”
  4. A thrift store in Petaluma, CA where we did service hours during my mission. The manager was a JT fan and had him playing on the store speakers all day. It had been over a year since i heard his songs.
  5. This morning, seeing this clip for the first time:

My Little Shadow Named Cole

I always looked forward to the day that I would have a son old enough to play with me. Cole has hit that age.

During the day, if Cole hears my office door open, his ears perk up. He hops to his feet and comes running down the hallway. Today, I went out of the office to get a bottle of water and when I came back Cole was sitting at my desk, “working like dad.”

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Every night, he’ll sit on my lap as we watch the Red Sox games. When I do a home run dance, he does a home run dance.

On Saturdays, when we are doing our outside work, Cole insists on having his own tools and shovels. I love to have the little helper, even when he gets in the way. Last Saturday, we were fixing our sprinkler piping and each time the water would bubble up the PVC , Cole would be there to clear it away.

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Of course, the benefit of of a Cole shadow is it reminds me that I’m an example to Cole and Will. What dad does, so also does these boys. So in addition to WWJD, my conscious recites WWCC. (What Would Cole Copy)

Keeping Our House In Sync

For the last few weeks, Candace and I have been testing an iPhone app that helps us get all kinds of things done. It has really been working well so I thought I’d share it with others.

There is a free service online called Zenbe Lists. It has a real nice interface for keeping different lists of to-dos, or anything else you need to list out. They also have a really nice iPhone application. So, here is our setup and how it works for us.

First, I created an account online with Zenbe Lists.

Then, I purchased the $2.99 Zenbe iPhone application (iTunes link) and downloaded it to my iPhone and Candace’s iPhone. Once installed, I entered the same login credentials on both of our phones.

So now, I can create a list, on my iPhone and it syncs automatically to the online site. Then, when Candace starts the app up again, my lists and items will sync to her phone. And of course this works from her phone to mine as well. Here is an example of our lists.

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As you can see, if I need something at Target or from the grocery store, I can just add it here as I think of it. Then, when Candace starts up the app at the store, everything will sync and she’ll see all of my items along with the ones that she has listed.

This works for more than shopping lists. For instance, while we were prepping for our trip last week, we made a list called, “Todos for Trip” throughout the week. Then, we just made sure everything was checked off before we left. This saves the feeling of “I know I forgot something.” as you pull out of the driveway.

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So, it’s a pretty basic setup, but I thought I’d share it in case any other households are looking to keep in sync. There’s just one rule. Wives are not allowed to make a list called, “Projects To Do Around The House.”

Boyhood Dream Fulfilled

When I was younger, my favorite book was Where the Wild Things Are. I read it, and had my parents read it to me, all the time.

So, I was happy to see that they are going to make a movie based on the book. There have been a few articles on what to expect, but just recently they released a trailer. (embedded below, nice HD copies here)

Just seeing those different characters makes me feel like a boy again. I can’t wait to see this movie. It’s supposed to be released in October.

The Stucki Boys

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Many of you know already, but Candace had our second son on Tuesday. His name is Will and weighs in at 9lbs and 7oz.

Cole went to meet his brother last night so here is the obligatory hospital photo. So far, Cole is glad to have “Baby Wiw” and just wants to hold him and pat his face.

Candace is doing well after the planned c-section. She should be able to come today. And that’s a good thing because we miss mom.

Playing With iLife 09 and Faces

One of the best things about owning a Mac is the iLife suite that comes free with all new Macs. It is a collection of great applications for videos, photos, making websites, etc.

One of the most popular applications in iLife is iPhoto. It is an application to organize, clean up , and publish your photos.

The 2009 version of iPhoto was announced a few weeks ago and just shipped yesterday. Among the new features is a technology called “Faces.” With it, you can add a name to someone in a photo, and then iLife will scan all the rest of your photos and try to find that person in any of them. It’s a very simple way to organize your pictures.

I installed iLife 09 last night on my iMac. I thought I’d show some quick screenshots of how cool this technology is in iPhoto.

First, you open up iPhoto and so you can see all your different film rolls.

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Then, choose one of the rolls and a photo in the roll. Here I’ve chosen Cole on a trolley car in San Francisco.

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Once you’ve picked a photo, the software will help you find prominent faces in the picture. You can then tag the people. Here I’ve added Cole.

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Once you’ve tagged the person, you can go to the “Faces” part of the application. iPhoto will then scan all the photos where it believes Cole is pictured. You’ll then be asked to confirm them. This step is amazingly accurate. In the hundreds of pictures of Cole, there were just a few photos of other fat little baby faces. If you choose to work with an adult in the pictures, it is quite a bit more accurate because features are usually more distinctive.

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Once done, you’ll see that iPhoto will organize your photos by who is in them. Very neat.

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The whole iLife suite has a ton of new features, but I thought this one was just too cool not to share.