One of the largest hosts online, adult and mainstream, NationalNet defines class and business savy on the net. Sweet T's reputation as a business man and as a host is unparalleled. It's common knowledge that when he invites you out for the evening you drop everything because you're in for the night of your life.
Pictures complements of Fubar
- check it out for a photo archive all all webmaster events!
GFY Ambush Interview thread on Sweet T
What the fuck was the deal with not owning your proper URL name for NationalNet?
Remember, that I actually purchased NationalNet and it's assets back in 1998 so I had no control over the domain name then. It had been branded as National Internet Services, Inc and the URL was http://www.national-net.com. From the beginning I did not like it. I went on a search immediately to find a better domain name and lucked up and found national.net was owned by a guy right here in Metro Atlanta. I hit him up and he and I made a deal for me to buy that domain for $5,000.....what a steal! I was on the way out the door for a trip so I left it up to someone else who worked as a contractor for us to contact the guy and finalize the deal. When I got home the following week the domain was owned by National A-1 Advertising. I was crushed. I have been trying to buy it from them ever since and would still pay good money for that domain (hint, hint, nudge, nudge).
At that point I started looking for another alternative and found that http://www.nationalnet.com was owned by a guy in Canada who had a personal site on the domain. I approached him to purchase it and he said "Sure! Send me $100k US and it is yours". You can imagine what my answer was to that. I continued to hit him up over the years periodically and I never got him down to less than $50k. At that point, I gave up and decided to buy http://www.natnet.com from a company called National Health Food Networks for about $3k and branded to that domain as much as I could....but I always regretted not getting one of the other two domains....especially the first one.
Now skip forward to a few months ago when I am on this very board and heard that the domain http://www.nationalnet.com was purchased by a competitor. For whatever the reason, the previous owner decided to sell it on the open market for less than I would have paid him for it and it was sold before I knew anything about it. I must admit that when confronted with entire story the competitor very graciously offered to give me the domain and we worked out a mutually amicable swap for the domain.
So, as they say, all's well that ends well.
Why did you get into the limo business?
At one of the first January shows in Vegas, JoeE had chartered a limo bus for the week and I had a chance to ride on it. It was one of the first ones ever built by Krystal Coach and I fell in love with it. Prior to that, I had been chartering limos on a regular basis and for long stretches at the time. Many of you will remember the very first IA2000 and CyberNet shows in Florida where we had 3-4 stretch limos running people between hotels and events as a Courtesy Shuttle. That year, I looked at my P&L Statements and realized that we had spent more than $60k on Limo Rental and figured that it would be much better to just go buy a Limo Bus and hire our own drivers. So, we did...and that was the beginning of the NatNet Party Bus. We took the bus the way it came from the Limo company and added some special effects to it. Killer Sound, Light Show, Fog Machines, the works and people fell in love with it. In fact, it caught the attention of many limo companies both here in Atlanta and some of the places that we travel. A few years ago one of the limo companies here in Atlanta came to me and offered to charter out the NatNet Party Bus for proms in March, April and May (which are historically slow months for our big conventions). I agreed and less than 90 days later I had made enough money to pay for the operational costs of the party bus for the whole year! At that point, I knew that the Limo business was my next step. Skip ahead a year or so and we are now one of the best high-end limo companies in Atlanta. Our company is called Toxxic Transportation ( http://www.toxxictransportation.com ) and it specializes in large, custom party coaches. We have a fleet of Party Buses, Stretch H2 Hummers, Navigators, Excursions and we even own the QPartyBus ( http://www.allthehitsq100.com/lifestyles/qpartybus/ ) which is a Party Bus sposnored by the largest radio station in Atlanta.
What's the big deal about the 'chase'? Why do you like it so much?
hehehe.....getting personal, now are we?? People often see me at clubs/resturaunts/conventions with different girls all the time. I explain to them that I love "the chase". It is something that comes from deep inside me. I think it also has to do with my Sales background. I like to idenitfy the prospect, make the pitch and close the sale. If I don't close it today, I will try harder to close it tomorrow...then even harder the next day....until I finally close it.....but after it is closed, I want to turn it over to someone else to do the maintenance on the account and I immediately start looking for the next prospect. I don't know why. It is a terrible trait....but it is me. It is what makes me a terrible choice for someone to want to have a relationship with, I know....but it makes for some fun nights
What does it mean when you cross your right and left index fingers in an “X”?
LOL!!!! When we are partying in a crowded club we have hand signs that we use to communicate with each other....for example if I scratch the back of my head vigorously the people closest to me know that it is my "Bullshit Detector" going off. This lets everyone know that whoever is talking is lying through their teeth, IN MY OPINION (had to get that in, just in case . If I hold up the "x" sign, that you refer to above, that is my international sign for "NO DRAMA". Usually this is seen when some female has begun bringing me down with stories of some other bitch she is mad at, or her last boyfriend, or her dog that died, or some other hard luck story that I am not interested in hearing. Everyone around me knows that 5 minutes after seeing this sign I will quietly get up, walk out the door, get on the bus, and go somewhere FAR away from the one causing the drama. If you are smart you will already be there...if not, then you should consider yourself left.
It is also very important to note that no matter how important you are to me...no matter how much I truly and unconditionally love you....no matter how much money you spend with me or how long you have worked for or known me.....I WILL LEAVE YOUR ASS
Is it true you don’t look at porn? Did you ever own/run porn sites? How were you able to do this not looking at the porn?
I would not say that I *NEVER* look at porn. In all reality now I suspect that I look at porn less than once per month and then it is for business only. The one exception to that was maybe 6 months ago or so when I first met Raven Riley...I just had to go see what she was like...hell, I even JOINED her site!! LOL!!! Ron are you still hitting my credit card?????
Yes, I did run sites back in the day. Many people here will remember GeorgiaGirls and SweetT's Casting Couch from the old days. Back then, yes, I looked at it every day, all day. After a while, however, you kind of get immuned to it. I found myself seeing a hot looking young girl at the mall and instead of thinking about how I could "close the sale", I was only interested in how many joins she could do in a day and how well she could retain members. After a few years of that, I was done. Now, I spend my days looking at spreadsheets, P&L reports, and trade publications. Boring, huh? ;)
Do you still like mints?
Mints, or "mints"? hehehehe I can only assume that you are talking about mints in the metaphoric sense. So without getting into a lot of detail let me say that there was a time in my life where I was VERY indulgent.....there was very few things legal or illegal that I did not try but that was WAY before I got into this industry. In fact most people here have heard me say at one time or another "I will try anything twice....yes, twice.....because you never know about the first time". While I am not one to judge anyone or to point fingers I have chosen to be more selective on what vices I indulge in.....hell, be careful if you ever open my closet door, a whole BUNCH of skeltons will fall out and may hurt somebody.
How did you fall in love with GreyGoose and why Grapefruit juice?
In 1998 a real good friend of mine in Las Vegas, that just happens to be the largest liquor distributor in Vegas, told me about a new Vodka that was being released by Sidney Frank (the guy that brought us Jagermeister) and said I should try it. That day he and I had a single shot of Grey Goose Vodka that was poured from the 2nd bottle to ever enter the United States. Being a Vodka drinker, I was hooked by the taste but even more excited about his story.....
From Forbes 9/10/04: "With Jägermeister established, Frank, then 77, set out to create his fortune in vodka. His rationale: "A bottle of Absolut sells for $20 a bottle. Vodka is just water and alcohol, so if I sold a bottle for $30, the $10 difference is almost all profit." Frank was convinced rich folks would pay $15 for a martini or $10 for a cosmopolitan if the drinks were mixed with the world's best vodka."
It is the same thought process we have used for NatNet for so many years...people will pay a little more for the best. So, to that end we started having it at all of our parties, at our old hospitality suites, and even went so far as to have it shipped to Curacao for the shows there. In addition, we have been sending Grey Goose gift baskets as Christmas Gifts every year since about 1999.
As for the Grapefruit juice....remember that the correct answer is WHITE grapefruit juice. The reason is because I do not drink sweet drinks combined with Alcohol. It is the sugar in most cocktails that makes you wake up and wonder why your head feels like you were run over by a mack truck. This is why so many people have called me a spoiled brat because I would not accept pink grapefruit juice or sweet grapefruit juice....but always remember, there is a method to my madness
On other note, the drink of choice now is no longer Grey Goose and Grapefruit. I now drink a drink that we affectionately call a "Ken Lawson" because he invented it. It is Grey Goose mixed with Diet Sprite ZERO with just a TINY, TINY, TINY splash of Orange Juice. It is quite refreshing, actually
Talk about your houses and properties. Pics. Describe the NatNet suite at the Georgia Dome.
I am not like a bunch of people in this business that have houses all over the world. At this point, I own my primary residence which is located in South Atlanta. It is about 5,000 square feet and sits on about an acre and a half of property. On the property I have a gunite pool, a tennis court, and a two slip boat dock with my boats in it. The lake is only about 900 acres (small by most Georgia lakes) but it is plenty large enough for us to ski, knee board, wake board, intertube and just generally play on.
I have another home in the North Georgia Mountains that I had built about 5 years ago. It is more like a mountain cabin...an all wood structure on two floors with huge decks off the back of both floors overlooking the mountains. I actually rent that house out when I am not there...which is a good thing since I have only been there three times since I built it (and one of those was to check on the flooring that needed to be replaced after a water pipe burst on the Master Bedroom level). Several people that post on this board have actually been in that house more times than I have....but that is why I built it in the first place.
I have a condo in Buckhead, which is the party district of Atlanta. We use that place for when we are in town partying and don't want to go all the way back to the South Side at the end of the night. We also use it for when we have clients that want to come to town and visit so that they can stay somewhere better than a hotel.
Currently, I have plans on my desk for a 9800 Square Foot home that will be be my primary residence in a different part of Atlanta so that I can send my Son to the #1 School System in the country. I was going to send him to private school, but this system is better than most private schools and it is in a very good part of Metro Atlanta that has a world class Recreation Department with super organized sports and extra curricular activities. In addition, I am in the process of closing on a condo outside of Daytona Beach Florida that will be just like my house in the mountains, in that we will rent it out when we are not there. Lastly, I have often talked about buying a place in Vegas but everytime I get to town to look at places, I get side tracked...so maybe one day I will do that, too
As for pics, I will see what I can dig up later this week. I think I have an arial of my house and some pics of the mountain house while it was being built. Let me see what I can find.
What kind of car(s) do you own? Boats? Other toys? Pics
Again, I am not like a lot of people on this board with a ton of fancy cars. I am not one that likes sports cars (due mainly to my stature) and I have never been into the big imports (even though I have often thought of getting one). At this point, my personal car collection consists of a couple of Lincoln Navigators and a Dodge Pick Up Truck. Now, if you being to include company cars then you can throw in all of the Toxxic Vehicles and NatNet Vehicles but that is not what gives this crowd a woody, anyway. Sorry to disappoint.
As for boats, I have two at the house. A 21 foot ski boat and a 28 foot pontoon boat. We use the ski boat to play in and we use the pontoon boat to put a bunch of people on and go troll around the lake and get intoxicated. As I get older, I prefer the latter.
What are you RULES IN LIFE?
LOL! Well this has nothing to do with business just on life in general. SweetT's Four Golden Rules:
Rule #1: Have Fun. No matter what. Period.
Rule #2: No Regrets. Everything that has happened to you, good, bad or indifferent is what makes you YOU.
Rule #3: Deny it 'til the end. I don't care how much proof you have! LOL!!! (this one is more of a joke, but can work in many instances)
Rule #4: Tony will leave you ass. (Did we cover this already?) ;)
Talk about MikeAI, Marc De, and Lou.
Wow....now there are three guys that I think the world of...these guys are as good as gold in my opinion but I will try to touch on my relationship with each of them....
MikeAI: Above everyone else in this business, Michael is the single biggest reason that I am here. I was nothing more than a surfer back when Micheal had his first Amateur Sites out. I was a member of "Ravishing Renee" and "Hunter Something-or-another" and looked at this medium and thought that I could do it just as easily as anyone. I knew that getting girls to take their clothes off was easy, but this whole internet thing was way over my head. To that end I hooked up with a guy who later became known as "Silent Bob" who was my webmaster for many years...some of you know him. Once we built out first site, we knew that we needed traffic so we submitted to Amateur Index. We waited and waited and got no response. So we submitted again. Once again we waited to no avail. So, I decided, being the Newbie Idiot that I was, that I would send them an email and "give them a peice of my mind". I sent the email and about 2 days later I got a response from MikeAI. It simply said "Rookie". After a day or so of he and I going back and forth in email we realized that we were much more alike than we are different and from that rose a great friendship. I should also say that when he finally listed my sites on AI I was like a kid in a candy store. I remember sitting at my pc the first day clicking "Send/Recieve" on my email and getting 5 emails from DMR with new sign ups and then clicking it again in 20 seconds and getting 3 more....and 20 seconds later clicking again and getting 7 more. This went on for the whole week....I was dumbfounded.
As most of you know, since that time Michael and I have become dear friends. He and I teamed up later and started Club100, which was the industry's only succesful 100% Revenue Sharing Program. He is one of the best people I have ever met in this business and I will always consider him a true friend.
MarcDe: Now this story is great. I remember getting a call from Marc De over a weekend asking about hosting because he wanted to have a single day in which he was going to pay people $75 for each signup. I laughed my ass off. I asked him if he were crazy and he said he wasn't. I asked him if he was filing backruptcy the next week and he said he wasn't. I asked him if he was taking medications for his dillusions and he said he wasn't. He was convinced that he could build a brand identity by offering this type of promotion. I told him he was off his rocker but that I would happily take his money. Needless to say, Who is the sucker now? Marc has parlayed that into one of the biggest and best run enterprises in the adult internet. Now, as a vendor and as a friend let me say this one thing....do not let Marc's easy demeanor fool you....that guy is as fierce of a business man as I have ever met. He is feirce but fair. He will not hesitate to say or do anything that allows him to reach his ultimate goals...which by now I am pretty sure have to do with World Domination. He is, by far, one of...if not THE.... brightest minds in this industry....and I am proud to just have had a ring side seat to watch his rise to greatness.
Lou: Lou and I have known each other for many, many years from a distance. I remember having some very good discussions with Lou and his brother back in the old days on the YNOT Members Board. I remember watching KarupsPC grow into one of the most content-rich mega-sites in exsitance. I remember being in Detroit a number of years ago and going to this place called "Flight Club" and seeing a really cool, yellow Lambo parked out front with a few people gawking at it and thinking to myself that it must be the owners car....until I go in and see this corner booth full of hot girls with dozens and dozens of candles burning everywhere and Lou posted up in the middle. We briefly spoke but I went on about my business and thought to myself that he likes to do like we do. A year or so later we had the opportunity to treat Lou and his Senior Technical People to a trip to Atlanta to talk hosting and he and I ended up becoming great friends.
Lou runs his operation like I wish everyone did....I remember sitting in our original meeting and me telling him how we could solve his issues by building this elaborate cluster of servers to host all of his tours on that would make sure that his tours were always fast and converting so that he could make more money....this is the same converation that I have had with dozens upon dozens of the industry's largest players. Lou looked at me like I had three heads and asked..."Tony, that is nice...but where are the members areas?" I said that we cold probably put all of his members areas on one small cluster like we had done so many times before.....he laughed at me. Yes, laughed at me. By the time the conversation was over we had built Karups a solution that rivaled anything we had put together for anyone...for his members areas....the tours sat on regular servers. Lou's contention is, and always has been, that he concentrates more on his exsisting members than he does on attracting new ones. I was shocked, but pleased. With all of that said, it is nice to look around now and see more and more people taking that approach. It is a welcomed change in this industry and as far as I am concerned, Lou started the trend.
Chris took Moe. Are you Lary or Curly?
Oh, so this is how it is going to be, huh? I guess I will take Larry because I think he is the better of the two that are left.......and I bet I know who is going to end up being Curly!!
Being a high income, high profile guy who's public about his son; what would you do if he was kidnapped? Discuss this scenario in detail.
Wow...how do you answer that? Of course, I would rather not think about it. If I was ever faced with that issue I think I could sum up what I would do in one word....ANYTHING. I would give my life for his right this second without a moment to think about it. That little guy means more to me than anything you could ever imagine. Not to get to sappy on you, but I sometimes watch the video of when he was born...and sometimes I watch the one of the conception, but we can talk about that another time...anyway, back to the story....the camera was not allowed in the delivery room but my brother held the camera within an inch of the door and you can hear Jake cry for the first time on that video......to this day I will cry when I watch that tape and hear him cry for the first time.
I know I took a left turn on this question but I truly do not know what I would do in that situation. I would probably pay whatever the ransom was whether I had to beg, borrow or steal it...and then after I got him back safe and sound I would hunt down his kidnappers like the animals they are and hang them from the tallest tree by their feet and skin them the way we did deer when I was growing up....and once they begged me to kill them I would leave them hanging there. Is that scenario detailed enough? hehehe ;)
Talk about working at a funeral home.
OK, this is where we start talking about all the jobs we had when we were growing up, huh? Well, I had a TON of them...I never knew what I wanted to be so at any given time I may have had 2 or 3 part time jobs and one of them was working at a funeral home in my home town. I was an "Apprentice Embalmer and Funeral Director"...this basically meant that I did the shit jobs that the licensed guys did not want to do. There is little that I was not involved in from the accepting the original "Death Call", through the pick up of the body from the hospital/morgue/accident site or whereever it was, through the embalming process, through the presentation of the body, to the family visitation, to the digging and vault placement graveside, to the flower running, to the home conclusion and all the way through the last of the paperwork (Death Certificates, Insurance Forms, etc).
It was a learning experience as I learned to deal with people when they were at their WORST. If you can consistently deal with people who are in mourning and come out of it in good shape then you can handle anybody else in any other situation with ease. It is a great job to take if you want to learn how to read people but it is not a job that I would want to have for a long period of time. It is not shocking that the rate of alcoholism among funeral directors is quite high....you need something to pick you up after being around that much sorrow all day every day.
Why did you buy a NO booze nightclub?
A buddy of mine and I decided that we were going to open up a teen night club because we knew how to run a club way better than those thirty year old guys....that
was back when we were young and knew everything. The night club was WAY cooler than any Adult Night Club in town...the only two problems that we had were
these....the adults wanted to come but couldn't and the kids could come but didn't want to.
Is it true you didn't graduate?
Well....it is not true. I did graduate....HOWEVER, when I walked down the aisle and accepted my envelope from the Superintendent of Schools, my envelope was empty Yes, it was empty....because my Senior year (back when I knew everything) I missed more days than I was allowed to because I would rather sleep in than go to school. How many did I miss? Well, lets just say that we were on the Quarter System and we were allowed to miss 5 days, I think....I actually missed 25 days of this one english class and the bitch....oh, I mean teacher, was determined she was going to be a pain in my ass....so she made me come back to summer school after my graduation for 20 days. I didnt have to bring a pencil or do any work, I just had to show up. What a bitch she was!!! LOL!!
Discuss your career with basketball?
It was short. I was living in Albany, Georgia when it was announced that we were getting a Semi-Professional Basketball Team and I went and applied for and
accepted the position of Director of Corporate Sales. I would try to convince large companies that they should give me millions of dollars and in exchange I would
put their banners up at a stadium that would draw a few hundred people in a great night. Needless to say, I didn't last in that role...and neither did the team, for
what its worth.
Talk about your advertising agency and newspaper?
In another of my "past lives" I owned a "Shopper" in the little town near my home...a Shopper is a small newspaper that has nothing but classified ads and display ads in it that now-a-days you pick up at the C-store....back then we filled them with circulars and we mailed them to each and every home in the town....now you have to pick it up at the store when you are buying gas and cigarettes. It was a two person operation...I would sell, collect and run the business and I paid this lady to come to the office twice per week to lay out the paper. It wasn't too long when that "Shopper" started to fail, I thought it would be smart to start another one in another neighboring town to help the first one...so I lost twice as much money
Later I started an advertising ageny in my small town. Between my years in radio and now my short stint in publishing I was convinced that I could be a great advertising agency. As you may or may not know, an ad agency makes commissions on all of the advertising that the client does and my ad agency only had one problem...we had no clients. It didn't take too long to realize that this was probably a mistake.
Discuss how you came to own NationalNet?
As the story goes, I bought NatNet on my AMEX card.......
It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving of 1998 and I got a call from MikeFold asking me if my servers were working and I said they were. He asked me if I was hosted with National Internet and I said that I was not but that my servers were located in the same Data Center in Florida. He explained to me that National Internet was down to the world and that the rumor was that it was because they had not paid their providers invoices. Being the opportuniistic fuck that I am, I picked up the phone and called Tom at National Internet and he told me the whole story and even if he wanted to fedex them a check that because of the Holiday it would be Monday before they got it (some 5 days later) and by that time he would be completely out of business. So, about 45 minutes later I had purchased the company by putting all of his past due invoices on my AMEX card.
The real funny thing is that at that instant I was the proud new owner of a hosting company but I had never laid eyes on a server....I didn't even know what to think it would look like....now we have a whole Data Center full of them.
How many companies do you own now? What are they all?
I curently own 36 corporations but most of them are NOT revenue producing corporations. Only a handful of them actually have a revenue stream that comes from outside of our family of companies while the others operate for tax purposes only. The ones that matter are:
NationalNet - This, of course, is our hosting company. You may have heard of it...most people say it is the most expensive hosting money can buy...but damn well worth it. In actuality now-a-days we are alot more competitive on price than we once were and we still offer that legendary NatNet Support. I often joke that with our unparalleled buying power we can really beat any price we want to....we just don't want to all the time. Then we are just like everybody else.
NatNames - Is our Domain Registration arm. It is not a huge company, it was designed for some of our specfic customers to be able to buy their domains through us. NatNames quielty does registration for a quite a few domains and for some very large domain holders. At NatNames we get to know our clients personally and we watch over their domains just like we watch over their servers at NatNet. We still have that same 24x7x365 support from a HUMAN BEING that NatNet is known for and we charge a fair price.
WebSolutions of Georgia - This is our Web Development arm. At one time we had designers, programmers, DBA's etc and would build entire web enabled solutions for companies all over the world. Now this is not a focus for us but the company still exists.
Next Entertainment, Inc. - This is the company that owns many of the Adult Sites that we still own. Primarily, Club100 and all of the affiliated sites.
Toxxic Transportation - This is our luxury transportation company that I described above. Like everything else we do, our limo company is the best, high-end luxury transportation company in Atlanta and we charge a little more than most of the companies here in town for that extra luxury.
Melmo Properties - This is our Real Estate company. We buy properties and then turn around and lease them out to tennants both commercial and resiential. (Where did we come up with the name, you ask? Well, when Jake was just a baby and he liked watching Sesame Street on TV and Video he could not say "Elmo" so he called him "Melmo" and I wanted to name the Real Estate arm something that had more meaning than most people knew).
We have some new things, as well, that will be released in the very near future, but I do not want to let the proverbial cat out of the bag yet. I am sure there is more but that is all I can think of off the top of my head...it's early ;)
What did you do for a radio station as a young man?
I was working in radio and collecting a pay check with taxes taken out of it when I was 12 years old... of course, I got all of the taxes back in a refund at the years end but I was expecting my check to be for one amount and it was for another.
Anyway....I was in Junior High School and we went to our Music class and on this day there was a guy there from the local radio station. He spoke to our class about his job and what it encompassed and about careers in the industry. I was always intrigued by radio...when I was just a kid I had two steroes and I would "pretend" to be a DJ at home....when I told him this story he invited me and a few friends to come down and take a tour one day. We went there and within about 2 hours I was sitting in the DJ chair "running the board"..which means I was doing everything a DJ does except opening the microphone.
We all put our heads together that day and decided that we would start a Saturday Morning Radio show called "Kid's are DJ's too" and my friends and I would play some music and do some news stories targetted to the local kids. We covered sports and events at the schools and such and this little show just took off.
From there, I ended up working in radio for the next bunch of years. I was still in High School and working in radio full time. I have worked the morning drive show at one of the largest radio stations in the South East United States and help the position of Music Director and have worked in Sales. I decided a long time ago that it was not the type of industry that I wanted to rely on for the my long term income, but I have always stayd very close to the business.
Did you ever do door to door sales?
I worked for a company called Skinner's Furniture. Skinner's was a really old furniture store that sold furniture on an old fashioned "route". Every morning I would load up a truck full of home furnishings (couches, beds, tables, the works) and I would go door to door collecting monthly payments from my existing customers and trying to sell new stuff to new ones. The goal was to come back with a pocket full of money and empty truck
How many adult conventions do you attend a year? Which ones? Favorites? How many girls do you usually bring to an adult convention?
Let me answer these questions in reverse.
If I bring any girls to an adult convention it will be ONE. Only one time did I bring more than one girl to a convention and it was because these two girls shared a single brain so you could not take out one without the other or she would just sit there and drool or something I, personally, prefer to meet new girls when we travel around.
My favorite show is without a doubt the PHX show. The CCBill crew puts on one fantastic get together. It is professional, yet casual. It seems to attract the program owners and operators much more than most of the regional shows yet it still seems like you see everyone at this show. After that I would say that I love Fay's shows. Yes, there are many things that I wish were different about her shows, but the one thing you KNOW is that every decision that she makes is to try to make the show better for the attendees and the sponsors. She "gets it", imo. After that, I like both Curacao and the Santa Monica show (which is saying alot considering everyone knows that I *DESPISE* the Los Angeles area but Eric puts on a good show and Chris Mallick and his people put together such a great night life, what is not to love?)
As I general rule I attend about one show per month...or maybe a little less...10-12 per year.
What's the most amount of money you've ever spent on a one night stay in a hotel room?
Wow. Hmmmm. Is that just for the room or is that including room charges? I assume you are talking about just the room rate...I am drawing a blank. I like to stay in nice rooms so it is not unusual for me to pay between $1,000 and $3,000 for a hotel room and off the top of my head I can think of a couple of times that I was over $4,000 but I can think of the *most*. Let me get into the office and ask my accounting people to look it up and I will come back to this question.
Discuss some of your failed businesses. Talk about at least 3 of them in detail.
I hit on this above, explaining the two shoppers, the teen night club, and the ad agency and discussed their failures above. Needless to say I have known failure when it comes to business and in fact, I have had a failure or two since getting into this business. I believe that if you are not making mistakes you are not doing anything. If you do everything perfectly every time you are not pushing yourself and growing.
Talk about gambling. What's a "Well"? What's the appeal of Vegas to you?
I assume you meant to ask "What is a WHALE", right?
Those that know me well know that I am a man with little will power when it comes to my vices. When things first started going really well for me some friends were pushing me to join them in Vegas to gamble at stakes that we never could before....and I liked it For several years I would go to Vegas and gamble more and more and more. It finally got to the point to where I was not happy about a trip to Vegas unless I won or lost six figures. I woke up one day and said to myself "this is ridiculous" and gave it up. Now, I will play blackjack when we are all in CUR or somewhere like that where the table maximums are $500 per hand because I can't lose too much money at those stakes
A whale is something that is WAY more than me.....there are something like 7-8 whales left in the world. These are guys that will come to Vegas and will be willing to win or lose more than a million dollars on a single trip. I know that the #1 Whale is Australian Kerry Packer. There are several Asians on the list and the only American I can think of is Larry Flynt.
Vegas is like no other town on earth. It is the only, true 24x7 town in the world. I think the biggest reason that I like it is that I have made so many friends out there in the nightlife that it is like going home. It is funny, but it has been too many weeks since I have been there last and over the past 2-3 weeks I have been getting calls from Vegas friends wondering if I am OK.
Who really runs NationalNet?
I don't mind saying that it is a team. We have a group of people that have different specialties that each bring their specific talents to the mix. If I was forced to narrow that down more I would say that it is predominately Bill VanVorst (LBBV). Bill has always handled the day-to-day business of NatNet bringing me into the equation when he feels that it is necessary....he reminds me all the time that he is the reason that I can travel and do the things that many of you see me doing, and he is right. Having someone like him is essential to any business because he not only makes good decisions, he is the pinnacle of Customer Service and he preaches it to all that work for him. With all of that said, however, he still has a support team. Teiko handles all of the finances, Tomas handles all of the Support Personnel, Andrew heads up all of the special projects, and I am the General Manager of the Yelling at Vendors Department . We learned a very long time ago that this company is too big for it to come down to one person.
What is the difference between buying gigs of transfer and megabits of transit?
This is a tough question that takes a LONG answer....but whoever gave Sleazy this question knew that I had already written a long explanation and have saved it for many years. So in aneffort to conserve time, I am going to just paste it here.....remember, this this was written about 6 years ago and I didnt read over it today so there may have been some small changes since then.....but here goes.....
OK....let's see if I can make this easy enough to explain.....when buying hosting you can purchase the bandwidth portion in one of two ways, either TRANSFER or THROUGHPUT. Lets look at them individually....
Throughput is the actual total SIZE of the combined files that are sent by the server. Throughput is sold in Gigabytes (GB) and is an aggregate monthly total. So, for example, lets say you have a web page called THISPAGE.HTML and the actual page is 25k and on this page you have 3 graphic images that are 25k each then that is a total of 100k, right?? If 100,000 people come to that page over the course of a month then your Throughput would be calculated as 100kB X 100,000 = 10,000,000kB or 10GB. So for that month your THROUGHPUT would be 10GB. This does not take into account if all 100,000 people hit the server at the same time or were evenly spread out over the course of the month it is still 10GB of THROUGHPUT for the month.
Now....onto TRANSFER....but before we begin let me state that in *NO* circumstances can you mix Throughput and Transfer. It is physically impossible and you will see that in a second.
TRANSFER is measured in Megabits Per Second (Mbps) and measures how much information is traveling through the "pipe" at any given time. This is usually used for larger clients because in order to push more information through the pipe, you need a bigger pipe. I like to compare TRANSFER to Water in a series of water pipes. Imagine that your home PC has a water hose connected to it instead of a telephone line. The water hose is 1/2" and is connected to the side of your house where it meets a 2" PVC pipe and your house is connected to the Water Main, which is a 12" Pipe. In this example your water hose is your home telephone line and your house is your ISP and the Water Main is the backbones. It does not matter how hard you try you are only going to get 1/2" of water into your PC at any given time because the "pipe" is only a 1/2" water hose.
Now if I were going to sell you water BY THE GALLON, that would be called Throughput (see above)....or I can sell you a PIPE and just charge you for the amount of water that you push through the pipe at any given time...this is called TRANSFER. So for example, if I take a measurement right now and you are pushing 1" of water through the pipe and I look again in 5 minutes and you are pushing 1" still and I look again in 5 more minutes and you are pushing 1/2" and I look again in 5 more minutes and you are pushing 2" then how big of a pipe do you need to accommodate your traffic flow without any water being backed up like a funnel??? You would need a 2" pipe....but you are not using 2" all the time so why do you have to pay for a 2" pipe all the time?? That’s where the 95% comes in.
The 95th percentile (which is fast becoming the industry standard) simply means that the hosting company will look at your pipe every 5 minutes and take a reading and add that reading to a long list that they keep for an entire month. At the end of the month that lists will be 8640 readings (there are 12 5minute intervals in an hour, 24 hours a day for 30 days). They will then take that list and sort it from the biggest number to the smallest number so that your largest 5 minute reading is on the top and the second largest is next and the third largest is next and so on and so forth. The top 432 entries (5%) are discarded and the 433rd is considered your "95th Precentile" and that is the figure that you pay for. The 95th percentile was designed to help chop off wild peeks and just bill you for what you are sustaining on a regular basis.
As for what is more advantageous it totally depends on your situation and what is most important to you. With THROUGHPUT you have little control over the size of your connection so that means that if you are filling your connection up and it is getting backed up or bottle knecked like a funnel, you will never know it because you are only seeing what the server actually transferred...not what it couldn’t get around to because it was backed up. With transfer you should have access to your Hosting Companies graphs (usually MRTG graphs is the industry standard) and you can see your transfer yourself and if you see a flat line across the top of the graphs then you know that your hosting company doesn't have enough bandwidth to handle your needs (and this is much more common than one would think). ***IF YOU ARE BEING BILLED ON 95TH PERCENTILE MAKE SURE YOUR HOSTING COMPANY PROVIDES YOU WITH THOSE GRAPHS...if they refuse, they obviously have something to hide. If you have your own Sysadmin then you can actually install your own copy of MRTG on your server and double-check their graphs. (I can tell you that is what we do to our providers and we welcome people to put us through the same scrutiny).
What does MRTG mean and do you have an example of one so I can see what it looks like?
The Multi Router Traffic Grapher (MRTG) is a tool to monitor the traffic load on network-links. MRTG generates HTML pages containing GIF images, which provide a LIVE visual representation of this traffic. You can read up on it and even download and use it from: http://ee-staff.ethz.ch/~oetiker/we.../mrtg/mrtg.html On the site you can see examples of the graphs and how they work. WARNING: This site is written FOR GEEKS, BY GEEKS. Do not expect to understand it thoroughly unless you are a little bit of a geek, too! :-)
>Also, with 95 Percentile can I have my transfer rate limited to some upper limit so that I have a cap on what my bandwidth cost will be each month? I would worry that if I had 2 or 3 days with 10x my normal traffic I would have a heart attack when I get the bill.
In a word, YES, you can have your bandwidth CAPPED if you like, and if your Hosting Company will do it. With that said, and I can only speak for NationalNet, we do not allow our clients to cap their bandwidth and this is based on sound business practices. Example #1: You own a web site that is getting hammered with traffic, bandwidth goes UP....but so do REVENUES...and thus so do PROFITS! Example #2: You own a 3rd party feed that your clients are putting onto their web sites and one of them gets hammered with traffic and bandwidth goes up....if you are capped then it bottlenecks and surfers have to WAIT for the page to load until the people in line ahead of them are done...then your clients start canceling their service because their surfers are complaining that the pages never load...then you go out of business because you can't pay your bills. It’s a vicious cycle, I know.
>Also, you say this is becoming the industry standard. Is that the way that your providers are charging you now?
Yes, again! Because we are a major player in this arena we have been charged this way since the beginning (1997).
Some hosting providers will sell you bandwidth for a dedicated server based on Gigs of transfer, much like a shared server account, instead of the 95th percentile. Why would they do this, when dedicated servers take up almost 85-90% of their total bandwidth? Because, this usually means that THEY are capped by THEIR upstream providers at their request and don't have to worry about overages, as they are on a fixed rate. So...what is the problem with this? What happens when some site on another server gets hit with a password trader? They suck up all the bandwidth, and the surfers attempting to get to YOUR sites are left waiting in line, which translates to lost sales.
Traffic in our industry is very spiky...on any given day, it goes up and down in fairly wild extremes. For instance, our own MRTG graphs look like mountains and valleys. Joe surfer gets out of work, and the bandwidth goes up...and keeps going up until about midnite, when it starts going down. Password traders, special traffic deals, etc, all contribute to this "spikiness" (did I just make up a word?) Any host worth it's salt must make sure that they have lots of overhead to cover this spikiness, so that the actions of one or two webmasters does not affect everyone else.
It's very expensive for a good host to pay for all that "bandwidth overhead", but in the long run, it's well worth it.
Did losing Matt hurt your business?
Not in the least. Of course, it hurt me, personally, but not the business. It kind of goes back the theory of you dont know what you have until it is gone. Most of us thought Matt just came to work to draw a check (JUST KIDDING) but we really didnt realize how much he was taking care of until we had to take care of it without him. Was it noticeable to anyone outside of our offices, no...but we felt his departure inside.
On another note, Matt is like family so it was hard to see him go, but we were all excited about his new opportunity and we will do anything in our power to make sure that he is succesful. Make no mistake about it, I believe that his success is reflective of NatNet so we want to be sure he does well!! Besides, we all love Matt
Who do you look up to in the adult business? Down on?
There are a few people that I look up to in this business and I hate naming names because I will inevitably forget someone and feel awful about it....but the here are a few that just pop into my mind....
Chris Mallick - Chris is the kind of guy that could easily be my idol. He has a lot of qualities that I admire in a person in both his business and personal life. I have seen how he can conduct himself in both a board meeting and a bar and I see the way he lights up when he talks about his kids. These things mean so much to me and I love him for it.
Ron Cadwell - I love Ron because.....well.....umm....err...because he has a Black AMEX and likes to pick up the tab!! HAHAHAHA (just kidding) Seriously, Ron is as good of a guy as I know. Ron would give the shirt off of his back to anyone that he thought needed it...of course, knowing Ron he would just buy them a new LV shirt!!! Ron is a helluva business man and knows what his goals are and works to acheive them as hard as anyone I know. I have watched him build CCBill from a blip on the map into the power house it is today by just treating people right, doing what you say you are going to do, and making sure to be on the "up and up" in all dealings. That is a mouthful in this business.
Wow...I cant keep writing paragraphs here...but the things that impress me are people like Lou and his different views on running his sites, RogerV just walking away from a steady to gig to start something on his own in a market that some say is way over-saturated...and being succesful at it, Matt for the same reasons, MarcDe for being smart enough to jump into this business later than alot of people and take some risks and go on to domainte and entire industry...I could keep going forever....but I will change gears on you....I respect people like JFK who find a new avenue and become succesful with it....I have always had respect for the WEG guys who brought the whole "Join 4 Free" concept to the industry. If there is one thing you will find here is that I like "do-ers" and not followers. I like people who bring something new to the table....even though I tell people all the time that I have never had an original idea in my life, I still respect the hell out of those that have them.
As for who I look down on...there have been a few people but, of course, I am not going to name any names. They know who they are and so do I.
(NOTE: This question is going to bite me in the ass because even right now I can think about about 20 more people that I wish I had time to list)
Discuss drugs and alcohol and your usage? Thoughts on others' usage at shows and in their personal lives.
I think I hit on my personal demons in the earlier questions so I think that is enough said about that. As for my thoughts on others usage I think that it is their business and that they can do whatever they want and it will not affect me one way or the other. Personally, I know people who function BETTER after hitting a joint than they could ever without it. I know people who can do coke all night and then be in 100% shape for a board meeting the next day. So who am I to say what they should and should not do.....NOW.....WITH THAT SAID....I dont like seeing anyone to anything to jeapordize their business...drugs, alcohol, whatever. If eating too much chocolate makes you hyper and not able to sit through a meeting then I would skip the desert at lunch!!!
Tell us about your life in Jacksonville, Florida.
WOW...the funnest 18 months of my life. I was working at the #1 local radio station as the "side kick" to a dude named Hoyle Dempsey who owned the local market. I worked from 5am-9am on the air then did my production work (commercials and such) had any meetings that we needed to have for the next day and then went home around noon. I would sleep for 45 minutes and get up and do my personal errands and such and then come back home and sleep for 45 minutes. By this time it would be time for me to head to my night job where I was the DJ at a Night Club. I would get there around 9pm and work until about 1-2am then I would head home and mess around for a couple of hours then sleep for another 45 minutes and head back to work again. It sounds like a rough life, but it was really fun. Needless to say as a DJ on the morning show and then at night at one of the hottest clubs in town, there were very few days that I went home alone.
What was the best party you've ever been to and why?
Hmmm....within the industry or outside the industry. It's hard to say. Within the industry many people have told me that our original Foundation Room party at the top of the Mandalay Bay was one of the best parties that has ever been thrown in this industry. I, personally, like the dinners that Mallick and Lawson have..they are legendary. I like the Players Ball's and I like the GFY Opening parties. I guess best of all, though, I would have to say would be the small gatherings that just end up growing with no rhyme or reason. I remember the first year in Florida when we ended up at Howl at the Moon on a whim and they stayed open for us and people just started showing up. It was a blast. Good friends, good drinks, good times.
Like I have always said and many here have heard me say it....if I am with friends that I enjoy hanging out with, you could give me a cooler, a boom box and a KFC parking lot and I would have a blast!!!
How many women have you had sex with in your life? Most amount of women in one day. Most at one time. Any men?
Wow...can I plead the fifth? Can I plead ignorance? The honest answer is that I dont know. I would say more than some and less than others. At one time the most I have ever been with was three girls. The most in one day would be the same day that I had three, I had one earlier in the day for a total of 4. Let me stress for the record that having sex with three girls is NOT all it is cracked up to be. I have never had sex with any men other than having sex near them while we were sharing girls.
What's the worst thing that has ever happened to you in your life? Best? Second best?
Well, lets see here...the worst thing that happened to me I guess would be the loss of about $2.5MM of real money trying to help a company in this business a few years ago that ended up screwing me and a bunch of other people on this board. No, I am not going to mention any names.
The best thing that ever happened to me is an easy one...the birth of Jake. I would say the second best thing was that he woke up this morning....and tomorrow the second best thing will be that he woke up again...and the next and the next. I count my blessings everyday that he was born. It is hard to get people to understand the bond that we have but I guess just about any father or mother can say that.
What are your thoughts on the adult business today and the future of the biz? What's your role in it today and in the future. Any plans on selling out/retiring?
The adult business is still within a consolidation period. The industry is following a very well proven step-by-step process that every other major innovative indsutry has followed. I compare the internet to automotive, electronics, transportation, etc. If you look back in history you will see a precise pattern to them from their infancy. It is a big boom, a big bust, and then it is followed by steady, slow growth that is usually the time when the big get bigger and the small get consumed one way or the other. It is happening in the internet industry, the hosting industry and the adult internet industry. In addition to that, I see more and more regulation coming because we have not been able to regulate ourselves. It will not be enough to "ruin" the industry, but it will be enough to make people work harder to achieve the same.
I try to conduct myself as a leader in this industry but I have never tried to push my beliefs on others. I try to be someone that people can come to and ask questions and try to give straight answers. Sometimes it is not the answers that they want to hear, but it is what I believe. I caught a ton of flack the last time that I sat on a State of the Industry Panel and told everyone that it is my opinion that the affiliate model that we all know and love will be going away and sooner than most people want to think. Needless to say that was not what affiliates wanted to hear, but I backed it up with facts that are not arguable. Now, keep in mind that it is nothing more than an opinion, but I base it in facts.
As for my future plans, I am still buying and not interested in selling....now with that said, everything has a price so if someone comes and offers me that magic number I am outta here With that said, let me also add that my price is WAY more than anyone would ever pay me for it unless they just had more money than Carter has little liver pills.
My hope is that one day I will be able to retire and still maintain an interest in the company while the employees take the controlling interest. That would be a long time in the future, but it would be a true win-win for everyone. I want to be sure that my long term employees are well rewarded when I get to the point that I can stop coming to the office at all.
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