Builders of Dreams

Happy 16th, DreamHost!

It’s our birthday month! September 22 marks our 16th year as a hosting service. We’re lucky to have made it this far and we owe it all to you – our awesome customers and our awesome team that’s passionate about the promise of the web. I hope you’ll indulge me a little as I look back at how we started, and share what has driven us to where we are today.

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Check out  this graph showing Internet adoption from June 1995 until today. The red arrow points to when we started DreamHost. The web was just starting to explode.

Today, you know us as a hosting company, but DreamHost wasn’t actually our first creation. Our first venture was Dreambook, a guest book service that was born back in the Geocities days – when websites were mostly static html with an occasional cgi script.

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Before blogs with built-in comments, guest books were ways people left short messages – kind of like comments for your whole website. We kickstarted Dreambook with ads on our old friend, Webring, and grew to about half a million users. That’s small peanuts today, but it was notable back then. Guestbooks helped people connect on the web, and that idea has guided us the whole way.

When we built DreamHost, we took the concept of connecting people all the way to its core. By providing accessible and easy-to-use hosting, we could help all kinds of people learn to code and build the web. Today we’re still amazed by all the creative things our customers do on DreamHost. That’s what keeps this business fun and interesting for us!

Recently, when I was thinking about how to illustrate this point, I remembered a great children’s book I read to my kids.. It’s called The Big Orange Splot.

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It’s about a guy named Mr. Plumbean and his neighbors. They live on a street where all the houses are the same. It’s a “neat street,” and they like it that way. One day, a bird drops a can of orange paint on Mr. Plumbean’s house. He doesn’t repaint it right away, so his neighbors start to insist that he do so. Mr. Plumbean then paints his house wildly, with different colors and a lion, a steam shovel, and other fun things. The neighbors are not happy, and they try to talk to him. After each neighbor talks to him, they then change their own houses. After several days, there’s a big ship, a hot air balloon, a castle and other wacky things in place of where the neat row of matching houses once was. A visitor comes to the street and says, “This is not a neat street.” In reply, Mr. Plumbean and his neighbors just say:

Our street is us and we are it.  Our street is where we like to be, and it looks like all our dreams.

That really resonates with us here at DreamHost. We don’t like neat streets. The web is amazing because it’s a messy, noisy mix of everything under the sun! It’s full of dreams being built – dreams of all shapes and sizes, colors and patterns, visions and goals.And that’s why we love seeing what you come up with, and how you use DreamHost to bring your ideas online.

It’s been 16 years now, but this is still just the beginning of what the web will bring. It’s our job to keep bringing you the features and services you need to fuel YOUR development. Let us know in the comments what you’d like to see from us next!

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