Logo from about 2008
|Industry||Internet, Domain Registrar, Web hosting, SSL Certificate, Cloud computing, Virtual private server|
|Headquarters||Canary Wharf, London|
|Key people||Jeff Hunsaker, Phil Male, Adam Kilgour, John Morris|
|Parent||Lloyds Development Capital|
UK2 Group is a British-based web hosting service company. Some of the many brands managed by UK2 Group include UK2.Net, midPhase.com, 100TB.com, ANHosting, Comcure, Dotable, Resell.biz, WestHost, VPNHQ, VPS.NET, and Virtual Internet. UK2 Group has offices in London and Utah, and operations in other countries.
Based in the United Kingdom (UK), Bo Bendtsen started UK2 Group's first brand, UK2.Net, in October 1998. UK2.Net was an Internet service provider that started out by selling domain names in the UK, acquiring a reputation for low cost without much service. Initially, the names were resold through the Nominet UK organization as its domain name registry. Although headquartered in London, domain registration is through its Cloud Group Limited subsidiary based in Gibraltar. An estimated 435,000 users in 2000 made it the largest web hosting company in the UK. Many years later in 2012 it was still advertising
.co.uk domain names for £1 a year. Ditlev Bredahl served as chief executive from 2006 through 2011. Bendtsen and Bredahl both came from Denmark.
Starting in 2007, UK2 acquired various smaller companies, including several outside the UK. They expanded to offer Web hosting, dedicated servers, reseller hosting, ecommerce packages and Microsoft Exchange email hosting. In October 2007, it acquired the domains of Stargate Holdings Corporation, which included US2.Net and Resell.biz Stargate first became accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers as a domain name registrar in September 1999. This allowed UK2 to assign domain names directly.
In December 2007, UK2 acquired US Web hosting provider midPhase Services. Founded in 2003, midPhase had offices in Providence, Utah. In July 2008, Chicago-based ServerCentral sold the WingSix brand to the UK2 Group. In October 2008, UK2 acquired Dotable.com which was based in Australia.
In November 2008, UK2 acquired WestHost, which was based in Utah, with offices in Logan and data center in Salt Lake City. It had been founded also in 1998, and listed as one of the 100 fastest growing companies in Utah in 2004. WestHost uses a data center that has SAS 70 Type II certification. On 20 February 2010, a fire suppression system accidentally released Inergen into the WestHost data center during a yearly test. The blast damaged some server compnents as well as some backups, resulting in service outages of up to six days. UK2 staff admitted editing the Wikipedia article on Inergen to say it could cause such damage. By March 2010, Jeff Hunsaker (by that time head of UK2 operations), announced that K2 Group would be moving to use C7 Data Centers in Lindon, Utah as its colocation provider.
In January 2009, UK2 acquired Virtual Internet (VI), also based in the UK. Virtual Internet was founded in 1996 by Jason Drummond. In a 1998 transaction, Charriol plc, listed on the London Alternative Investment Market, acquired VI and changed its name to VirtualInternet.net plc, effectively making it a public company. Its estimated capitalisation when the new name was first traded on 9 January 1999 was over £20 million. On 18 April 2000, the company was transferred to the Official List of the London Stock Exchange, raising more cash and making Drummond one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in Britain. During the dot-com bubble, the share price soared to almost £10, but shrank to 15.5p by 2001. In 2002, VI was purchased by Register.com for about £12 million. In May 2003, VI was acquired by Norwegian hosting provider Active ISP Group, and then reorganized as a private company in a management buyout in 2006.
Coping with recession
UK2 company had grown from about 30 employees to 200 in three years. In February 2009 UK2.Net were named by Netcraft as the second most reliable hosting company in the world, and the most reliable in the UK. After the Great Recession cut into business, the company reduced staff in May 2009, as it closed support centers in India and Ukraine. In September 2010 UK2 announced virtual private server (VPS) hosting using the VPS.Net domain name.
In April, 2011, a majority stake in the UK2 Group was acquired by Lloyds Development Capital (LDC), a subsidiary of Lloyds Banking Group for £47 million (about US$77 million). At that time, Phil Male became chief executive of the group and Bredahl became chief executive of OnApp. LDC was the financial backer of OnApp, to which it added about $20 million in January 2013, and UK2 was one of its hosting providers.
In August 2011, a content delivery network service was announced with the 100TB brand. The 100TB brand (which replaced the previous 10TB brand from 2008), refers to 100 Terabytes of data traffic per month. In March 2010 the 100TB service was announced as a partnership with SoftLayer. A website at ServerForU.com also advertised the 100TB service starting before mid-2013.
In November 2011, UK2 announced HostPuru a hosting brand specifically targeting Latino Spanish speaking communities. By 2011, the group was listed as number 45 on the list of 100 fastest-growing private technology companies in Britain, and in 2012, number 53.
In January 2012, the VPNHQ service was announced for virtual private networks, mentioning a study showing most users of public Wi-Fi do not check to see if their service is encrypted. UK2 sponsored the Marussia F1 racing team in 2012. In February 2012, Virtual Internet announced it was approved as a supplier to the UK Government G-Cloud. It was later reported that major vendors Amazon Web Services and Google were excluded by the UK government. In May 2012, a website backup service called Comcure was announced for beta test.
Midphase were named by Netcraft in April 2013 as the fifth most reliable hosting company, and UK2 was rated 18th.
The large number of domains served by UK2 attracted cyber attacks and other conflicts. In January 2002, UK2 complained of cybersquatting when Host Europe plc had acquired the name UK2.me.uk within minutes of it being made available. In July 2002, one of the sites it hosted was blacklisted for email spam, causing some of its customers to lose email service.
In June 2005, the US press reported on an Iraq insurgency fundraising site established by an Italian group, Campo Antiimperialista. The story generated condemnation of the site, along with a flood of complaints to WestHost, the site’s hosting provider since 2000. Members of the US Congress sent an open letter to the Italian ambassador. Unknown to the public and media, WestHost had operated for over a year under a secret court order to provide all antiimperialista.org logs and files to the US Department of Homeland Security, along with an active tracking system that reported a site visitor’s Internet protocol address. DHS finally allowed WestHost to shut down the site since it foreign authorities did not cooperate to further the investigation. Nevertheless, Italian police later raided the home of a Campo Antiimperialista member and seized a computer and files used to create and maintain the site.
An Internet Protocol address attack disrupted service in November 2006, and in July 2007 email was disabled and its home page defaced. On 31 October 2009, email service was taken down for maintenance. Various problems prevent full service from being restored for over two weeks.A distributed denial-of-service attack disrupted domain name system service in April 2012.
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