Lowendbox is a corrupt marketplace

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
This is another piece of original research you are only going to see on vpsBoard.

If you've been in this market sector for more than a few days, you probably are familiar with the Lowendtalk website.  If you are a provider you probably also are aware of the prolonged delays in seeing your offers appear there (if at all).  That is unless you are a Colocrossing customer.

While the claim gets tossed around that the marketplace is corrupt there, no one has crunched the numbers.  

I just performed that task and here are the results showing the downward decline of Lowendtalk offers. 

Key things to note:

1. The big hacks of Lowendtalk occurred around May 15.  That resulted in this community coming into public view and many Colocrossing critics abandoning LET and LEB.

2. A company is affiliated where a company has existing services with CC, even though offer may not be at a CC location.

Summary findings:

1. Total offers on LEB has decreased every month for 5 months.

2. % of offers that are CC related has increased every month except one.

3. % of offers that are CC has ballooned from 21% in April to over 41% in August

4. Offers that ran as last offer for multiple days increased every month for past 5 months.

5. Offers that ran as last for multiple days that were CC increased for a low of 25% to a high of 54% in August.

Summary totals:

August 2013
Offers: 24
Affiliated with CC: 10
% of offers that are CC: 41.66%
Offers from later affiliated with CC: --
Offers that ran as last for multiple days: 11
Offers that ran as last for multiple days that were CC: 6 (54%)

July 2013
Offers: 26
Affiliated with CC: 9
% of offers that are CC: 34.61%
Offers from later affiliated with CC: 1
Offers that ran as last for multiple days: 8
Offers that ran as last for multiple days that were CC: 4 (50%)

June 2013
Offers: 31
Affiliated with CC: 10
% of offers that are CC: 32.25%
Offers from later affiliated with CC: 1
Offers that ran as last for multiple days: 7
Offers that ran as last for multiple days that were CC: 2 (28.57%)

May 2013
Offers: 36
Affiliated with CC: 12
% of offers that are CC: 33%
Offers from later affiliated with CC: -
Offers that ran as last for multiple days: 4
Offers that ran as last for multiple days that were CC: 1 (25%)

April 2013
Offers: 57
Affiliated with CC: 12
% of offers that are CC: 21%
Offers from later affiliated with CC: 2
Offers that ran as last for multiple days: 0
 
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drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
As for @DomainBop's comment on LET

Could that possibly be because Liam announced in May that the number of offers posted on LEB would be decreasing and they would be increasing other types of content like useful articles/tutorials?
While this might be true (I haven't ran those numbers, but I will).  

What you note from the numbers I providers is that:

1. The total offers have decreased.

2. Colocrossing's hogging of the offers stands at 41.66% of August's offers, up from the low of 21%.

3. Colocrossing was under a quarter of all ads on LEB, now they are  under half.

4. Since May 15, there have been 16 tutorials on LEB.

4.5 All tutorials have been published by Maarten Kossen.

5. One of Kossen's  tutorials is  plagiarized.  Big chunks of the copy are wholesale stolen from another author.   More on that later.
 
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SkylarM

Well-Known Member
Verified Provider
I don't know why anyone would consider this a surprise. Lets break it down

Company sells Servers with a rather large aim at the VPS market

Company owns a website dedicated to listing low cost VPS services.

Company favors posts that utilize their servers, as more exposure means more clients, which in turn means the need for more nodes from company.

The issue can't be viewed as ColoCrossing monetizing what they own, the issue should be the fact they own the thing to begin with. LE* being sold quietly to a major player in the market is a much bigger issue than a company using what is theirs to get more money in their own pockets.

If Coca-Cola owns a Football stadium, would you be angry if they only sold Coke products?

Edit: I'm not a CC fanboy, I'm actively pursuing alternatives to CC for Los Angeles and will have something non cc soon. Primarily "company policy" to not announce IPs for customers, when they have a huge section of IPs from other companies being announced under their ASN.
 
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drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
@SkylarM,

Here's my response:

I don't know why anyone would consider this a surprise
It isn't, just to the degree that that their coverage of their house-owned companies and customers are being pushed compared to the MUCH truly larger business crowd offering competing services.

Do we believe that CC has half of all VPS companies even on the low end sitting on their network?  No way they are at that size.

Company favors posts that utilize their servers, as more exposure means more clients, which in turn means the need for more nodes from company.
Is that a morally right or ethical thing to do?  No it isn't.  That was why Lowend Admin refused to sell the site(s) to Colocrossing and every other provider that made an offer to purchase.

Actually, it probably isn't even legal to do what they are doing.   At minimum it shows terrible judgment and ill intent to hijack an entire market segment.

LE* being sold quietly to a major player in the market is a much bigger issue than a company using what is theirs to get more money in their own pockets.
This is so right on target and what I've been saying for eons.

If we revisit how LET/LEB were acquired by CC, we see:

1. CC tried to buy LEB/LET and were told to fuck off

2. Lowend Admin turned the site over to Joel, a community member when LEAdmin became "disinterested" in the sites.

3. In under 30 days of Joel having control of the sites:

    A. The sites got DDoS'd offline

    B. A big APB went out to find the dupe/fraudster.

    C. Webhostingtalk was attacked for uttering anything about LET/LEB.  Put offline.

    D. After a week of mainly downtime, the LET/LEB sites were whisked away to Colocrossing's network, a network that doesn't have DDoS mitigation.  

    E. The theatrics stopped.  The attacks stopped.  No one really noticed the change of ownership.

    F. Joel got a check and monthly payments thereafter from CC.

Whatever details aren't 100%, well they are damn close and some of us were telling the community that then.

If Coca-Cola owns a Football stadium, would you be angry if they only sold Coke products?
No, not if I knew those details.  Now if they hid that for, oh umm, say 15 months then surely, I would and should be upset.

If they want to LOWENDBOX, a site for Colocrossing's CraZy Company Deals, then note it.

Look at the front of Lowendtalk.... Where is the Colocrossing owns this or "a brand of Colocrosssing Velocity Game Servers"?

Look at the front of Lowendbox... Where is the Colocrossing owns this or "a brand of Colocrosssing Velocity Game Servers"?  It says "LowEndBox hosted by colocrossing".  Hosted by?  Yeah.

 I'm not a CC fanboy
I entirely believe you. 

There is this magic page from your signature: https://crissic.net/transparency

It says:

Our objective is not to lie to customers....

We focus on transparency....

We don't sugar coat our offers or lie to you to get your business. We want you to use our services because you know you can trust us.
You really out to send that over to Colocrossing.   You get it.  I get it.

Unfortunately, by continuing to mask many things, Colocrossing is being deceptive.  Manipulating the market.  Subjecting consumers on their network to often less than optimal experiences, mass over subscribed nodes, security lacking info disclosures and putting said customers next to plenty of sites, users and content you wouldn't want to be living next door to in reality.
 
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drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
I'm betting that the sales generated per CC-LEB offer has decreased in proportion to the increase in CC-LEB offers.
100% agree, but they won't ever fess up.   Buffalo is a hard sell minus all the well earned negativity (i.e. sales ads with "not a CC network") or similar.

It's that bad.   The providers that are in Buffalo, don't let most of them kid you.  They can't afford to move elsewhere.  Who else is hording IPs and giving them away.   Smart, but it's a suckers bait.   When Biloh starts hitting folks with a 25 cent or 50 cent per IP charge, those hosts will have to pay up or go elsewhere and pay much more.

...small unknown CC hosts who are getting their offers posted now are probably receiving far less benefit (i.e. sales) from a LEB posting than unknown hosts did on LEB 1-2 years agoTo keep the dialogue open with that good man @DomainBop over on LET:
Absolutely, there are few new providers getting attention like they use to on LEB or LET.  Mainly the attention is for whack $15 a year 1GB plans and 2GB RAM for $2-3 a month.  Both are proven unsustainable, except where you forgo:

1. Security

2. Staff

3. Regard for the customer

and where in year two none of those folks stay on the same losing money plan.

TL;DR: the increase in CC offers on LEB may be helping CC but it could actually be hurting the smaller,newer CC hosts.
It is.  It is giving them leverage over insolvent companies and their customers, as the assets.  HudsonValleyHost comes to mind with a customer here saying that Colocrossing billed his credit card, even though he was a customer of HVH:

http://vpsboard.com/topic/540-is-hvh-owned-by-colocrossing/

As for the actual new companies and harm from the CC control over LEB.  No doubt that to survive in their minds, you must have visibility in LET/LEB.  Your options are win the lottery to have offer shown on LEB (that's how many more established companies have even felt recently - until the problematic customers sign up and abuse becomes their fulltime job) or to outright buy advertising on LET/LEB --- which is bringing in from BSA alone pre-costs $96k a year at last calculation.

Now, I think these new companies are borderline ahhh, retarded jumping into this shark tank of an industry that makes Chinese product dumping and worker abuses globally look like another good day at the office.

There have always been problems and unsavory dealers of services, but things have really gone off the deep end with a number of wanna-be-lowended hosts.
 

WebSearchingPro

VPS Peddler
Verified Provider
Someone brought it up on LET earlier. Liam I think it was.

The number of CC offers is significantly higher because a vast majority of providers use CC.

The real kicker would be getting the amount of offers / month that LEB receives, not just what is actually posted. What actually gets posted is not the whole side of the story. Just half.

However I do agree that CC companies get fast-tracked offers. But it is in their own interest to push their own offers - can't really hold it against them at some point, even though the whole idea of LE* has been watered down since its been sold.
 

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
The number I believe @WebSearchingPro was 70% of the offers submitted are from CC based companies.  I don't doubt it, those newbs probably get an introductory email with their "Instant $99 become a VPS provider" solution from Colocrossing, that says in part:

"...And be active on LET, not elsewhere."
We have to remember here that Liam was there as the LET community guy when the multiple hacks occurred.   He claims he didn't know about Colocrossing and that he was deceived like the rest of us.

Here today, he's still over there in his role collecting that blood money from Colocrossing.

Surely, what ever Jon/Alex says is the line he tows.

But next time LEB gets hacked and we all have administrator access, we'll see more of the lies they perpetuated.

Big question folks ought to be asking is if CC has sooooo many of their customers posting offers, why do they have oh well over a dozen offers from one company that runs 3-4 or more shell companies pretending to be different companies?  Dozen offers or more inside of this year.

Perhaps with all the spin, they get confused :)
 
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Aldryic C'boas

The Pony
To be honest, those are lower numbers than I was expecting to see - given how often this is talked about, I figured it would be something like 70-85%.  On the fair approach though, I'm still of the firm belief that LET was fast becoming a shithole  right when Joel took over - I was never really active on LEB anyways (the nested comments are just annoying to keep up with), and I'd long since abandoned the piss and mud-slinging contest that LET had become before the DDoS and takeover really occurred.

Their ownership of LE* never really bugged me.  After all, nearly every business has their own marketing department;  you can't even go for a drive down the road without a new advertisement every three feet.  I could even wax poetic about how 'community' isn't something that really exists any more; after all, you didn't think that Facebook was actually a social tool as opposed to a monetary one, did you?  But enough about that..

I have two issues with ColoCrossing:  the first one being the rampant dishonesty.  Going back to the 'every business[...]marketing' example - nobody really gives a damn about them advertising what they want to advertise on a site they bought and paid for.  Sure, it ruins the original point of the community, but if anyone is to blame there it's Joel for being such a greedy cunt.  What irritates me (and likely you as well) is that they feel it's perfectly okay to tell blatant lies;  and then have the gall to expect that they would still be trusted.  Although there is one advantage to that, which I'll get to in a bit.

The dishonesty isn't just public, either.  Several times there have been glaringly obvious issues on their end (such as a maintenance window where notification was only given 'bout half a day in advance where they claimed there would be "no problems".  Guess what - our NY deployment knocked offline for an hour due to their butterfingers) where they not only tried to claim there wasn't a problem, but had the nerve to try and blame us for their tech having a cockup.  Numerous other examples come to mind - having critical issues ignored in favour of "other clients", being charged for something we were supposed to already have included, etc.  It pretty much takes either Fran or I completely taking off the gloves to get anything at all out of these people.

The other issue is a punishing combination of arrogance and stupidity.  Inevitably, when dealing with any 'lifer' CC employee you're going to be treated like some illiterate hoodrat;  and that's on top of them acting as if they're god's gift to IT.  What really makes this frustrating is how completely AMATEUR these people are.  It's like walking into a 5-star sit down for some steak and learning that the kid from McDonalds will be cooking your meal.

Case in point would be Alex, who anyone following WHT recently got to see played like a fiddle.  I mentioned earlier that there was an advantage to blatant lies - Alex is the best example after Fabozzi.  While some CC folks (Jon has gotten much better at this) will carefully tread into an argument, and will actually be cautious with what they say so as not to create a liability later, Alex can reliably be expected to immediately claim the exact opposite when confronted with an uncomfortable truth.  So with a little patience, it's rather easy to coax information you want out of him by leading the conversation in a specific direction, and leaving coached placements for him to stumble on.

The reason I bring up WHT and the arrogance - you folks see how he acts on WHT.  The supreme "Holier than Thou", "Always right and you're always wrong" attitude.  This is _exactly_ what any customer dealing with ColoCrossing can expect... until you call them on the bluff.  As good ol' Jack recently discovered, threatening to leave netted him some rather fantastic pricing on gear.  Assuming ColoCrossing is even still around when our contract comes up (personally, I see them bankrupting out or having to trick some poor unsuspecting company into buying them out in order to avoid debt), I imagine we'll see the same.  Or, maybe we'll get lucky and be offered an early end to the contract - I hear Jon has been crying quite a bit lately about "Mean ol' Aldryic".
 
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Francisco

Company Lube
Verified Provider
Everyone cries about "Mean ol' Aldryic" >_>

We had a brazilian guy come by IRC just tonight wanting to report you to the internet police.

While I always enjoy a cheap deal I just don't see us carrying through come our renewal. There's too much hostility (more so from us than them) to continue it smoothly.

While Jon won't like losing a cab, given the price he charges us I'm sure he'd have no problem selling it to someone else within 24 hours - just like EGI.

Francisco
 

Francisco

Company Lube
Verified Provider
Hell boss, you just summarized my opinions of them in three words.  Coulda saved me a good bit of writing had you said that earlier >_>
CC is better than EGI since CC doesn't fuck us out of any resources we pay for.

Minus a few crap routes that they adjusted we've not had any network complaints. While I would love to have level3 again it's just not going to happen at the price bracket we pay for. Jon only listed we got a gbit unmetered port, he didn't list what providers as to not screw himself and give us room to walk.

Their support has been more or less fine with me. Alex gave me some wise ass replies and tried to pawn some network issues off on us but I'm not Fabozzi, I know how a BGP session works and how to check the running time of it. We're not the first person to have issues with Chuck but I can assure you that he'll never pickup another ticket of ours.

They have a few other techs that have done drive swaps for us and such and they've been on the ball as needed.

V6 still isn't there and won't be any time soon. Jon promised just this month that it will be up this year but I don't see that happening since he'll be too busy planning out another expansion. He made mention that 'no enterprise clients asked for it', but then what is every LE provider? If they aren't important then why whore yourself for a buck fiddy on the forums for near $0 margins?

My biggest frown in Jon's direction is that he changed the original designation for Buffalo. He originally said to me it was going to be a more premium location with mostly colo and would be fewer providers to compete with. Fast forward 2 months and you get what the market is over there now.

Francisco
 

Aldryic C'boas

The Pony
V6 still isn't there and won't be any time soon. Jon promised just this month that it will be up this year but I don't see that happening since he'll be too busy planning out another expansion. He made mention that 'no enterprise clients asked for it', but then what is every LE provider? If they aren't important then why whore yourself for a buck fiddy on the forums for near $0 margins?


My biggest frown in Jon's direction is that he changed the original designation for Buffalo. He originally said to me it was going to be a more premium location with mostly colo and would be fewer providers to compete with. Fast forward 2 months and you get what the market is over there now.


Francisco
Mhmm, our grievances are aligned - the shameless dishonesty.  Pretty soon we'll need to change that `Fran Lied` meme to `Jon lied`.. although it's admittedly more frustrating than funny.
 
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