WordPress Managed Host NodeKi Goes Bust: No Refunds For Lifetime Customers

As of February 1st, 2014, NodeKi Managed WordPress hosting company will be shutting down, citing their lifetime plans as a contributing factor. The NodeKi management team sent out an email to all of their customers today to inform them of the situation:

Dear Sir/Madam,
As of February 1st, 2014, NodeKi will permanently be going out of business. We want to inform you in advance that the NodeKi lifetime plans and server will cease to exist on Feburary 1st of 2014.

Unfortunately, the “Lifetime” plans were not a sustainable business model. We can’t continue paying for servers, software, bandwidth and support if there’s no incoming money to cover these costs. It’s not remotely possible to provide any product “for life” that has recurring costs associated with it. The Lifetime plans were not something that the existing management implemented, sold, or received money for. Due to this reason and the “no refund” policy at purchase, we are not able to offer refunds. This is not something that is open to debate.

LIMITED support (password resets and MINOR server related issues) will be provided on a best effort basis up until the shut down time. We have provided a two week timeframe so that you can move your domains and websites to a new provider.

Thank you for your support in the previous years.

Respectfully,
NodeKi Management

Last year after NodeKi launched its new plans, it was bought out by InterQuad corporation, a holding company for other brands, leaving some to wonder if this was planned from the outset. Prior to that NodeKi had launched with Lifetime WordPress Hosting packages starting at just $39.00 USD, which were offered as an early bird discount. Customers who originally purchased NodeKi’s Lifetime Plan are furious. They were promised that they would never have to buy WordPress hosting again and paid the extra cost for lifetime service.

Using the Internet Archive, I was able to find an archived page of their original Lifetime plan pricing structure.

lifetime-plans

What Went Wrong at NodeKi?

There’s no shortage of demand for managed WordPress hosting in the WordPress ecosystem. GoDaddy will be launching a managed WordPress product this week and managed WordPress host WP Engine just scooped up $15 million dollars in venture capital today to help fund the company’s rapid growth.

What caused NodeKi to shut down? The email hints at a major problem with its pricing structure. If NodeKi collapsed under the weight of its profitless lifetime hosting plans, that seems to indicate that there wasn’t a huge demand for the recurring plans that were subsequently released. Monetarily, it’s not a huge loss for a customer, but it is a major disappointment and inconvenience for those who put their faith in the company’s long term vision.

27 Comments


  1. What? Lifetime service and support isn’t a sustainable business model for commercial WordPress product? I’m shocked!

    Shocked that anyone believed it would be, and that there are still some that believe it can be.

    It’s not. Especially with WordPress products and those without deep VC pockets to weather the low revenue sh*tstorm to follow.

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  2. This gives me a new business idea! I’m going to start a service business and charge a ridiculously low fee for “lifetime” services. Then, after a short period of time where I rake in a bunch of dough, I’m going to sell — heck, even GIVE away — my business to someone else who will promptly shut down the business claiming that they couldn’t sustain what the previous owner put into place. I’ll get my cash, hand over a bit to the guy – for his trouble – who’s going to get all the hate mail, and we all win. EXCEPT THE CUSTOMER!

    Who wants to be the first one to sign up? Visit ridiculouslycheaplifetimeservices.com today!

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    1. Doh, I went to accept your awesome offer and the domain doesn’t appear to be exist! Please, I want your awesome lifetime service!

      As a side note, lifetime doesn’t mean “your” lifetime. It means the lifetime of the company.

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      1. Sorry about that! We’re in the process of building the site. For now, just send cash (no checks) to my PO Box. I promise to send the details of my services to you later. You can trust me!

        Agreed that “lifetime” is a pretty squishy term for most companies.

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  3. Nothing surprising here. A lifetime plan has to be high enough in price to cover realistic expected lifetime of the use of the product. Make it absurdly cheap and you fail. Nothing to do with WordPress, they’d have failed with any other software as well.

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    1. 100% correct. That’s the only situation in which it will work. With any product as you mentioned.

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    2. Absolutely. I wouldn’t rely on a similar offer at all since it would probably cover the cost for a few months but “Lifetime” is a very long time even in the IT industry. And unlike other services, the hosting requires more hardware, extra management and personnel (support, etc) which can’t be avoided.

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  4. Doesn’t this just point out the fact that there is really only two classes of WP Publishers? Those that are handheld through WordPress.com and those that self host? Those that self-host need to be expert enough to provide their own management, and not be reliant on a hosting company leading them down the garden path? If they can’t handle that, then use WordPress.com and the limitations that come with that approach, and it’s free. If you don’t want the restrictions, then self-host, and step up and do and be what needs to be. None of the “Managed Options”, in my opinion, are worth the price, because they leave or have left large holes in their plans (like the one above (usually in the form of poor or stupid support). Therefore, if someone needs their site to be managed, they should probably find someone that already is publishing WP sites and “manages” them, that would take on additional sites for a realistic fee, because WP isn’t free. As good as it has become in calendar 2013, it requires constant maintenance, plugging security holes, monitoring, fixing stupid content mistakes, resolving incompatible theme and plugin updates, and a multitude of other site over-lording to keep WP alive and kicking. So perhaps the better alternative to “Managed” hosting, is creating a legion of WP “Big Brothers” who will manage and host non-Wordpress.com sites for people? But regardless, there is no free lunch with WordPress, except through WordPress.com and God love them for it (though our couple thousand WP sites and us travel the solo road – but that’s why there are minions)!

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  5. Seems nobody even mentions that a service like that is available. Are you all forgetting that WordPress.com supplies free hosting for your domain “for life”?

    Naturally there are restrictions but then I believe any service offered like that would have anyway.

    What about offering life-time hosting paid for annually? That may be a twist to rank high in search engines, get a lot of clients and really offer a viable solution!

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    1. Lifetime hosting paid for annually? Wouldn’t that just be hosting with an annual payment instead of monthly payments? So it’s not technically a lifetime of service for one payment. It’s a year of service for one payment.

      What the is referring to selling hosting for a one time payment, say $19, and providing hosting ANDuppory forever. Or at least until you fail because it’s nt a sustainable business model for a web hosting company, themes or plugins.

      WordPress.com is free but it’s to a webhting company. It’s a service. You don’t have access to the sever. You can’t install any plugins or themes you want. It’s then monetized via ads (very few) and premium up sells. Support won’t be like a web host where you can pick up the phone when you have a problem with your site. If your site is down its because all of WordPress.com is down.

      WordPress does offer enterprise paid solutions but they are very expensive. Far more than average self hosted WordPress users would or could pay per month. That’s why it’s for enterprise customers. They make a lot of money this way.

      But a small web get that most people have never heard of offering lifetime support and hosting for a one time payment? Absurd, unless it’s a promotion for a limited number of people. It’s not sustainable.

      It’s why most commercial WordPress plugins and a lot of theme companies have either monthly or typically annual payments. Free, when you are providng support etc, is not a sustainable model.

      If you have big VC funding and can burn brought money like no tomorrow, go for it. But most WordPress businesses are bootstrapped. Very very few get VC.

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  6. It seems that they are shutting down lifetime plans only as it is still possible to purchase monthly plans, although the email suggests otherwise? … hmmm.

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  7. lifetime word press hosting is absurd not good for business, i think this company should be prosecuted for deceiving their customer.

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    1. Prosecution won’t accomplish anything in this case. It’s not a criminal act. The best case is to sue for damages, but then the company can just declare bankruptcy and only priority creditors will get anything, assuming the company has any money left (customers are out of luck). If the company were still in business, the best recourse is to file an FTC claim and complain to the BBB, but since the company appears to be shuttering its business, it likely won’t do any good.

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  8. File under “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”…

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  9. There is nothing which is called lifetime. Even insurance companies do not cover anyone’s life. How people believed!!! :(

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  10. As pointed out in the comments… this was never a sustainable business model but who wouldn’t be tempted?

    My sympathy is with the people who signed up and have now lost out.

    C’est la vie.

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  11. A few decades ago fitness gyms would offer lifetime memberships, then go out of business, so a law was passed limiting memberships to 3 years. If you are buying a service or software that is unlimited for any price, BEWARE! Any responsible company will limit their offering between 1 to 3 years, because many companies don’t survive beyond 5 years. With a subscription offering for software updates or service, companies can live long, and continue to serve their customers.

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  12. Seems to me they got what they paid for! Lifetime Hosting… As in the Lifetime of the Company. I am willing to bet that was in the fine print…

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    1. It’s implicit. No person can reasonably expect anything to be “lifetime” whether we’re talking hosting, products, love, knives staying sharp, carpeting…

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  13. And now the even offer to go on with a paid model.
    We all knew it could hardly work – but i feel ripped off anyways.

    If i would not live outside the country i would at least try to sue them.

    I do agree that noone should expect something ‘lifetime’ rather than his own life – BUT in that case everyone using this to promote things should be sued straight away for offering false services.

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  14. I am the previous owner of NodeKi and this post was just brought to my attention, not by Breck, the existing owner of the business, but another customer who hosted with NodeKi when I first started the business, so I wanted to stop by and reply as I cannot reply to the post at WMPU.

    If Sarah would like to confirm this is a valid post and that I am who I say I am, let me know what e-mail you’d like for me to get in touch with you at and I’ll be more than happy to follow up with you immediately.

    That being said, NodeKi was sold to InterQuad last year. The reason for the sale was simple, other business ventures took off faster than expected and NodeKi was the only hosting brand I owned as well as the only business I owned which required ongoing support – as other ventures grew, my time to help customers was cut shorter and shorter and I didn’t think that was fair to them, so I made a decision.

    To ensure customers were able to receive the same or better levels of support than what I could provide, I began searching for a company that would be financially and technologically sound, one who would be capable of taking on and managing a large number of growing WordPress sites and be able to support them should anything happen, whether it’s a small issue with a plugin or an issue with a website being targeted by malware.

    I spoke to over 20 companies, all of which were very much aware of the Lifetime Plans, how they were sold and why we chose to offer them in addition to monthly plans. InterQuad was very much interested in the deal so we began discussing the terms, which included me staying on to provide limited support for a period of time after the sale was complete. I stayed on up through December of last year (2013) at which time InterQuad terminated that agreement.

    The agreement for the sale was based on the fact that InterQuad would be able to manage and support WordPress powered sites and that they understood the in’s and out’s of the LT plans, and would be able to support them whether that meant keeping the customer on an existing LT plan or assisting them with an upgrade to a higher plan if their resource usage dictated the need for such. All details were made available upfront, before the sale. Nothing was hidden.

    The LT plans were profitable to a point. They weren’t the most profitable, but they did generate revenue and the vast majority of the customers submitted maybe 1-2 tickets a month, if that. Others did make up for the lacking submissions from others, but that’s how it goes in the hosting industry. Some customers you only hear from if something is wrong, others you hear from daily. Either way, whether they paid $10 or $99 for an LT plan, they were treated the same when I was there.

    Despite what some may feel the goal of the plans wasn’t to capitalize on unsuspecting customers and take their money. They were a cheap, supported alternative to existing hosting plans on the market. If you speak with any of the customers who use/used NodeKi, when I ran the operation, I’m sure they would agree things were running smoothly and I did everything I could to ensure that even small issues were taken care by me personally. Even if it was something as small as uploading a theme and clicking activate. I cared about the customers and my decision to sell the company was simply because I felt that they deserved more time than I could give and in most cases, a larger dedicated team should be more than capable of providing more than I could.

    That said, I’ve not spoke to Breck since the 7th of this month, and the only discussion there was to aid in transferring the few last remaining domains out of my control and into his.

    It’s unfortunate and I am truly sorry that it’s happening. Unfortunately, not all mergers and sales go as planned, despite what you hear upfront. I knew InterQuad was planning to no longer offer the LT plans, but I didn’t know they’d be giving existing LT customers the boot.

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