Everything in business matters, size too, and each business has its ideal size. So how big a web hosting company should be? To answer this question, we must consider what we need to run the business. Let's see: we need certain departments, and each department needs a certain number of members.

Support Team should be available 24/7, which makes 168 hours per week. No human should do this kind of job for over 32 hours per week. People should also have two months annual leave (this is a standard in ICDSoft for years), so this lowers the average to 27 hours per week. That's why we need six groups. We should never let one person alone on a support shift. For the same reason as the flying crew should be at least of two. But if we have two people on shift at weekends, and we want to be efficient and keep them busy enough, obviously we would need at least four people on shift during peak hours. Thus we know that a Support Team should be at least of 20 members.

Based on my experience, 20 Support members can serve up to 80,000 - 100,000 customers (depending on old/new accounts ratio) while maintaining a high quality support service. This makes up to 5000 customers per Support member. Anything over it will be a compromise with quality.

Developers (Web Team):
To run a hosting business, you can purchase most of the needed software. But when using software that someone else maintains, your hands will be tied forever, especially if the software is for mass-usage. At least, consider the risk to run software developed by someone else, and counting on this someone else to fix it when a security vulnerability is discovered.
So you do need your own team of Developers. No matter how many customers you have, the software would be the same, so the number of developers does not depend on the number of customers. To my experience, eight is the optimal number of members in a development team, which would develop and support:

Web Hosting Control Panel,
Webmail software,
Reseller Control Panel,
Support platform,
administrative interfaces.

System Administrators:
The Admin Team is responsible for managing servers, installing new machines, hardware upgrades, keeping all software up to date, and securing systems. Many of their tasks require work on a daily basis. They should also work 24/7, but one available system administrator is enough at off-peak hours: someone from the Support Team, as well as tons of automation, monitors almost everything. The size of Admin Team does not depend on the number of customers/servers, given that the client base is not growing at a fast speed - which I will never allow anyway, as rapid growth will harm the quality of the support service. The optimal number for this team is nine: seven system administrators and two system level developers, attached to this team and this is exactly what we have – a team of nine System Administrators and System Developers.

Account Managers:
Account Managers monitor the payment system and support customers with more complex payment issues. This is not an urgent job, if you need service on the New Year evening, but some reason your credit card gets rejected, Customer Support on shift will create your account, will wish you Happy New Year and will leave a message to the Account Managers that they have to assist you with the payment issue after the holidays are over. Two Account Managers are the minimum we should have. Given the fact that we have automation and everything is smooth, two is also the optimum, so we have two Account Managers.

They have to test every product or interface before and after it is released. We have one full-time QA engineer and two colleagues from the Support Team completing QA assignments.

Anti-Abuse Department:
This is our Cyber Police. With over ten years of experience here, these guys are like City's Sheriff. They know everyone in our cyber city of 62,000. As we have strict rules and I have given unlimited power to them, bad guys reside somewhere else, and your neighborhood is a very calm place.

Back on numbers: four Customer Support members serve the Anti-Abuse Department as part-time job. When needed, they have the full support of Admin Team, Developers, other Support members and me.

So one of the most important departments does not add a single extra person to our team.

Web/Graphical Designer:
When something works perfectly, it deserves a nice outlook. Full time in-house Web Designer is a luxury for a conservative web hosting provider. Still, we need to rely on someone at any time, even for relatively small tasks. The web designer who currently works for us is a person who simply cannot stay idle. So I decided to share all ideas I had in the past decade about different projects (not only hosting-related), but these projects did not start due to lack of time or inspiration. For example, a patent in the field of constructions that I was postponing for seven years, as I had no time to make the drawings required for submitting the patent request. Finally, thanks to my colleague, it is already submitted, and we are preparing to start a revolution in the field of building and construction. Imagine buildings much stronger and several times cheaper than anything you've seen. But back to Web Hosting World -  as you have reached this point, you probably enjoy the stories, and I guess you like the design and the visual information too...

Accounting team:
We have two accountants and an upbeat record: 18 straight years being a taxpayer, over 60 million dollars of revenue and never ever had a problem with tax authorities. Government always put us as an example of a taxpayer. Yet our small team of accountants serves two other businesses of mine, so the cost of accounting is very low for us.

The rest we cannot survive without:
We have a front office Secretary, two people who clean the office after us, and one person with golden hands, responsible for all possible issues in our office, as well as supplying everything we may need here.

Lastly, ICDSoft have a CEO. Did you notice that I forgot to mention Marketing Department? We never had, do not have, and will never have one. We also do not have a budget for advertising. That's why, despite the fair prices and high salaries, we still generate profit. I believe that if something is good, it deserves to be advertised, but if something is perfect, it will survive and prosper anyway.

You may find this strange, but I do not want my team to grow, so the number of our customers should never exceed 100,000. This is the reason we did no marketing for 17 years. The number of customers grew gradually from zero in year 2000 to 80,000 in 2012, when I had to take active measures (suspension of affiliate program and price increases) towards further growth. We serve 62,000 customers now. My concern over the number of customers was one of the reasons I delayed the Web Hosting World project. The idea came in 2006, but I had to wait as I knew that the WHW project will serve as advertising. Advertising is something we do not need. Today you may find it strange that someone exposes so much information about his business to the public, but I am sure one day it will be a standard, and no one will trust "black box" businesses.

To summarize: to my experience, 50 is the minimal number of staff in a web hosting company and 100,000 is the maximal number of customers (web sites) they can serve. Of course, by increasing the number of staff, the customer base can grow over 100,000, but each extra person means increased risk of failure. In our business, a mistake or deliberate wrongdoing of a single team member can sink the boat. Bigger team size could unlock herd instincts and cause diffusion of responsibility. ICDSoft is located in Bulgaria – a small European country with just seven million citizens. The estimated number of people involved in the IT sector is about 50,000. I can say that I have gathered top 50 of them. Should I decide to increase the volume of work, let's say ten times, I should go down to top 500, and this would be a very big compromise for me. That's why I will never do that. We look for staff not only in Bulgaria, and some of my colleagues are not Bulgarians. As all we work together, in one office, here is the place to thank them for coming to our country.

So back to the initial question: the answer of "how big a web hosting company should be" is "50 team members, between 50,000 and 100,000 customers". Anything smaller or bigger is a compromise. According to recent statistics about lifespan of IT companies, just 1% of companies survive 14 years without exit (acquisition, IPO, or shutting down). ICDSoft is more than 18 years old, so we are obviously on the right track. Another reason not to get bigger: if you read the "Disaster Recovery" article, you should know how our spare office stronghold looks like, and it is made to accommodate and feed 70 families – 50 of our team members and 20 of its supporting personnel, doctors, and military specialists. If it should be ten times bigger, it will make even governments worry what we are up to.

In case someone is concerned what will be my reaction should our customer base grow again, answer is simple: Should the number of hosted accounts hit 80,000 again, I will lock the Order page once again and will leave any outsider to the wolves. I am joking - there are thousands of web hosting companies, and I believe many of them are good enough. I really do not need a bigger piece of the cake, as I am not here for taking it, but for making it better for the customers.