Friends since meeting as teenagers in Huntsville, Ala., Andrews and Hall pursued various occupations prior to the Internet boom of the early 1990s.
Sensing the potential for online commerce, Andrews left his veterinary medicine practice in Phoenix to begin hosting adult websites. At the same time, Hall worked as a software consultant for several NASA contractors in the South.
After both relocated to nearby towns in Tennessee, their friendship and mutual interest in online technologies soon grew into a partnership that resulted in Paycom. Founded in 1996, Epoch/Paycom has become a multimillion-dollar company recognized as a primary business model for Internet Pay Service Providers and is credited with revolutionizing the adult Internet industry by providing the technological link between websites and credit/ banking industries to facilitate online sales.
XBIZ spoke to Joel Hall from the company's offices in Marina del Rey, Calif., about the change in command at Paycom and future growth.
XBIZ: Is this going to be a positive or negative change for the average webmaster, or will there be relatively no change at all?
JOEL HALL: I don't see it as that much of a change rather than an affirmation of how we've been operating. You know, Clay has, for over a year or more, been transitioning to his outside interests, and I've been transitioning more and more into a visible position of management. I've had full authority over the company for more than a year now. Clay and I grew up together and have known each other since we were 13 or 14. He's got full confidence and faith in me, and it allows him to go out and pursue his hobbies and interests outside the business. He's been at it for 10 years, like me. It's something that has been in the works for a while. Basically, all we did was announce that I was CEO, since the position was vacant.
XBIZ: There have been some changes over the past year that have caused speculation among the adult webmaster community. Is there anything you want the webmasters to know about the changes or what's coming up in the future for Epoch/Paycom?
JH: Well, I guess we're kind of renewing our focus, for one thing, on putting more dollars in the webmasters' pocket. We've always had a huge focus on the backend, but in addition, we also know that we have some weaknesses on the frontend in reporting. I come from a technical background, so we're really starting to put a lot more energy towards that. And along with that, we are going to announce some pretty neat features in the next year.
XBIZ: Since you do come from the technical side, how do you see your responsibilities changing within the company now that you're stepping into the business/marketing end of things?
JH: Well, to start with, I have 20 years of software development experience, but I also have a graduate degree in business as well. I've always been heavily involved in the behind-thescenes aspects of the business; it's just that now, I'll have a more visible position. I've been heavily involved in management since 1996.
XBIZ: Is it a case of Clay wanting to move on to other things and you wanting to move into a more visible position with the company?
JH: You've got to understand that employment and ownership are two different things. Clay is still just as interested an owner as me. I'm still on the phone with him every day. Whereas, employment — being in the daily work flow — he knows that he's putting more effort into his outside interests, and he didn't want to hold up any work flow — be it risk or getting a contract through or having to get him on a conference call. But he is in daily contact with me. Clay's level of concern and interest for the business hasn't waxed or waned one bit. Basically, he just traded his daytime hours. He knows that dayto- day operations are in good hands with me and Esther Martinez and the rest of us here.
XBIZ: Can you comment on what the other ventures Clay is pursuing?
JH: He's into machinery, like automated manufacturing. And he's also got, I think, a small racing team, a small NASCAR series.
XBIZ: What do you see in the future for Epoch/Paycom's business growth?
JH: We're always pursuing new payment types and payment vehicles. We're always continually evolving our backend, and fraud detection is something that we never sit still on, you know. Hopefully, we'll see a nicer front-end within a year from now, hopefully sooner. I mean, we have had a lack in our reporting systems, and we're hoping to address that. I guess I also want to mention one other thing: Some of the new features coming out will allow some of our existing sponsored merchants to create synergies between them and make more money. So, within our little worker marketplace here, it'll allow all of our clients to put more money in their pockets, hopefully, if they use the features to the fullest extent.
XBIZ: Since Epoch/Paycom is acknowledged as having revolutionized the way that adult business is done on the Internet, your clients are likely to be eager to try those new features.
JH: We don't rest around here, technically. I'm still heavily involved with our CTO Manish Poddar and, you know, we stay pretty rabid about trying to be on the cutting edge, not the bleeding edge.
XBIZ: In a past interview, you're quoted as saying that for the first four years of the company you worked day and night, seven days a week. Do you still do that?
JH: I haven't had a vacation formally in about four or five years. This is my hobby and my passion. Maybe in about five years it will be Clay's time to come back and time for me to go pursue some hobbies. But right now, this is my hobby and my passion.