Godaddy – How Bob Parsons Founded the Biggest Domain Registrar
GoDaddy (godaddy.com) was founded in 1997 as a web services company by Bob Parsons under the name Jomax Technologies. Three years earlier Parsons sold his financial software company to Intuit for $64 million. In 1999 Jomax changed its name to GoDaddy. The company started in Scottsdale, Arizona and grew to several facilities operating in Washington DC, California, Colorado, Iowa, and India.
GoDaddy rose to national popularity with its Super Bowl ad in 2005 that made fun of the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction controversy. After airing once during the Super Bowl, Fox TV Network pulled the spot, due to its controversial content in which Candice Michelle had a “wardrobe malfunction.” It caused the masses to visit GoDaddy’s website to find out what the controversy was about.
Candice Michelle became known as “the GoDaddy Girl.” From this point on GoDaddy would be talked about every Super Bowl as having commercials that stood out the most. In the years that followed GoDaddy advertised on the Super Bowl and each ad led to a huge leap in market share for the domain registrar. Surpassing Network Solutions as the top domain registrar in 2005 was a major milestone for GoDaddy.
Although GoDaddy filed for an IPO in 2006, the company decided to remain private due to economic uncertainties. In essence, they avoided becoming victimized by the 2008 market crash. By 2009 GoDaddy had registered 30 million domain names. Part of how the site was able to attract so many customers was their low-cost web packages that included hosting and domain registration services.
In 2008 GoDaddy began using IndyCar Star Danica Patrick in its Super Bowl ads. The result was a record-setting 1.5 million visits to GoDaddy’s website, becoming one of the most effective Super Bowl ads in history. She continued to do more Super Bowl ads for GoDaddy in the years that followed. Patrick began driving a GoDaddy race car for NASCAR in 2010. That year GoDaddy continued to be the biggest domain registrar, managing over 45 million domains, which was four times more than their closest competitor. In 2012 GoDaddy appeared on Fortune’s list of top 100 “Best Companies to Work For.”
Bob Parsons stepped down from his CEO position in December 2011 and was succeeded by Warren Adelman. Parsons, who remained as Chairman, was under fire in the media spotlight after shooting and killing an elephant, which upset animal rights groups. Adelman’s term was brief and within a year Scott Wagner was the interim CEO.
In late 2011 GoDaddy had been supporting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a federal bill seen by many internet users as censorship. After 72,000 customers dropped GoDaddy, the company backed off the legislation. The bill had been introduced in the House by Lamar Smith (TX-R) and fell into limbo in January 2012.
GoDaddy made its eighth consecutive Super Bowl appearance in 2012 with ads featuring Danica Patrick. Some of the ads included the recording group The Pussycat Dolls. One of the ads used body paint to push the “.co” extension for small businesses. The previous year the “.co” extension was targeted at female business owners, marketed with the language “she’s smart, she’s business savvy.”
The company received negative press in late 2012 at Forbes published an article called “5 Reasons Why You Should Leave GoDaddy.” The article cited GoDaddy’s initial support of SOPA and the Parsons elephant story. On Sept. 10, 2012, GoDaddy suffered a massive outage as thousands of websites they hosted fell offline. The Washington Post reported that the host for 5 million websites was investigating the incident. According to Tech Week Europe, GoDaddy was shut down for five hours. Interim CEO Wagner said the problem was internal and not related to hackers. The host assured its customers that their confidential information had not been compromised. One of the site’s selling points has been nearly zero downtime.
After years of running Super Bowl ads accused by social groups as exploiting sex, GoDaddy decided to take a more business-like approach to their ad campaigns. In 2012 they hired advertising agency Deutsch New York to craft a new marketing direction for their 2013 Super Bowl ads. The new campaign, which began on NBC with the Summer 2012 Olympics, still features the GoDaddy Girls but is focused more on promoting what the brand offers.
GoDaddy continues to offer low-cost domain names and web hosting, allowing small businesses to own multiple domains. The site also offers low-cost business web tools and email. Another reason for its popularity is GoDaddy provides re-seller opportunities and an auction for buying and selling domain names.
You can read more about this company and more specifically its services here.