Bob Parsons, CEO and Founder of GoDaddy.com
The Bob Parsons Interview - There has been a lot of water under the bridge since our last interview with Bob Parsons; the fact that it was only last year goes to show how much GoDaddy.com has been in the spotlight lately - it seems much longer! It has been a year of achievements for GoDaddy.com, not least introducing a new word into general usage with their ''GoDaddyEsque'' Superbowl commercials that helped make the company a household name. Bob Parsons talks to us about the highlights of the year, the future, and the ongoing ICANN/VeriSign issue.
- HOSTSEARCH: 2005 was an enormous year for GoDaddy; you moved into dedicated hosting, you became the number 1 domain registrar, the 3rd largest shared hosting provider worldwide, you now have more than 12 million domains in your portfolio and you are North America's largest shared hosting provider. You yourself received the "Ed Denison Business Leader of the Year Award" for 2005 - it just never seemed to end! What for you personally were the highlights of the past year and the first part of 2006?BOB PARSONS: Well, you pretty much summed up the highlights for 2005. From our first Super Bowl commercial to all the various milestones we achieved at the company in the areas of domain names, shared hosting and SSL certificates - well, it was quite a year. A few other select highlights would be the launch of both my blog, www.bobparsons.com and our Radio Show ( www.radiogodaddy.com ), as well as the overall growth success experienced by the company in 2005.
- HOSTSEARCH: You have another Superbowl under your belt and with the amount that has been written about your last commercial, I am sure it proved very good value for money! GoDaddy is one of the few domain name-slash-web hosting companies that have become a household name. How important has your Superbowl advertising been in realizing this?BOB PARSONS: There is no doubt that our Super Bowl commercials helped Go Daddy become a household name, but any commercial and in fact, any advertising -- is really only a small part of the story. At the end of the day you must be able to back-up your brand with great, well-priced products supported by excellent customer service.
- HOSTSEARCH: In February last year we reported your decision to offer the Turbo SSL Certificate to bona-fide open source software projects at no cost. At that time you suggested, "We are a big supporter of the open source community." Just how important do you think open source is and where is it leading us?BOB PARSONS: think open source software projects are a vital part of the Internet community that have added tremendous value and benefits. There have been some outstanding applications developed by the Open Source community that we and many other organizations and individuals -- currently use. We are happy to assist the Open Source community by providing them Free Turbo SSL Certificates; we believe that by doing so, everyone benefits.
- HOSTSEARCH: In October last year you reduced the price of domain names down to an incredible $1.99 and you were reported as saying, 'One of our goals has been to increase the Internet's accessibility for everyone." You went on to say that with 'domains from just $1.99 a year, we're achieving that goal." To some extent this sounds like you might be on some type of crusade and I was wondering if your comments stemmed from any particular position as far as the Internet is concerned.BOB PARSONS: I don't know if I would go so far as to say we are on a 'crusade." When Go Daddy became a domain name registrar it did so because it saw a market that was overpriced with poor service. We saw an opportunity to provide great products at lower prices, backed by superior customer service. We saw ourselves as a friend of the consumer. And although we certainly have helped make the Internet more accessible to everyday people, we certainly wouldn't try to take sole credit for that.
- HOSTSEARCH: At the end of 2005, while other companies were giving out the usual seasonal bonuses, GoDaddy did the same but slapped on additional rewards and prizes totaling $750,000. That's quite a statement. Members of your team were reported as saying things like, 'I won my mortgage being paid for an entire year. My friends didn't believe me at first, but it's true." Obviously a happy workforce is a benefit to any organization, but you seem to place particular emphasis on this. Is this representative of any particular 'Bob Parsons' approach to management?BOB PARSONS: don't know if I would say it represents a particular approach to management. Rewarding employees for their efforts is simply the 'right thing to do'. In turn, our rewards promote greater employee productivity. Ultimately, everyone benefits, both the company and the employees.
- HOSTSEARCH: Again at the end of last year you provided new domain name registrants with blogging accounts. This came alongside an upgrade of the web hosting plans you offer, the inclusion of web-based email encryption and the launch of a business solutions store, amongst many other improvements. A lot of other hosts seemed to be offering massive increases in resources and very regular additional features in 2005. In your opinion, to what extent are these enhancements utilized by end users? Is it in fact possible for people to use so much bandwidth and storage space and so many features? Do you expect this trend of continual enhancements to continue throughout 2006, and if so, just how far can it go?BOB PARSONS: At Go Daddy, we listen to our customers. We deploy enhancements and new features in direct response to customer feedback. So yes, our customers are taking advantage of the new features, add-ons and enhancements all the time because they asked for them. As for predicting whether this trend will continue in the industry; well, I don't like to make predictions. Instead, I focus on the day-to-day operations of Go Daddy.
- HOSTSEARCH: In 2005 you launched a domain appraisal service alongside the launch of an Internet domain auction site. Have you had any major finds or major sales through these services? Have there been any multimillion dollar domain names found or sold?BOB PARSONS: We have been very pleased with the results of our domain name auction and appraisal service, the Domain Name Aftermarket. I don't, however, feel it is appropriate for me to cite particular sales; it is very possible that the seller & buyer would prefer not to have the domain and its sales price mentioned.
- HOSTSEARCH: HostSearch recently reported your disapproval of an agreement between ICANN and VeriSign that would enable VeriSign to increase registration fees for domain names. I am wondering if you could give us the background to the comments you made about this situation and I wonder to what extent you feel there should be a level of 'deregulation' - for want of a better word - as far as domain names are concerned.BOB PARSONS: I've made my position known both on my blog and on Radio Go Daddy, as well as in a variety of press releases and interviews to date. And I will say again, that I personally don't have a problem with VeriSign making a fair profit. However, I am greatly troubled - as are many other registrars - with VeriSign's windfall profits being accomplished outside of the free enterprise system in which the rest of us all must compete. I find it particularly outrageous that because of the special privilege VeriSign will be granted, all of us who use the Internet may be denied the economies of scale and innovation that are inherent in our competitive environment. As for deregulation, I'm not sure what you mean by that. Certainly, someone has to control the .COM registry, you couldn't just take it away from VeriSign and let there be some type of 'free for all." But raising prices without justification is reason enough to put the entire registry contract out for competitive bidding.
- HOSTSEARCH: Where do you see GoDaddy in 10 years time? What services will you be offering and what will the web hosting landscape look like?BOB PARSONS: As I said earlier, I don't like to make predictions. I find that if you take care of business day-to-day, then tomorrow tends to take care of itself.
- HOSTSEARCH: When the day is done and you find yourself at home, how do you relax and spend your free time?BOB PARSONS: I'm usually blogging!