GoDaddy Inc. is an American publicly traded Internet domain registrar and web hosting company. As of May 2017, GoDaddy has approximately 17 million customers and over 6,000 employees worldwide. The company is known for its advertising on TV and in the newspapers. It has been involved in several controversies related to censorship.
GoDaddy was founded in 1997 by Baltimore, Maryland, entrepreneur Bob Parsons. Prior to GoDaddy, Parsons sold his financial software services company, "Parsons Technology, Inc." to Intuit for $64 million in 1994. Parsons came out of his retirement in 1997 to launch Jomax Technologies, which later became GoDaddy Group Inc. GoDaddy received a strategic investment from top venture capital funds, KKR, Silver Lake, and Technology Crossover Ventures.
In 1999, a group of employees at Jomax Technologies were brainstorming and decided to change the company name. An employee said, "How about Big Daddy?" However, the domain name had already been purchased. Parsons replied, "How about Go Daddy?" The name was available, so he bought it. Parsons said the company stuck with the name because it made people smile and remember it.
The company changed its name branding from "Go Daddy" to "GoDaddy" in February 2006.
In 2001, soon after Network Solutions was no longer the only place to register a domain, GoDaddy was approximately the same size as competitors Dotster and eNom.
In April 2005, GoDaddy became the largest ICANN-accredited registrar on the Internet.
GoDaddy is considered by many to be the world's largest web host by market share, as reported by several sources.
In 2013, GoDaddy was reported as the largest ICANN-accredited registrar in the world, at the size of four times their closest competitor. They also have a 270,000 square foot facility in Phoenix, Arizona.
In March 2009, GoDaddy added pro-golfer Anna Rawson.
In August 2009, another GoDaddy Girl was announced. A Russian native, Marina Orlova is an online linguist, explaining the origins of words on her website.
In 2010, GoDaddy added personal trainer Jillian Michaels as a GoDaddy Girl. Michaels is known for her role as a coach on NBC's show, "The Biggest Loser".
In 2013, Jean-Claude Van Damme starred in a series of GoDaddy commercials. In these, he is seen doing the splits while playing musical instruments before he appears upside down in front of the business owner and whispers, "It's Go Time."
GoDaddy started advertising in the Super Bowl in 2005. Since then, the company has expanded its marketing to include sports sponsorships.
GoDaddy's 2007 Super Bowl XLI advertisement was criticized in The New York Times as being "cheesy"; in National Review as "raunchy, 'Girls-Gone-Wild' style"; and "just sad" by Barbara Lippert in Adweek, who gave the advertisement a "D" grade.
The 2008 Super Bowl XLII GoDaddy advertisement received a negative response from the press. Adweek's Barbara Lippert described it as a "poorly produced scene in a living room where people are gathered to watch the Super Bowl. As we watch them watch, a guy at his computer in the corner of the room drags the crowd over to GoDaddy.com to view the banned ad instead." Lippert also said, "it will probably produce a Pavlovian response in getting actual viewers in their own living rooms to do the same."
In 2009, GoDaddy purchased spots for two different commercials featuring GoDaddy Girl and IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick for Super Bowl XLIII. In "Shower", Danica takes a shower with Simona Fusco Stratten as three college students control the women's maneuvers from a computer. "Baseball" is a spoof of the steroids scandal. While "Shower" won GoDaddy's online vote, "Baseball" was the most popular of the Super Bowl. Both helped increase domain registrations 110 percent above 2008 post Super Bowl levels. GoDaddy posted Internet-only versions of its commercials during the game, which were extended versions containing more risque content. "Baseball" was the most watched Super Bowl commercial according to TiVo, Inc. According to comScore, GoDaddy ranked first in advertiser Web site follow-through. Rob Goulding, head of business-to-business markets for Google, offered an in-depth analysis of Super Bowl spots that aired during Sunday's championship game. He said the most successful were multichannel-oriented, driving viewers to Web sites and "focusing on conversion as never before". GoDaddy experienced significant Web traffic and a strong "hangover" effect of viewer interest in the days that followed due to a provocative "teaser" advertisement pointing to the Web, Goulding said.
GoDaddy also advertised during the 2010 Super Bowl XLIV, purchasing two spots. The commercials "Spa" and "News" starred GoDaddy Girl and racecar driver Danica Patrick. In "Spa," Patrick is getting a lavish massage when the masseuse breaks into a spontaneous GoDaddy Girl audition. In "News", anchors conduct a 'gotcha' interview with GoDaddy Girl Danica Patrick about commercials known for being too hot for television. According to Akamai, there was a large spike in Internet traffic late in the fourth quarter of the game. This spike was tied to GoDaddy's "News" advertisement airing. CEO Bob Parsons said GoDaddy received "a tremendous surge in Web traffic, sustained the spike, converted new customers and shot overall sales off the chart".
In 2011-2013, GoDaddy moved away from salacious advertising practices in an attempt to improve its brand image. In 2016, GoDaddy did not advertise during the Super Bowl for the first time in over a decade, but returned in 2017 with their "The Internet Wants You" campaign.
In 2009 and 2010, GoDaddy advertised during the Indianapolis 500.
For the Las Vegas race in 2011, GoDaddy created a promotion wherein driver Dan Wheldon would have won $2.5m each for himself and fan Ann Babenco if he won the race, starting from last place. A 15-car pileup, 12 laps into the race, injured 4 drivers and killed Wheldon.
GoDaddy sponsored Brad Keselowski in the #25 for Hendrick Motorsports on a limited basis in the Sprint Cup series (owing to the "part-time rookie exemption" to a four-car limit). After a successful 2008 season, GoDaddy is expanding its 2009 NASCAR sponsorship with the JR Motorsports organisation, sponsoring 20 Nationwide Series races as primary sponsor, split between the #5 and #88 teams. The #88 deal gave Keselowski a full 35-race NASCAR Nationwide Series sponsorship for 2009 split with Delphi and Unilever. GoDaddy will also be the primary sponsor for seven races in the Sprint Cup Series with Keselowski driving. GoDaddy.com signed a one-year deal with Darlington Raceway to sponsor the 53rd Annual Rebel 500, the fifth-oldest race on the Sprint Cup circuit. Keselowski got his third Nationwide victory at Dover – his first in the #88 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. In the same season, Keselowski scored a second Nationwide victory in the #88 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet at the first ever NASCAR race at Iowa Speedway and then at Michigan.
For 2010, the Hendrick/GoDaddy association continued; Danica Patrick drove a 12 race schedule in the #7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, while GoDaddy.com was also the primary sponsor for Mark Martin in the #5 Chevrolet Impala for most of the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
In 2012, Danica Patrick moved from the IndyCar Racing Series to race full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in the #7 and part-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the #10 for Stewart Haas Racing where GoDaddy.com was the primary sponsor for the full season on both cars. After finishing 10th in the Nationwide Series standings with one pole award in 2012, Patrick moved to full-time in the Sprint Cup Series in 2013 where GoDaddy sponsored her full season schedule. Patrick rewarded GoDaddy for their sponsorship by winning the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500, becoming the first woman to do so.
GoDaddy chose not to continue its sponsorship of NASCAR in 2016, intending to shift sponsorship to avenues with greater international reach. However, GoDaddy is trying to retain Patrick on a personal service contract.
From 2011 to 2015, GoDaddy was the sponsor of the GoDaddy Bowl, a postseason college football bowl game played in Mobile, Alabama, which was previously branded as the GMAC Bowl before GMAC took TARP funding in 2009. The game matched teams from the Sun Belt Conference and the Mid-American Conference. The bowl was renamed the Dollar General Bowl after the variety store chain Dollar General took over its sponsorship in 2016.
In 2009 GoDaddy donated $50,000 to the Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA in Arizona when the organization requested only $1,000. In December 2009 at GoDaddy's annual Holiday Party, Executive Chairman and Founder Bob Parsons and Danica Patrick announced that GoDaddy would be donating $500,000 to the Phoenix-based UMOM New Day Center to fund the Danica Patrick GoDaddy.com Domestic Violence Center.
An order was placed with Orange County Choppers for a custom motorcycle to raise contributions for charity. This was documented by the reality show American Chopper.
On December 22, 2011, a thread was started on the social news website Reddit, discussing the identity of supporters of the United States Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which included GoDaddy. GoDaddy subsequently released additional statements supporting SOPA. A boycott and transfer of domains was proposed. This quickly spread across the Internet, gained support, and was followed by a proposed Boycott GoDaddy day on December 29, 2011. One strong supporter of this action was Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh, who threatened that the organization would remove over 1,000 domains from GoDaddy if they continued their support of SOPA. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales also announced that all Wikipedia domains would be moved away from GoDaddy as their position on SOPA was "unacceptable". After a brief campaign on Reddit, imgur owner Alan Schaaf transferred his domain from GoDaddy.
GoDaddy pulled its support for SOPA on December 23, releasing a statement saying "GoDaddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it." Later that day, CEO Warren Adelman couldn’t commit to changing GoDaddy's position on the record in Congress when asked, but said “I’ll take that back to our legislative guys, but I agree that’s an important step.” when pressed, he said “We’re going to step back and let others take leadership roles.” He felt that the public statement removing their support would be sufficient for now, though further steps would be considered. Further outrage was due to the fact that many Internet sites and domain registrars would be subject to shutdowns under SOPA, but GoDaddy is in a narrow class of exempted businesses that would have immunity, where many other domain operators would not.
On December 25, 2011 (Christmas Day), GoDaddy lost a net 16,191 domains as a result of the boycott. However, on December 29 (the day of the proposed boycott), GoDaddy gained a net 20,748 domains.
On January 24, 2007, GoDaddy deactivated the domain of computer security site Seclists.org, taking 250,000 pages of security content offline. The shutdown resulted from a complaint from MySpace to GoDaddy regarding 56,000 user names and passwords posted a week earlier to the full-disclosure mailing list and archived on the Seclists.org site as well as many other websites. Seclists.org administrator Gordon Lyon, who goes by the handle "Fyodor", provided logs to CNET News.com showing GoDaddy de-activated the domain 52 seconds after leaving him a voicemail and he had to go to great lengths to get the site reactivated. GoDaddy general counsel Christine Jones stated that GoDaddy's terms of service "reserves the right to terminate your access to the services at any time, without notice, for any reason whatsoever." The site seclists.org is now hosted with Linode. The suspension of seclists.org led Lyon to create NoDaddy.com, a consumer activist website where dissatisfied GoDaddy customers and whistleblowers from GoDaddy's staff share their experiences. On July 12, 2011, an article in The Register reported that, shortly after Bob Parsons' sale of GoDaddy, the company purchased gripe site No Daddy. The site had returned a top 5 result on Google for a search for GoDaddy.
On March 11, 2008, GoDaddy shut down RateMyCop.com — a RateMyProfessors-type site where people would comment on their interactions with law enforcement officers. Some reports said there had been complaints from police. A GoDaddy spokesperson said, "Basically, he was paying for compact car, when he really needed a semi-truck." The registrar for the name, Name.com, continued to allow the DNS to resolve, and it is now hosted at Lunarpages. GoDaddy stated the reason for shutting down the Web site had nothing to do with censorship or complaints but that the site was receiving too many simultaneous connections. In 2006, GoDaddy locked access to the Irish Web site RateYourSolicitor.com after the Irish high court issued an order to remove offensive material about a barrister from the site.
On December 19, 2006, GoDaddy received a third party complaint of invalid domain contact information in the WHOIS database for the domain FamilyAlbum.com. GoDaddy wrote a letter to the owner of FamilyAlbum.com saying, "Whenever we receive a complaint, we are required by ICANN regulations to initiate an investigation as to whether the contact data displaying in the WHOIS database is valid data or not... On 12/19/2006 we sent a notice to you at the admin/tech contact email address and the account email address informing you of invalid data in breach of the domain registration agreement and advising you to update the information or risk cancellation of the domain. The contact information was not updated within the specified period of time and we canceled the domain." The editor of "Domain Name Wire" said that since domain names are valuable it was reasonable to expect that the registrar would try to contact the domain owner by phone or postal mail. On February 28, 2007, GoDaddy offered to get the domain name back for the previous owner if he would indemnify GoDaddy from legal action by the new registrant. GoDaddy stated that the new owner paid $18.99 for the domain, the price of a backorder, not a regular registration. On November 2, 2007, Domain Name Wire reported that it appears that GoDaddy no longer cancels domains for invalid WHOIS. The editor on Domain Name Wire received a message from a reader who is trying to acquire a domain with obviously false WHOIS information. The message from GoDaddy said, "The domain has been suspended due to invalid WHOIS. The domain will remain in suspension through expiration, including the registry's redemption period, unless the owner updates the contact information before that time."
In July, 2011, GoDaddy introduced a policy of blocking DNS queries from some outside DNS servers, in order to prevent other DNS queries from being too slow. Among other things, this prevents some bots from visiting websites, forcing some search engines to exclude domains hosted with GoDaddy. This policy affects search engine ranking for various GoDaddy customers who have multiple domains with different registrars. GoDaddy has refused to comment on the policy or the perception that their servers cannot handle the load or they are giving preference to their platinum level customers. It has also interfered with projects that collect Internet statistics.
On August 16, 2011, after the policy was introduced, it appears that GoDaddy blocked recursive DNS servers in China, preventing Chinese visitors from reaching websites using GoDaddy DNS hosting.
In 2011, animal rights groups including PETA complained when a video of Bob Parsons shooting and killing an elephant at night in Zimbabwe was made by Parsons and posted on his personal blog. PETA said they would be closing their account with GoDaddy.
On January 27, 2015 GoDaddy released its Super Bowl ad on YouTube. Called "Journey Home", the commercial featured a Retriever puppy named Buddy who was bounced out of the back of a truck. After making a journey home his owners are relieved because they just sold him on their website. GoDaddy claims the ad was supposed to be funny and an attempt to make fun of all the puppies shown in Super Bowl ads. Most notably, Budweiser's famous Super Bowl ad also featured a Retriever puppy. The ad found very few fans from the online community. Animal advocates took to social media calling the ad disgusting, callous and that the commercial advocated puppy mills. An online petition collected 42,000 signatures. All ads were listed as "Private" on their YouTube channel.
GoDaddy's CEO, Blake Irving, wrote a blog later that day promising that the commercial would not air during the Super Bowl. He wrote on his blog "At the end of the day, our purpose at GoDaddy is to help small businesses around the world build a successful online presence. We hoped our ad would increase awareness of that cause. However, we underestimated the emotional response. And we heard that loud and clear." He goes on to say that Buddy was purchased by a reputable breeder and is part of the GoDaddy family as Chief Companion Officer.
In March 2010, GoDaddy stopped registering .cn domains (China) due to the high amount of personal information that is required to register in that country. Some called it a public relations campaign, since it closely followed Google's revolt in China. GoDaddy’s top lawyer Christine Jones told Congress, “We were having to contact Chinese users to ask for their personal information and begrudgingly give it to Chinese authorities. We decided we didn’t want to become an agent of the Chinese government.”
On September 10, 2012, a major networking failure caused by corrupted router tables resulted in a DNS outage intermittently affecting millions of customers' sites for a period of 4.5 hours. Initial reports attributed it to a DDOS attack. This claim was disputed by Wagner, who stated that the isolated incident was due to internal mistakes that led to corrupt data tables. Wagner stood by the quality of GoDaddy's infrastructure, citing a 99.999% uptime. GoDaddy later said in an apology e-mail to its customers on September 14, 2012, that the outage was due to the corruption of router data tables, confirming indications that millions of web sites and e-mails were affected.
In 2002, GoDaddy sued VeriSign for domain slamming and again in 2003 over its Site Finder service. This latter suit caused controversy over VeriSign's role as the sole maintainer of the .com and the .net top-level domains. VeriSign shut down Site Finder after receiving a letter from ICANN ordering it to comply with a request to disable the service. In 2006, GoDaddy was sued by Web.com for patent infringement.
The rival domain name registrar NameCheap claimed that GoDaddy was in violation of ICANN rules by providing incomplete information in order to hinder the protest moves of domain names from GoDaddy to NameCheap, an accusation which GoDaddy denied, claiming that it was following its standard business practice to prevent WHOIS abuse. GoDaddy still maintains the strict policy of 60 days lock in inter registrar domain transfers, if there was a change in registrant information. Many other registrars are giving an option for their customers to opt out from this 60 days lock as per the ICANN Policy which says. "The Registrar must impose a 60-day inter-registrar transfer lock following a Change of Registrant, provided, however, that the Registrar may allow the Registered Name Holder to opt out of the 60-day inter-registrar transfer lock prior to any Change of Registrant request".
On April 12, 2006, Marketwatch reported that GoDaddy.com, Inc., had hired Lehman Brothers to manage an initial stock offering that could raise more than $100 million and value the company at several times that amount. On May 12, 2006, GoDaddy filed an S-1 registration statement prior to an initial public offering. On August 8, 2006, Bob Parsons, announced that he had withdrawn the company's IPO filing due to "market uncertainties".
In September 2010, GoDaddy put itself up for auction. GoDaddy called off the auction several weeks later, despite reports that bids exceeded the asking price of $1.5 billion to $2 billion. On June 24, 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported that private-equity firms KKR and Silver Lake Partners, along with a third investor, were nearing a deal to buy the company for between $2–2.5 billion. On July 1, 2011, GoDaddy confirmed that KKR, Silver Lake Partners, and Technology Crossover Ventures had closed the deal. Although the purchase price was not officially announced it was reported to be $2.25 billion, for 65% of the company.
As of December 2011, Bob Parsons stepped down as CEO into the role of Executive Chairman.
In June 2014, GoDaddy once again filed a 100 million dollar IPO with the Security and Exchange Commission. The filing gave an inside look into GoDaddy's finances and showed that the company has not made a profit since 2009 and since 2012 has experienced a total loss of $531 million. Along with the IPO announcement, GoDaddy's founder Bob Parsons announced he is stepping down as Executive Chairman though he will remain on the board. Current CEO Blake Irving, joined GoDaddy on January 6, 2013.