September 15, 2014

Go Daddy Executive Named COO, Transformation Continues

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Scott Wagner, formerly of private investment firm, KKR Capstone, will stay on as a Go Daddy executive indefinitely. And that suggests that KKR Capstone, which bought 65% of Go Daddy in 2011 along with Silver Lake Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures, will be continuing the transformation of Go Daddy.

The company released an announcement formally confirming Wagner as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer on Wednesday.

Wagner first began working at Go Daddy temporarily after KKR Capstone led the leveraged buyout of GoDaddy for a rumored $2.3 billion.  Wagner stepped in last summer to fill in as interim Chief Executive Officer  after former CEO Warren Adelman stepped down.

“It’s not often you see an operator of Scott’s caliber and experience elect to join the portfolio company he was ‘dropped in’ to assist,” said new CEO Blake Irving in a released statement. “Scott … shares our passion to change the world for small business,” Irving added.

Transformation Into “Small Business Platform” Still Evolving

Go Daddy had been run for 15 years by its founder Bob Parsons, a colorful and sometimes-controversial figure who took heat for shooting elephants.  Parsons still owns a large chunk of the company.

Following the private equity investment, members of KKR Capstone stepped in to run the company and begin its transformation.  In  January of this year they brought in Irving, a former Yahoo and Microsoft executive, to be CEO.

Since Irving’s arrival the company has added executive talent and opened new offices in Sunnyvale, California and near Seattle, Washington.  Just last week the company announced groundbreaking for a technology center in Tempe, Arizona.

Prior to 2012 Go Daddy focused on domain name registration, hosting and related website services.  In a bid to expand the breadth of its products, last summer it acquired Outright, a bookkeeping software for solo small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Today when you go to the home page of Go Daddy, it’s far different than it was one year ago.  Back then, the cluttered home page could be overwhelming unless you were a technologist.  It tended to focus on buying domain names and aggressive upsells. The page had considerable technical terminology that could be baffling to non-technologists.

The home page is much cleaner and simpler these days. It places more emphasis on building a website.  It feels much less intimidating to a small business owner or manager.

Gone also is the emphasis on good-looking women such as Nascar driver and spokesperson Danica Patrick. That  emphasis, along with racy Super Bowl commercials, earned Go Daddy a perceived reputation for being sexist. While the emphasis gave Go Daddy a memorable brand, it was offputting to some women business owners.

Last week CEO Irving said, “GoDaddy is well on its way to being the largest platform for small businesses around the world.”

That transformation still seems to be a work in progress, however, and the company has a long way to go before it’s truly a platform for small businesses.  Go Daddy does not appear to have done much yet with the Outright product it acquired. To be a true platform, Go Daddy will need to provide small businesses with tools for many more business functions beyond online presence and bookkeeping.

Go Daddy has grown since its beginnings as a scrappy startup back in 1997.  Go Daddy’s revenue hit $1.3 billion last year. The company says it serves 11 million customers worldwide with Web hosting and domain registration services and bills itself as the largest provider of these services worldwide.  The company has 3,400 employees worldwide.

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Shawn Hessinger - Editor


Shawn Hessinger Shawn Hessinger is the Editor for Small Business Trends. He is a journalist and social media networker with more than a decade of experience in the traditional newspaper business before moving to the digital world. He was the former community manager of BizSugar and the former community editor at AllAnalytics, a site dedicated to professionals in the business intelligence and analytics community.

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