As most companies start to slow down this time of the year ahead of the holidays, it seems that GoDaddy (NYSE: GDDY) is doing the opposite. Take its $1.9 billion acquisition of Host Europe Group for example, announced at the beginning of December.
Now GoDaddy is making another move in its hosting division with the appointment of Raghu Murthi as its new head of hosting, succeeding Jeff King, who is moving onto new opportunities after being with GoDaddy since March 2013.
Murthi tells The WHIR that he has been working in the technology industry for over 25 years. Previously, Murthi served as VP of Amazon’s Kindle division, and worked as GM of XBOX Kinect at Microsoft. Earlier in his career, Murthi worked at Intel, building core server products that a lot of the hosting and cloud companies use today.
“The excitement of focusing on SMBs is one of the big motivators that brought me to GoDaddy. I love GoDaddy’s mission of enabling small and medium-businesses to be much more successful and grow and deliver better products and services to their customers,” Murthi says. “I felt that it was a great opportunity for me to come and join GoDaddy and build on what has Jeff has built here.”
WordPress Investments to Continue
Murthi’s recent experience in consumer tech will serve him well at GoDaddy, who over the years has worked to simplify technology to help its small and medium-sized business customers launch websites and online shops while building out its portfolio to address the more advanced needs of web professionals, including investments in expanding its WordPress offerings. In that area, GoDaddy acquired WP Curve at the start of December in a deal that complements its Managed WordPress offering and recent ManageWP acquisition.
“We have made great strides in the last quarter with launching our managed WordPress product and that will be one of the key pillars that we will continue to drive,” Murthi says. “The WP Curve acquisition will deliver better products and services for the web pros.”
King says, “[W]hen we looked at 2016 strategy a year ago about where we were going to make our big investment in hosting and it was all about WordPress. We have done a ton that you can see and even more that you can’t where we have built what we think is a really strong WordPress platform.”
While it’s still early days for the managed WordPress service, Murthi says that it is exceeding GoDaddy’s expectations; “we are excited to see the signups that are coming through, excited to see people bringing websites to other managed products to ours, and signing on our services,” he says.
From King’s perspective, the most important thing GoDaddy is focusing on when it comes to WordPress is onboarding.
“It still takes a new person too much effort to get their [WordPress] site published. GoDaddy is investing hugely in the first-use experience,” King says. “We are incredibly excited about the results we’ve seen from that. We’ve changed the onboarding flow for WordPress.”
GoDaddy is also building out its WordPress team, hiring half a dozen people from the industry including core contributors for the WordPress project.
Host Europe Group Joins GoDaddy
GoDaddy announced its acquisition of Host Europe Group on Dec. 6, in a huge bet to expand its international presence which the company has been steadily building since 2012 in Europe, Australia, Asia, and Canada.
“From a synergy perspective we are very excited with the opportunity to work with the leadership at Host Europe Group to build on the core services, domains, hosting, other services to deliver to SMBs in U.S. and rest of the world,” Murthi says. “We think it’s a great merger between the two companies and it’s a great opportunity for us to build on establishing a solid base in Europe.”
King says GoDaddy plans to “breathe a ton of life into the HEG brands.”
“It clearly shows we are investing billions of dollars in the market. The business is growing. If you look at GoDaddy’s results from last quarter our hosting growth is 15.5 percent, which we think is growing faster than the market,” King says.
In its last reported quarter, GoDaddy reported $129.2 million in international revenue, up 21 percent year over year.
Aside from doubling down on WordPress, GoDaddy plans to build on its OpenStack investments in 2017.
“For us 2017 is where we’re going to get real leverage from the OpenStack investment that we made in 2016,” King says, which include a new set of cloud server products that build on the OpenStack platform.
Murthi says, “[W]e firmly believe that hosting services, done the right way, are very exciting and there’s a growth opportunity here as we bring on small and medium businesses online.”
While Murthi is based in Kirkland, he will spend time with teams in Arizona and California, while also visiting customers.
“I am looking forward to meeting more and more small and medium-sized businesses and trying to understand their needs,” he says. “Small and medium businesses are the core of any economy around the world.”