What is Web Hosting Giant Go Daddy Looking for in a New CEO?

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It has been a month since Go Daddy first revealed that CEO Warren Adelman would step down, replaced temporarily by KKR Capstone executive Scott Wagner while the board searches for a permanent CEO.

Adelman’s tenure as CEO was briefer than some expected – roughly a year. He took over from founder Bob Parsons following the announcement of Go Daddy’s acquisition by KKR, Silver Lake Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures in June of 2011.

Considering the formidable size of Go Daddy – which earned $894.3 million in revenue last year and has 10.4 million customers worldwide – finding a successor to Adelman is a big job. So is the CEO job itself.

In an interview with the WHIR late in 2011, Adelman discussed his role in the important task of preserving the important Go Daddy company culture (an often-controversial and always-irreverent approach to advertising, as well as many internal processes and practices) through the acquisition and any organizational changes that would follow.

For whomever takes on the CEO job, a big challenge will be maintaining the essence of what made Go Daddy successful, while taking the company in some new directions that have emerged since the deal.

“The board’s running a search,” says interim CEO Wagner in a phone interview with the WHIR. “This is about continuing to ensure our customers build up their businesses and succeed online. What does that mean? It means intelligent geographic expansion, continuing to invest and round out our product portfolio, both through acquisitions and investments like Outright, and continuing to build on our strengths. “

Since the acquisition, as Wagner suggests, Go Daddy has extended its business in a few of key ways that weren’t necessarily business as usual for the web hosting giant. In July, Go Daddy acquired the aforementioned Outright, a financial management application.

It was Go Daddy’s first non hosting-related acquisition, but with Outright’s more than 200,000 small business customers, the deal represents both an opportunity to offer core Go Daddy services to those new customers, as well as a much larger opportunity to provide an added small-business service to the millions of customers using Go Daddy’s hosting and domain services through Outright’s software.

Though Go Daddy will continue to run Outright as a separate business, Go Daddy will eventually move the company on to its infrastructure platform, says Wagner.

Since the acquisition, Wagner says he has been working with Go Daddy to build up the web host’s international strategy, starting with growing its presence in the India market. Go Daddy officially opened its Hyderabad-based customer care facility in July, and the center has already received more than 10,000 calls.

With over a quarter of Go Daddy’s revenue, and nearly 35 percent of its customers, coming from outside of the United States, Wagner says that Go Daddy truly sees itself as an international company.

Since January, Go Daddy’s customer base in India has grown by 52 percent to reach more than 120,000 customers.

“The keys to success in India are the things that have really been an advantage here in the United States are bend-over-backwards service and taking care of our customers. And have wonderful support that gets it done no matter what, and present and offer domains .com and .in are both important, and were able to present those two together, which is certainly a benefit to any business in India, in a localized way, and putting local marketing and local market knowledge in place.”

With major efforts going into new businesses, and new markets, it’s hard to imagine there’s a more significant gig currently hiring in the hosting business than the Go Daddy CEO. And the decision made by the new ownership will obviously have a huge impact on the company’s success in its new efforts, as well as how closely it stays to its established personality.

There’s no doubt that where Go Daddy goes will influence the business, certainly for the fact that the company is the most well-known hosting business, and no less because of the company’s ability to influence what the average user expects from a web hosting provider.

Talk back: How much potential does a new CEO have to influence what we’ve come to expect from Go Daddy? Is the new ownership taking Go Daddy in the right direction? Any recommendations for the CEO job? Let us know in the comments.

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