Few Internet companies have drawn the amount of controversy that GoDaddy has over the years. If you look at its Wikipedia page, you'll find a huge section specifically dedicated to its controversies with that section having 10 of its own sub-sections.
It goes without saying that people have a lot of questions for CEO Blake Irving, and Irving took to reddit to answer many of them. In fact, he answered some tough ones that many execs probably would have ignored. It's clear that he's trying to put the controversies in the past and make GoDaddy a more respected brand, particularly among small businesses.
Has GoDaddy improved its image in your mind since Irving has taken over? Let us know in the comments.
Irving has been CEO since 2013 having taken the reins after a lot of the aforementioned controversy, and has been focused on moves to pivot the company away from that. Irving hosted a reddit AMA, telling the audience, "In my 2½ years at GoDaddy, we've made considerable progress in bringing big technology to small business around the world—and in being a voice for progress in closing the gender gap in tech."
He added that he's "passionate about building technology that changes the world for the better."
While you can read about each of them in more depth here, the controversies surrounding the company throughout the years include backing SOPA (which led to a boycott), suspension of Seclists.org and purchase of No Daddy, the shutdown of RateMyCop.com, the deletion of FamilyAlbum.com, implementation of a selective DNS blackout policy, former CEO Bob Parsons' killing of an elephant, the halting of registration of China domains, a major service outage in 2012, among others.
That's not to mention all the sexually charged ads the company has run over the year, which have seen their own share of backlash. In fact, in the AMA, his response to a question about that got more upvotes than any others. He was asked if "using overtly sexual advertisements" has been helpful for the brand, he responded:
The old ads helped GoDaddy build massive brand awareness in the US. They weren't helpful to our reputation as an egalitarian provider of services though, and they didn't do enough to tell people what we actually do. One of the first things I did at GoDaddy was pivot the advertising to reflect what we did and who we did it for. When 58% of small businesses in the US are run by women you should reflect the great work they do as small businesses. That's what we've done with our ads over the past two years.
On "support for SOPA/CISPA," Irving said:
That was before my time and the company got it wrong, and we learned from it. The damage to the companies reputation had already been done, of course, but it won’t happen again. CISPA never made it off the ground so there was really no position to take, but GoDaddy didn’t support the direction. I personally never supported SOPA nor CISPA.
On leaving motorsports marketing, he said:
We've gone into 37 countries and 17 languages in the past 20 months and will continue to broaden our offerings internationally. We needed to broaden our marketing spend beyond the US. NASCAR and Indy car are not as well known outside of the US. We have very precise metrics on how these perform outside of the US and inside the US.
He also said Danica Patrick is a "stud," and has "a hell of a strong handshake."
On the future of the new gTLDs:
We’re seeing steady increases in awareness and the first instances of big global brands using the names (like abc.xyz and brand TLDs like home.barclays). We expect this to continue to drive new gTLD sales over time. For the foreseeable future, COM will likely remain the most desired name in the US and outside. It’s universally recognizable around the world. Either way, our goal is to provide the best choices available for each customer and the new gTLDs make getting the perfect name for you much more likely.
That's really just the tip of the iceberg. He left over 65 responses, and really didn't do much dodging of difficult questions. Among the other topics he got into were gender diversity at the company and affirmative action hiring.
Much of the conversation was about how GoDaddy is catering to small businesses. In fact, just last week, they launched some new tools for GoDaddy Online Store.
Irving says that while domainers are an important part of the domain ecosystem, small businesses and personal websites are the large majority of the market. On what's next for the company, he said:
Ultimately, I’d like to see GoDaddy with only one product: business success…and all of our existing products would become features of that singular experience. We’re moving down that path of giving individuals and small and growing businesses a super simple entry to a digital presence, and unique insights about their day-to-day operations, marketing and customers. Imagine giving small businesses the same analytical capabilities that very large enterprises utilize today but oh so much more simple. I love the notion of democratizing big data to empower individuals, entrepreneurs and small business owners. We’ve made a ton of progress toward that vision with our new global platform and the data science that comes with it—and you’ll see a lot more on this theme in the next year or so.
This isn't the first time Irving has done an AMA. Here's one he did last year.
What do you think about Ivring's responses? Do you like the direction the company is taking? Do you (or would you) use their services? Discuss in the comments.
Image via Blake Irving (Twitter)