TL; DR: In the two decades since GoDaddy began delivering affordable domain registration services, the company’s mission has remained the same — to democratize the web for small businesses. Today, GoDaddy is much more than a domain registrar, helping businesses enhance online presence, improve communication, and boost productivity. With an increased focus on helping SMBs in emerging economies thrive online, the company is committed to leveling the digital playing field on a global scale. As a result, we’re recognizing GoDaddy with our Developers’ Choice Award™ for breaking down the barriers of entry into online markets.
If you wanted a domain name in 1995, you had to buy it from Network Solutions. It’s hard to imagine such a monopoly existing today, but GoDaddy Founder Bob Parsons and his team experienced it firsthand when searching for a way to bring their SMB clients online at the time.
“They came from a consumer marketing background where they worked with small businesses for many years,” said Steven Aldrich, Chief Product Officer at GoDaddy. “They went online to find out how to get a domain name and discovered Network Solutions was the only provider, charging more than $70 for two years.”
The team knew prices didn’t have to be that high. “The domain names really only cost a few dollars a year,” Steven said. “So the team thought, ‘Well, let’s go help democratize the web for these small businesses.’”
They found an opportunity to do just that in 1999, when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) opened the doors for new registrars, ending Network Solutions’ six-year reign.
Bob and his team had operated under Jomax Technologies since 1997 but changed the company’s name to GoDaddy in 1999. In 2000, GoDaddy became an ICANN-accredited registrar and began providing domain names at 70% less than what industry leaders were charging.
Still, getting sites online at that time was a complicated process for many. “You needed some serious horsepower to get a website up and running,” Steven said. “Our goal was to make it incredibly simple for folks to bring their ideas to life on the web.”
That mission drives the company to this day. “There have been many changes in the industry and within the company over the last 20-plus years, but what’s remained remarkably consistent is the mission to bring the power of the web to everyone,” Steven said.
It’s a noble goal and one that we’ve found deserving of our Developers’ Choice Award™.
Fostering Accessibility: Helping Businesses Enhance Online Presence
Steven said the team’s growth over the last two decades is a direct result of hard work and determination. “We started with no customers, and today we have 18 million,” he said. “We started with no domain names, and today we’ve got something along the lines of 80 million.”
According to Steven, GoDaddy is now the largest global domain provider, running 1 out of every 4 domains worldwide. “But the company’s so much more than domains,” he said. “Customers trust GoDaddy because they worked with us on that core part of their online identity, but we’ve expanded to help them build their online businesses.”
He’s not exaggerating: In addition to domains, the GoDaddy of today provides a website builder; templates; managed WordPress services; shared, virtual, and dedicated hosting; SSL certificates; security tools; online marketing services; and business phone numbers, among other resources.
“People are starting to think, ‘I just want my website to work — I don’t want to worry about playing with buttons, dials, and knobs,’” Steven said. “If a customer has a traffic spike, for example, they would prefer we just handle it.”
Steven told us he’s especially excited about the company’s managed WordPress solutions. “WordPress is the leading global CMS by a huge margin, and we’re continuing to invest in the platform so users who install WordPress on top of their hosting plan won’t have to worry about the rest,” he said.
With WP Premium Support, GoDaddy’s WordPress experts will handle the heavy lifting, including development, theme maintenance, database management, website evaluation, and administrative tasks.
“Business owners are not any greater technology or marketing experts than they were 20 years ago — they’re still just trying to run their businesses,” Steven said. “In those 20 years, at least in my time zone, we didn’t increase the number of hours in a day, either.”
Build Visibility, Enhance Communication, and Boost Productivity
GoDaddy strives to help customers meet a broad set of online presence, productivity, and communication objectives. “Today, if you’re not visible on the web and social media, you’re invisible,” Steven said.
That’s where GoDaddy’s SEO services, which start at $6.99 a month, come in. “Let’s make sure you’ve got the ability not only to have a website that brings your idea to people on the open web, but also that your content is found on the various social media sites and search engines where people are looking for you,” Steven said.
Opening the lines of communication between businesses and their prospective clients is another important consideration. GoDaddy is working to ensure a seamless process in that respect through tools like SmartLine, a smartphone app that gives users a second phone number for business purposes.
“Small business owners are trying to go out and win business,” Steven said. “They’re trying to send proposals. They’re trying to get phone calls from prospects and turn those prospects into customers. So we’ve released a series of communications tools to these customers with basics like business phone numbers.”
The company’s productivity tools include professional email plans, Office 365, and online bookkeeping tools. “On the productivity side, if a company grows and adds more employees, our platform is scalable in terms of technologies like email or Office,” Steven said. “We’re able to grow with you.”
GoDaddy still has customers who have been with the company from day one. As the company has grown, these customers have added more services over time. “They’ll add marketing services on top of what they started with for online presence, and that helps them grow even more,” Steven said.
Ease Tech Burdens and Focus on Changing Customer Expectations
Steven told us the company’s managed service offerings can serve as somewhat of a virtual employee for industries of all shapes and sizes. He recently helped the owner of a 90,000-square-foot ice skating and laser tag arena build an online presence without the need to hire a sysadmin or developer.
“They wanted people to visit their website, get information about their hours, and really get a sense of what the experience will be like when they show up,” Steven said. “Our vision for projects like this is to create content that a business can propagate across the world without having to worry about anything technical.”
GoDaddy has these types of conversations with customers every day. In most cases, businesses are looking for a trusted partner who will answer their questions and help them choose the right products.
“That is, for me, the most exciting thing that we do — level the playing field for these customers who are so excited about what they do every day,” Steven said. “These are self-made small businesses that rely upon the capabilities of companies like GoDaddy to become successful — and that’s a huge responsibility that we take really seriously.”
The company’s mission is to ensure that the effort clients put into building their online presence pays off. “If your website can book appointments for you, sell your products, and talk about how great your service is through the eyes of existing customers, that’s going to grow your business,” Steven said.
Clients also turn to GoDaddy to stay in step with an ever-evolving industry — whether that means ensuring content looks great on mobile devices or providing the latest security measures.
Future Investments in Connectivity, Security, and the Global Economy
As the company continues to grow, it will invest in making it even easier to build an effective online presence.
“We’re working to tie our various services together more tightly,” Steven said. “We’ve been doing a nice job of helping folks build a website, embed SEO, and embed a social presence, and we want to create even more connectivity between applications.”
Interconnectivity between a company’s communications system and its website will be a significant focus for GoDaddy, which plans to weave additional email marketing, appointment scheduling, and eCommerce tools into its sites. “The idea is to make it easy for business owners and employees to run their business and not have to worry about stitching stuff together,” Steven said.
GoDaddy will also pay close attention to advancements in security to further protect customers from online threats. “There’s obviously risk in the world, and we want to make sure that we do everything we can to protect users from that risk: protect their data, protect their site, protect their customers,” Steven said.
Today, GoDaddy serves customers in almost every country in the world. As the company expands, its goal is to bring even more features to countries in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Latin America, among other locations. The company strives to level the playing field for small businesses in emerging economies to create more opportunities for people around the world.
“We have a strong belief that the world is a better place when people feel passion for what they do every day,” Steven said.
The mission certainly echoes the commitment the company made two decades prior: to democratize the web for these small businesses.