Can the Go Daddy Girls Convince You They're Serious?

Go Daddy wants to be known for more than domain names and racy Superbowl ads. The company has built large businesses around Web hosting and other services for companies of all sizes. But can it really have it both ways?

At a recent meeting in ReadWriteWeb’s San Francisco headquarters, new Go Daddy CEO Warren Adelman delighted in reeling off the company’s impressive numbers: almost $1.4 billion in sales, 53 million domains registered, 5 million websites hosted, and so on. Go Daddy is as big as the next eight competitors combined, Adleman said, and gets more than half of all new domain registrations.

But the company, which was bought by private equity firms for $2.25 billion last year has even bigger aspirations. “We don’t want to move away from that,” Adelman said, but “we think we can do more than serve that segment.”

Servers or Celebrities?

“People think we’re a bunch of guys down in Arizona” with domain names and Super Bowls ads, he said, but there are “sections of the site to address the needs of different communities… We have offerings for the tech community, for the developer community.”

Overcoming those perceptions among seasoned techies won’t be easy, though. Questions like “you’re still using Go Daddy?” are often posed to tech start ups. And really, it’s Go Daddy’s own fault.

No matter what its actual technology credentials, the company spent millions of dollars promoting Go Daddy Girls, not cloud infrastructure (4GH Cloud Hosting) or online storage. Even companies that use those services might think twice about explaining why to the CEO. And that’s especially true the larger, and more sophisticated the company.

Adelman acknowledges “some amount of polarization” around the Go Daddy brand, but believes that the company’s scale more than makes up for any negative perceptions. Go Daddy is big enough to enjoy massive economies of scale, and to create a full suite of add-on products for all kinds of customers. Domian names, website hosting and site-building tools, SSL certificates, marketing tools like search engine optimization, search engine marketing, email marketing and social media. “It’s like selling hot dogs at the ballpark,” Adelman said. Sixty six percent of Go Daddy customers have a product in addition to a domain name, he said.

An App Threat?

Why the tech push now? Although Adelman says it kept growing through the recession, the reason for the push could be the gradual move to mobile apps instead of websites, a transition that threatens Go Daddy’s core business. But Adelman says he’s not worried. “The Web will die a slower death than predicted,” he said, adding that given the hype cycle and the rise of HTML5, it might not be long before you start hearing that “the App World is dead.”