GoDaddy said its Super Bowl commercial, which aired yesterday, resulted in its “best ever” Sunday for new customers.
The company said in a press release it had seen its “its best-ever Sunday for attracting new customers in the books”.
That doesn’t necessarily mean it sold more domains than its previous Super Bowl efforts, nor that it made more money.
It seems the web site builder service GoCentral, which is currently offered with a free trial period, accounted for “about half” of these new customers.
GoCentral was the subject of the ad, in which the abstract concept of “The Internet” is embodied as an irritating hipster. It can be viewed here:
GoDaddy today said that its revenue for 2016 topped $1.8 billion.
In a preliminary disclosure to the markets ahead of its formal February 15 earnings announcement, the registrar said that annual revenue for 2016 is expected to come in at $1.84 billion.
That compares to $1.6 billion in 2015.
Its fourth-quarter revenue is expected to be $486 million, up from $425 million in the fourth quarter of 2015.
GoDaddy said that at the end of the year it had $573 million in cash and equivalents and just over a $1 billion in long-term debt.
Go Daddy VP of domains Rich Merdinger has been appointed interim chair of the Domain Name Association, replacing Neustar’s Adrian Kinderis.
In a blog post, Merdinger said the DNA will become more “vocal” under its new leadership and outlined three priorities for 2017 — awareness, adoption and access.
He said the DNA will share ways businesses can pursue a strategy of “blending” TLD types in their online activities, promote domains as search engine optimization tools, and make it easier for DNA members to participate.
There will be a new series of DNA Virtual Town Hall meetings to facilliate communication. Merdinger wrote:
Expect to see a more vocal DNA – whether it is at the next virtual town hall or learning about new research on domain name strategies and their business impact. As Interim Chair, I will be working with our leadership team on ways to spotlight how domain names are being used strategically and tactically to support business objectives in 2017 and beyond.
He replaces Kinderis, formerly CEO of AusRegistry/ARI/Bombora, who is now, post-acquisition, VP of corporate development at Neustar.
Kinderis, DNA’s founding chair in April 2013, will remain on the DNA’s board of directors, representing Neustar.
It’s interesting that Merdinger’s appointment to chair is being linked with the DNA becoming more “vocal”.
While Merdinger certainly isn’t a shrinking violet, Kinderis, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me saying, is one of the bluntest, mouthiest guys in the industry.
That said, GoDaddy has name recognition and has proven to be a bit of a headline magnet over the last decade or so.
It surely has a higher profile among would-be registrants — a big part of the DNA’s audience — than Neustar, which isn’t primarily a domain name company or even necessarily primarily an internet company.
The DNA will continue to operate without an in-house staff, having dumped its second executive director earlier this year in favor of outsourcing to a trade group management company, to cut costs.
GoDaddy is to substantially increase the size of its European operation with the $1.79 billion acquisition of Host Europe Group.
The market-leading registrar confirmed yesterday earlier reports that it was on track to buy HEG, which counts several big-name British and German registrars among its brands.
The deal is worth €1.69 billion ($1.79 billion), which breaks down to €605 million to HEG shareholders and €1.08 billion in debt. It’s expected to close in the second quarter next year.
HEG’s domain brands include 123Reg and DomainMonster in the UK and DomainFactory in Germany.
The company says it has 1.7 million customers and manages over seven million domains.
But the acquisition is more concerned with HEG’s higher-margin small business hosting business, where the company has nine data centers in Europe and the US.
GoDaddy said in a press release:
Combining GoDaddy’s global technology platform with HEG’s footprint in Europe will enable the rapid deployment of a broader range of products to customers and allow for better scale of product development and go-to-market investments across both companies.
One part of the HEG business, the $92 million-a-year PlusServer, is likely to be sold off, however.
GoDaddy said that unit “serves larger, more mature companies that require a dedicated field sales force and account management”, which is not GoDaddy’s core strength.
The deal means that GoDaddy will become the owner of the annual NamesCon conference, which HEG picked up in August for an undisclosed amount.
The acquisition is unlikely to have closed before this coming January’s NamesCon, so there’s unlikely to be many obvious changes to the 2017 event.
GoDaddy said the acquisition is being financed by debt.
HEG’s current owner is private equity firm Cinven, which paid $545 million in 2013.
GoDaddy is reportedly talking to Host Europe Group, one of Europe’s largest registrars, about an acquisition.
Reuters today reported that the deal, should it go ahead, could be worth as much as $1.8 billion.
GoDaddy has been favored over rival bids from United Internet (owner of United-Domains) and buyout firm Centerbridge, Reuters said.
HEG is the parent company for several registrar brands. Notably, it owns 123-reg and DomainMonster, two of the UK’s largest registrars.
123-reg had over 900,000 gTLD domains on its books at the last count. HEG overall says it manages over seven million domains.
The company was acquired by private equity group Cinven for £438 million ($545 million) in 2013.
It has 1.7 million customers and 1,300 employees spread across eight countries. It primarily operates in the UK and Germany.
HEG had 2015 revenue of €269.8 million ($286.3 million) and made a loss of €55.6 million ($59 million).
For GoDaddy, the acquisition is a chance to shift its revenue mix away from domains and more towards the more profitable hosting market, according to Reuters.