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Customers revolt as GoDaddy buys WordPress tools outfit

Kevin Murphy, September 7, 2016, Domain Registrars

GoDaddy has acquired ManageWP, a provider of software for managing large numbers of WordPress sites, leading to hundreds of complaints from customers.

The two companies announced yesterday that the deal will see GoDaddy integrate ManageWP into its existing suite of WordPress services.

ManageWP said pricing will be unaffected by the move, and that its service will continue to be available to customers using other hosting providers.

Despite these assurances, a few hundred ManageWP customers have over the last 24 hours expressed their dismay in comments on the company’s site.

“This is like my very best friend announcing they’re marrying the arsehole in the office,” wrote one commenter.

ManageWP customers are generally web developers who manage WordPress sites for multiple clients.

The service gives them the ability, for free, to manage these sites from a single console, rather than having to log in to each one individually.

For an extra couple of bucks per site per month, features such as daily backups and white-label client reports are available.

ManageWP said its product development roadmap will remain unchanged, and that GoDaddy may offer some currently premium features to its hosting customers for free.

About 8% of ManageWP sites run on GoDaddy, the company said in a blog post.

Despite the positive spin, a great many customers appear to be deeply unhappy that the six-year-old company is joining the Arizona behemoth.

At time of writing, there are already over 300 comments on the ManageWP post announcing the deal, almost all negative.

The bulk of the comments center on GoDaddy’s allegedly poor customer support and its reputation for constantly trying to up-sell products and services.

Here’s a small sample of comments:

I cancelled my account immediately upon reading this news.

I have never dealt with a worse company in my professional life than GoDaddy, and will never do so again. One of my requirements for taking on a new client is moving them off GoDaddy completely.

My main concern from a business perspective is that you are giving away premium features free to GoDaddy hosting customers. That is a direct conflict with the people that offer ManageWP as a service to their clients. The services we provide now seem like they are worth less to our clients who host at GoDaddy.

Bummed about this. The minute I see an up-sell notification slammed in my face trying to get me to join the GoDaddy hosting plan, I’m outta here.

Some of the comments appear to be rooted in experiences during the Bob Parsons era at GoDaddy, which came to an end over five years ago.

Commenters cited “sexist” advertising (largely a thing of the past under current CEO Blake Irving), support for the controversial SOPA legislation (spearheaded by a long-gone general counsel) and that time Parsons shot an elephant.

Many commenters said they will stick around post-acquisition, such is the goodwill ManageWP has earned.

Several ManageWP employees engaged directly with their customers comments. In one response, head of growth Nemanja Aleksic wrote:

the feedback here is something that GoDaddy will definitely need to consider. I’ve been asked by several people why I don’t lock the comments or moderate heavily. This is why. Every single bad and good comment is a ManageWP user whose livelihood could be affected by the acquisition. And every single one of the deserves to be heard.

Personally, as somebody who manages multiple WordPress sites on GoDaddy, but has never used ManageWP, I’m rather looking forward to seeing what the company comes up with.

GoDaddy gets its dot-brand

GoDaddy has become a new gTLD registry with the delegation yesterday of .godaddy.

It’s a dot-brand, so domain name registrations will not be made available to the general public.

In one of the shortest mission statements found in new gTLD applications, the company describes .godaddy like this:

The mission or purpose of the .GODADDY gTLD is strictly for branding protection and internal use. The gTLD .GODADDY will give visitors to any .GODADDY site the assurance that they are truly dealing with Go Daddy and not an imposter or cybersquatter.

GoDaddy has not yet gone live with its nic.godaddy site.

It’s not the first domain name firm to get its own dot-brand. Notably, Neustar and Verisign own .neustar and .verisign.

It’s not the only registrar with a dot-brand, either. France’s OVH got there first with .ovh.

GoDaddy originally applied for two other gTLDs — .home and .casa — but withdrew their applications almost immediately after a shift of company strategy.

GoDaddy grows domain revs 10% in Q1

GoDaddy reported its first quarter numbers last night, which including an almost 10% increase in revenue from domain names.

The market-leading registrar reported a net loss of $18.3 million, smaller than the $43.4 million a year ago, on total revenue of $433.7 million, up 15.3%.

It broke out its revenue from domain names as $218.9 million, up 9.9% on Q1 2015.

Hosting-related services and business applications grew 14.4% and 47.4% respectively, to $160.4 million and $54.4 million.

The company raised its revenue expectations for the year to a range of $1.83 billion to $1.845 billion.

Former GoDaddy VP apes Trump in Congressional bid

Kevin Murphy, May 4, 2016, Gossip

Former GoDaddy general counsel and apparent glutton for punishment Christine Jones is to run for political office for a second time.

She’s looking for the Republican nomination in Arizona’s Fifth Congressional District, she said in an email circular yesterday.

In a video announcing the candidacy, it seems pretty clear she’s taking a leaf out of the Donald Trump playbook by playing the “outsider” card.

“She’s one of us, not a politician,” a talking head says in a totally unrehearsed, unscripted and utterly convincing soundbite.

Much like Trump, she’s also touting the fact that she’s “independently wealthy” and therefore not as reliant on big donors to fund her campaign.

According to Jones’ web site, the most important issues facing Arizonians are border security, Islamic State, abortion (she’s anti-), an overly complex tax system and gun ownership (she’s pro-).

It sounds ridiculous, but this is what passes for mainstream politics in the US nowadays.

The incumbent in the Congressional seat she wants, considered safely Republican, recently announced his retirement, but Jones will face at least three established local politicians in the contest for the nomination.

Jones stood for the Republican nomination for Arizona Governor in 2014, but came third in the seven-strong field, with 16.6% of the vote.

GoDaddy launches mobile app for investors

Kevin Murphy, January 14, 2016, Domain Registrars

GoDaddy has launched a new mobile device app specifically for domain investors.

GoDaddy Investor, as it is called, will enable domainers to monitor watch-lists of expiring domains, as well as bid in and track auctions, the company said.

Authentication is handled via a special PIN system or, on iOS, Apple’s TouchID.

“We worked closely with our domain investors to bring the same great investing experience to mobile that they’ve enjoyed on desktop for years,” Paul Nicks, GoDaddy’s senior director of aftermarket, said in a press release.

The app is available for Android and iOS operating systems and is available via their respective app stores.

GoDaddy did not cybersquat the Oscars, court finds

Kevin Murphy, September 16, 2015, Domain Registrars

In a landmark decision, a US court has ruled that GoDaddy’s practice of parking unused domains with Google advertising does not count as cybersquatting.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which runs the annual Oscars awards, sued the registrar five years ago after seeing that GoDaddy had parked hundreds of names containing its mark.

Under UDRP, registrar parking is controversially often taken as a sign of the registrants bad faith by panelists.

But the California court ruled that GoDaddy’s actions did not amount to trademark infringement due to the unique circumstances of the case.

GoDaddy did not select the advertisements — Google’s algorithms did — nor did it manually review which domains were being parked.

Domain Name Wire has a pretty good breakdown of the key points in the 129-page ruling.

What’s going to be interesting is whether UDRP panelists — which sometimes take their cues from US legal precedent — will start to adjust to view registrar parking in a more benign way when judging registrant bad faith.

GoDaddy getting out of NASCAR, whatever that is

Kevin Murphy, April 30, 2015, Domain Registrars

GoDaddy is dropping its sponsorship of a NASCAR racing car, largely because Johnny Foreigner doesn’t have a clue what NASCAR is.

The company has been sponsoring Stewart-Haas Racing and driver Danica Patrick since 2007; Patrick is a spokesperson appearing in many commercials.

But now GoDaddy says it is dropping the deal at the end of the 2015 season in order to diversify its marketing in growth markets overseas.

It is currently negotiating to keep on Patrick as a spokesperson separately.

NASCAR is a pretty US-centric pass-time, with little recognition overseas. I recall seeing Patrick’s face on a London Underground billboard a few years ago and wondering what on Earth Go Daddy was thinking.

GoDaddy chief marketing officer Phil Bienert said in a press release yesterday:

NASCAR has been a tremendous domestic platform to help us achieve an 81 percent aided brand awareness domestically, but at this stage, we need a range of marketing assets that reach a more globally-diverse set of customers.

GoDaddy said it has presence in 37 countries in 17 languages and “is positioning to fortify its presence in Asia by the end of this year.”

From 2010 to 2012, the company had an Asia-based celebrity spokesperson in actress/singer/model DI.

In related news, I’ve just noticed that GoDaddy no longer uses a space between Go and Daddy in its brand, so DI’s house style will be adjusted accordingly.

Go Daddy applying for three new gTLDs

Go Daddy reportedly plans to apply for three new generic top-level domains, including the dot-brand .godaddy.

CEO Warren Adelman confirmed the bids to CNet’s Paul Sloan today.

The other two strings were not revealed, presumably because they could still be contested.

Yesterday, Demand Media, owner of Go Daddy’s primary registrar competitor eNom, revealed an $18 million investment in the new gTLD program, suggesting it has more ambitious plans.

Like Demand, Go Daddy subsidiaries have a history of adverse UDRP decisions, which could complicate the background checks ICANN plans to conduct on all applicants.

Big claims from small registrar

Kevin Murphy, March 16, 2010, Domain Registrars

You’ve got to admire the cojones on Domainmonster, an upstart registrar from the UK.

In a delightfully hyperbolic press release out today, the company reveals it is “the world’s largest new domain name supplier” and compares itself to Go Daddy.

Because I think it’s funny, I’ll post the meat of the press release before de-constructing it. (continue reading)