GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving does Live AMA

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GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving does Live AMA

GoDaddy CEO, Blake Irving answered readers questions on a live Product Hunt AMA, covering a range of topics including cloud computing, international expansion and equal pay within the tech industry.

GoDaddy CEO, Blake Irving answered readers questions on a live Product Hunt AMA, covering a range of topics including cloud computing, international expansion and equal pay within the tech industry. We take a look at some of the more interesting discussion points.

Blake Irving is a veteran in the tech industry, and can be credited to being the man who turned GoDaddy's fortunes around. Before GoDaddy, he was the Chief Prooduct Officer at Yahoo! Prior to Yahoo! he was a Microsoft veteran of 15 years, heading up the Cloud Platform group in charge of teams that built MSN Messenger, Hotmail, and their first billion-dallar ad platform.

Irving joined GoDaddy in 2013, and directed the company to follow a goal to help people follow their life-fulling independent ventures by helping them get online.

It is well worth reading through the AMA yourselves, but we have included a discussion of the more interesting questions and answers below:

Emoji Domains

Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt, kicked off the AMA with a question related to emoji domains. This peaked out interest, as we didn't actually know this "was a thing". Fortunately, GoDaddy has created the site https://xn--qeiaa.ws/ to make it easy to register such domains.

According to that website, emoji domains may be very useful for mobile web browsing, where emoji's are usually on-hand direct from the smartphone's WYSIWYG:

Until now, Emoji Domain names been difficult to register. One has to have a reasonably sophisticated knowledge of punycode and whatnot to even look to see whether domains are available. From there, the setup is a bit of a pain.

We decided to try and load ❤️❤️❤️.ws (this is GoDaddy's website xn--qeiaa.ws in emoji-speak). Unfortunately, while we could locate various hearts in the WYSIWYG, including some red ones, if you don't use the precise emojis then you will be redirected to the wrong website. Sure, it may look fun written down on a website as a link, but anyone can use emoji's as anchor text anyway. We cannot see this catching on. Furthermore, when we added the hearts.ws domain emojis as an actual link, it made this website sufffer a server error!

Irving had this to say:

Emoji domains are great and it’s a place where we've innovated. Personally, I like them because they're short and visual. They work great on mobile. The more opportunity there is to be creative in the domain space, the better. Most companies miss opportunities to integrate domain names into their advertising and really extend to customer experience from the very beginning to the end. Discoverability is still an issue though. They have to become easier to search for on Google.

On a positive note Google will show the emoji's in the search results, and as such this may increase the Click Through Rate, or CTR. In fact, you could even use emoji's in the URL of your webpages, as you can see from the example below:

emoji search

We have added the hearts to the end of this url, so if you type in Google search "site:thispageurl" obviously replacing the text with the URL of this page, you will be able to see if it worked.

Gender Equality

Kiki Schirr, Author of Tech Doodles, praised GoDaddy for being "one of the biggest success stories in gender equality", especially with their equal pay pledge. This is not surprising for us, with GoDaddy being placed in Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For" list last year. Schirr asked what advice Irving can give to companies looking to make real change on this front and convey that change to the public.

Irving replied:

@kikischirr my advice for making real change on the ‘equal pay’ front is to commit to it and stick with it. It’s not a quick fix, and you have to be willing to be transparent with your own salary data – that means taking the time to analyze what you pay men and women in like-roles and sharing it externally, even when the stats aren’t where you want them to be. Once you have a baseline, keep measuring, keep sharing and keep doing the work – this might mean paying it backward, which means not basing a woman’s salary on what she made in her previous position, but paying her what the position pays.

As for conveying the change to the public – I wouldn’t recommend you get too focused on public perception. Do it because it’s not only the right thing to do, but because it’s good for business. (we know diverse teams build better products, which benefits our customers, and is better for the bottom line) Obviously, the more people know about the work, the more companies are likely to join the cause. We took a leading role in the Employers for Pay Equity consortium last summer because we wanted to share some of what we’ve been doing over the past two years for gender pay equality and, hopefully, help move the initiative forward, faster. The Equal Pay Pledge is a good way to get started, www.EmployersForPayEquity.com. Every time a new company signs on, it’s an opportunity to convey the message about equal pay.

Domain and website tech trends for 2017

User Bruce Kraft Jr, asked what Irving see's as the future of domain and website tech trends for 2017?

The response was quite interesting, focusing on three main areas:

  • Increase in mobile-based website traffic
  • Increase popularity of gTLD's (i.e. the new domain extensions), as well as smarter searching and aftermarket services making it easier to purchase domains already owned by others.
  • Increase in the availability in the domain aftermarket by making appraisals easier. GoDaddy has a great valuation capability that allows users to see what their domains are worth.

Here is what Irving had to say:

@brucekraftjr for websites, mobile is continuing to grow and take more market share for site traffic. Right now, we’re seeing about 60 percent of customers' site traffic to come from mobile. That means we’ll see a simplification of websites. They’re going to make common actions (call, show up, make a reservation) easy and direct. You can expect to see dense, highly packed sites that were fine on desktop to fade away. We’ll also see more seamless integration of social media. It will be interesting to watch is how websites response to platforms like WeChat.

For domains, the two big trends are deepening relevance of what’s right of the “dot” with the popularity of gTLDs continuing to grow. I’m betting there will be some consolidation of the markets this year as gTLD prices settle out. I think the second trend is continued smarter search that combines new domains with aftermarket domains so people can find the right name for their project regardless of who currently owns it.

One other thing that I think we're in a unique position to do is to increase liquidity in the aftermarket dramatically. We've developed a killer valuation capability and we will be able to value all of the nearly 64 million domain names and tell people what their portfolio is worth, and then enable them to enter their domain into the market in a single click. That is market making in a huge way.

New Technologies coming to GoDaddy in 2017

User Abhishek Mishra, founder of BetterMonk, asked what new technologies GoDaddy is planning to implement in the near future, how it will change the user experience, and what their take on handling market competition is.

Irving, confirmed that they are planning "a ton" of updates in 2017, aimed at helping people "turn their ideas into a reality". Their first update, recently launched (and something we will cover in an article shortly) includes GoCentral. Here is what Irving had to say:

@abhi_shek1994 we’re working to roll out a ton of updates in 2017 around our value prop to help people turn their ideas into a reality. GoCentral was the first, bringing email marketing and online sales together with site building in a deeply integrated way. This year we’ll likely roll out a connected mobile second line phone app, go deeper into small biz productivity, online security and a bunch of features/apps that we know our small, independent customers need to succeed, with a huge focus on mobile platforms.

Within GoCentral, we’ve also begun to roll out a new framework for delivering human and data driven insights to our customers—based on anonymized data we collect and from scraping other sources. I’m pretty stoked about how this can positively impact our customer (helping them make decisions) and as we roll out new apps and updates you’ll start to see that framework manifest in all of them. It’s something only GoDaddy can do competently and I’m betting that it will make us stand even further apart from our competition.

Another user, Cameron Rohani, asked a similar question, "Where do you see the company in a few years from now?"

Irving again referenced GoCentral, and their intent to help their customers get online by making it easier not only to get online, but also be successful when they do get online.

@cameronrohani life online isn’t just about websites anymore. Our job is to make it easier for anyone to get online and ultimately be successful as they define it. We need to help bring them customers, not just publish sites. For example, we designed GoCentral to tightly integrate with email marketing, SEO for search engines and we worked with Facebook to make a single-click Facebook page. We’re going to continue to see where Internet users go and we’re going to make sure our customers can be there with just a little effort.

When asked how the new GoCentral website builder \ services differ from Squarespace or Wix, Irving said:;

@anorwood7 GoCentral lets people build a site in under an hour (seriously— I’ve done it in under 10 minutes). I also think it’s way easier to use than drag-and-drop focused competitors— we’ve adopted a very different model. we are 1) fully built mobile-first so that people can do the full build or updates on any of their devices, 2) we have integrated web, store, and marketing services that guides people beyond publishing their site…it’s not enough to just post a cool site, you gotta drive traffic and 3) support over 1500 industries and use cases with rich imagery from Getty and content provided. 

Cloud Computing

User Hyre Car asked about GoDaddy's plans for cloud computing, especially in light of how companies like Amazon Web Services, Azure and Google are catching up.

Irving basically responded by stating that they are not looking to compete with them as their business model is completely different, with a focus on small business rather than large enterprises:

@andy2016 we’re just in a different business. Those companies do a killer job helping large enterprises with their cloud strategies. Our cloud hosting strategy is tuned for independent developers and the small businesses they serve – which means our cloud hosting products offer great provisioning performance, but also offering price flexibility, scalability as our customers grow. The vast, vast majority of our customers don’t have an IT guy, let along an IT department. Or business is to make powerful yet simple and elegant products for those guys—not big corporations. Our job is to make our cloud solutions so simple and purpose built for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and the developers that serve them that they wouldn't go anywhere else. Managed WP multisite update capability is a good example. If we do that better than anyone else (instead of a generic platform) we'll grow really well and stay ahead.

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