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GoDaddy

GoDaddy is a privately owned, Internet-based company that provides a variety of services including domain name registration, web hosting and e-business software sales. The company, which is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, was founded by Bob Parsons. Parsons previously owned a financial services software company, which he sold in the mid-1990s upon retirement. He came out of retirement in 1997 to form Jomax Technologies, the predecessor to GoDaddy.

Since it’s inception, GoDaddy has risen to become the largest domain registrar in the world, with tens of million of domains registered to its clients. The company ranks as the world’s largest ICANN-accredited registrar; it’s approximately four times larger than its nearest competition. Recent corporate acquisitions include Outright, Locu, Afternic, and Media Temple.

GoDaddy has redefined Internet hosting services, and it has been the recipient of numerous industry awards and accolades. Among these awards are the 2001 Arizona BBB award for Business Ethics and the 2011 SC Magazine award for Best Security Team. In 2011, it ranked number four in the Phoenix Business Magazine list of “Best Places to Work in the Valley” and it made the 2012 Forbes list of “Best 100 Companies to Work For.”

Known for its sometimes controversial commercials and interesting spokespersons, GoDaddy also sponsors a number of charitable causes in support of domestic violence and child abuse awareness, and sports events, including NASCAR and the Super Bowl. In 2013, the company shifted its advertising strategy to focus more on small to medium sized business owners (SMB). Reflecting this change, its commercials and advertising materials shifted from “sexy” to smart.

Update: WikiLeaks.org Not Online, Neither is WikiLeaks.com

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First it appeared that Godaddy (or Wikia, Inc.) was monetizing WikiLeaks.com traffic that was intended for WikiLeaks.org website by placing sponsored links on the standard coming soon landing page.

Next, it appeared that Godaddy had taken down all of the sponsored links on the WikiLeaks.com landing page, perhaps in response to complaints about it monetizing the traffic. Some people still felt this wasn’t the right thing to do and thought that Godaddy should not have WikiLeaks.com resolve at all.

Now, the day after the DNS was removed from WikiLeaks.org, effectively taking it offline (until it moved offshore to WikiLeaks.ch), it appears that WikiLeaks.com has nothing on its website. The current WikiLeaks.com website says “Sorry this site is not currently available.”

WikiLeaks.com Update: GoDaddy Does The Right Thing

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I wrote an article last Sunday  about the WikiLeaks.com domain name. It’s owned by a company called Wikia, Inc. and it recently had a coming soon landing page with pay per click advertising links. Every time someone clicked on one of the Sponsored Links, Godaddy would earn some revenue (and possibly Wikia, too, if they were parking the domain name with Godaddy).

Apparently someone at Wikia, Inc. or Godaddy decided to change this landing page, and there are no more PPC links showing.

Bob Parsons is known to be a proud patriotic American. He is also a very, very wealthy man, and as the owner of one of the largest and most generous companies in the state of Arizona (maybe even the US), I don’t think the money that was being generated was substantial to Godaddy’s bottom line.

Kudos to Parsons, Godaddy, and/or Wikia for opting to not monetize traffic that was looking for the WikiLeaks.org website, which has certainly damaged the reputation of the US and others in the world.

Who Makes Money from WikiLeaks?

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WikiLeaks.org is a website that publishes leaked (usually confidential) documents and memos from governments and companies. These documents are often embarrassing  to those behind the documents, and the website receives a lot of interest shortly before and after it releases documents. It’s been in the news quite a bit lately, and is almost always referred to as “WikiLeaks” without the domain extension.

I don’t know much about the organization behind WikiLeaks.org, so I can’t say how (or if) they generate revenue, but it looks like at least one company makes some money as a result of WikiLeaks, and the company is based in the United States.

A company called Wikia,  Inc. from San Francisco owns the “typo” WikiLeaks.com, and the domain name is not developed. However, there are pay per click (PPC) links on the landing page, which appears to be monetized by its registrar, US-based Godaddy. You can see the “Sponsored Links” on the left hand side of the page.

At its peak, Compete.com reported that WikiLeaks.com received over 230,000 visits in July of 2010. It also appears to be close to the 100,000 visit mark last month, and will almost certainly increase as WikiLeaks.org release new confidential documents.

Of course, this traffic pales in comparison to the actual WikiLeaks.org website, but the traffic is still substantial. I wonder how much Godaddy is earning from this typo traffic.

Long Domain Transfer Process

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I almost feel like I participated in a miraculous situation last week when I was transferring a domain name. I bought a domain name that was registered at Godaddy, and it was pushed to my account  instantly. I then flipped the domain name the next day to another domain investor. The reps at Godaddy helped to unlock the name within a couple of hours (they lock it for security measures), and it was ready to transfer.

I sent the domain name’s authorization code to the buyer, and within 10 minutes of his requesting a transfer to his registrar, I received an email asking me to confirm. I confirmed that this was legit, and under an hour later I received an email from Godaddy asking me if the transfer was legitimate, which I immediately accepted within my Domain Manger at Godaddy account.

Under 30 minutes later, I  received  an email from Godaddy confirming that the domain name was successfully transferred.

I don’t understand why it takes so long (up to 5 days) from other domain registrars. Are their systems antiquated and they can’t quickly process transactions as fast as Godaddy? Or is it a stall tactic in the hopes that the transferrer changes his mind?

Whatever the case, I appreciate the quick transfer speed of Godaddy.

Could Intuit Buy GoDaddy?

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I read an article about possible GoDaddy buyers on Fool.com written by Anders Bylund, “Who’s Hot for GoDaddy?” In the article, Bylund mentions Google, Amazon, Cisco, HP, Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM as potential suitors for the domain registrar who, according to the Wall Street Journal, may be coming up for an auction with a starting bid of $1 Billion.

One company that I thought might make an interesting buyer of GoDaddy, purely based on synergy, is Intuit. Intuit is a publicly traded company with a market cap of nearly $14 Billion. The company offers small business financial management tools and services, such as Quick Books. Intuit primarily targets small and medium-sized businesses, which seems to be the same audience as Godaddy’s domain registrants.

In 2007, Intuit shelled out $170 Million for web development company, Homestead. The company offers web building services primarily for small or medium sized businesses. In a way, this actually competes with GoDaddy’s Website Tonight offering.

I don’t think I own stock in Intuit, and I am not a finance guy, so I have no idea if they could even make this work. It’s just one company I would think could possibly be a suitor for the largest domain registrar.

MichaelJacksonCasino.com Center of $100 Million Godaddy Lawsuit

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MichaelJacksonCasino.comLate last week, TMZ reported that the estate of Michael Jackson was not happy over an online casino being run on MichaelJacksonCasino.com. Apparently someone thinks it’s a good idea to run a casino, sportsbook, and poker room using Michael Jackson’s likeness allegedly without the permission of Michael Jackson’s Estate (this is according to the Estate).

The domain name MichaelJacksonCasino.com has been registered at Godaddy since May of 2005 (on its current registration), and the listed registrant seems to be a company called Corp. Hostarica, with a Miami post office box. Hostarica appears to be an offshore hosting company from Costa Rica, according to its website.

Early this morning, TMZ followed up their original article with another report that Godaddy is being sued for $100,000,000 by the man who claims to own copyrights to some of the photographs that are used on the MichaelJacksonCasino.com website. According to the article, a federal lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles on Monday August 2, and Mann hopes the lawsuit will cause Godaddy to reveal the name of the actual owner of the domain name.

According to results from the Wayback Machine on Archive.org, it looks like there has been a casino on MichaelJacksonCasino.com since 2006. Michael Jackson was still alive at that point, and the welcome message on the site said,

The King of Pop is proud to bring you the most exciting Vegas style online gaming experience on the Net! Along with implementing the most advanced casino software in the industry, Michael Jackson Casino gives you 24-hr. customer support and guarantees you the highest level of security to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of your account. All you have to worry about is winning!”

Additionally, the Wayback Machine shows that the domain name was initially registered as far back as 2002, although the current registration began in 2005. It’s likely that the domain owner dropped this domain name and it expired sometime between 2003 and 2005. Interestingly, in 2003 (which is before the current domain registration), there was a page that said, “Visit our Internet Casinos” with a long list of other casino websites with generic domain names listed.

I don’t know how much exposure Godaddy would have in a case like this, where they acted as the registrar. To me, it looks like Godaddy is not actually hosting the website, as the DNS show nx0.dnscrservices.info and nx1.dnscrservices.info, which are Hostarica’s servers, and they are probably located outside of the US due to US gaming laws.

Thanks to Josh Pelissero for the tip.

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