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.
An interesting thing is happening at Twitter, which I have been following via the Domaining.com feed. Apparently two domain names were stolen from the GoDaddy account of Twitter commentator cvander (Maestrosdelweb.com and forosdelweb.com). Since many of this person’s posts are in Spanish, I cannot understand everything that has been going on, but it would seem that the domain owner posted updates about how his names were stolen and how he lost control of his Gmail account.
In response to the news, friends of cvander have been sending messages to Godaddy’s representative on Twitter, GoDaddyGuy. These messages, which can be seen by all, are verifying that these people know cvander and that his names have, in fact, been stolen. Godaddy would seem to be working on the issue, as the latest message is “To all those concerned about @cvander, please know we’re aware of the issue and working to find a resolution.”
It’s neat to see how Twitter is being used by domain owners in a variety of ways, and kudos to Godaddy for having a customer facing representative working on Twitter.
Mike Berkens wrote an important post today about keeping your Whois information current and updated. ICANN regulations require that Whois information is accurate, and if the information isn’t accurate, there is a chance that your domain name could possibly be taken. There are also many legal reasons to do so, which Mike outlines in his post. It just makes sense to keep your information updated, and if you are worried about spam emails or privacy, just buy the privacy guard.
In this vein, I think it’s also important to note that some UDRP panels have ruled that a change in registration information can be seen as a brand new registration. One recent case (although it didn’t really impact the decision) was on the BME.com case, which the respondent lost. The respondent had changed his Whois information (between his own entities), and they still cited this changing Whois information.
In addition to this issue, Godaddy also seems to still lock domain names for 60 days when the Whois information is updated. While this can usually be remedied somewhat quickly if you contact them, it is a nuisance.
Yes, maintaining your valid Whois information is most definitely important – especially if a signficant event has impacted it (ended partnership, bankruptcy, company formation, divorce…etc). However, keep in mind that changing your Whois information could put your domain name at risk depending on who is monitoring your Whois listing.
I read that Godaddy had done away with their 60 day transfer lock policy on domain names where the Whois information changes. I know ICANN prohibits transfers away when a domain name is newly registered, and I heard that there were major rumblings when Godaddy had their own lock, but I thought that situation was remedied.
Today, I tried to transfer WeddingEntertainment.com to my account at Moniker, and I received this message from Godaddy:
“Dear EJ Silver, The transfer of WEDDINGENTERTAINMENT.COM from GoDaddy.com, Inc. to another registrar could not be completed for the following reason(s): Express written objection to the transfer from the Transfer Contact. (e.g. – email, fax, paper document or other processes by which the Transfer Contact has expressly and voluntarily objected through opt-in means). The express written objection may be the result of a pending or recently completed Change of Registered Name Holder. This is an opt-in process during which the new Registered Name Holder agrees not to transfer for 60-days. This domain will be transferrable on 7/26/2008. If you believe that this domain name does not fit the situation described above, go to http://www.godaddy.com/gdshop/support.asp?prog_id=GoDaddy&isc=gdbb35 for assistance. Regards,
GoDaddy.com, Inc. “
Luckily for me, I have a couple of great people at Godaddy who I am sure will make this problem go away in no time. However, if I didn’t have an executive account with them, I would probably be stuck making phone calls, trying to get this resolved, which would have ended up in the office of their President. Also, if I was selling the domain name, it would add unnecessary hassle.
A change in Whois shouldn’t require a 60 day lock. I thought this was resolved, but apparently it wasn’t.
Godaddy is asking its customers to provide feedback on how the company can improve its Signature Auctions, after the first round saw pretty poor results. This request is one of the smartest moves I’ve seen from one of the big domain companies. Most companies would probably have tried to put a positive spin on the results, which may have made them look foolish. Because of their humble appeal, I will give some advice that I believe could improve their next Signature Auction.
1.) Better Names at Reasonable Reserves
Godaddy should do what it takes to ensure there are good quality domain names on auction with low/reasonable reserve prices. They should seek out domain owners and cut deals with them to guarantee certain prices will be achieved (lower commissions, sales price guarantees, bid on behalf of Godaddy’s internal portfolio…etc). The better the quality names at reasonable reserves, the more likely it is for buyers to show up and bid. Conversely, the more wealthy buyers that are present, the more likely it is for domain sellers to list their names at reasonable reserve prices.
Sellers are reluctant to put their names on auction at a lower reserve because if there aren’t enough buyers, they’ve created an artificial price ceiling for their domain names. Hypothetically, a $500,000 name with a reserve price of just $100,000 might not sell if an interested buyer doesn’t show up. If that’s the case, the domain owner has created a price ceiling that isn’t realistic because it probably would have sold for $500,000 in a different venue.
2.) More Publicity
In the days leading up to the auction, there didn’t seem to be any publicity for the auction. It was almost like Godaddy wanted to have a soft opening, but when they chose that route, bidders didn’t show up (or if they did, they didn’t bid). Godaddy needs to publicize their next auction as much as possible. I suggest the following:
Purchase impressions in all the domain forums and domain blogs
Ask Bob to blog about the auction to generate buzz
Issue press releases touting the high profile domain names
Give coupon credits to VIP customers
3.) VIP Invitations
There are quite a few people who are known for bidding aggressively at other live domain auctions. Senior Godaddy executives should go through their rolodexes and do what they need to make sure these bidders show up. Godaddy might even want to ask them what types of names they are looking to purchase, and they should make sure at least some of these types of names are on auction.
4.) Manage the Escrow Process
Instead of handing off the sale to Escrow.com to complete an auction (or any of TDNAM’s sales for that matter), Godaddy should handle the transaction on their own. This is an important part of the process, and it will ensure that payment is made quickly, and the domain name is transferred promptly and correctly. Why should they leave anything to chance? All other major auction houses offer in-house escrow services, and I don’t see why Godaddy still doesn’t.
The better the auction results are, the more likely it will be that people will want their names listed in future auctions. The better the names in auction, the more likely it will be that buyers show up and bid. The second round will be much more successful than the inaugural attempt because Godaddy was smart enough to ask for advice from the domain community.
When I write about a WIPO decision, more often than not, I prefer to discuss generic domain names, and I usually take the side of the registrant/respondent. In the case of the recent WIPO decision for the domain name GodaddysGirls.com, I would like to commend the complainant, Godaddy.
In my opinion, the domain name GodaddysGirls.com is infringing upon Godaddy’s trademark, “Godaddy.” I have no legal background, so this is just my opinion. Also, knowing about Godaddy CEO Bob Parsons, I wouldn’t have been shocked if he created a special website in honor of Godaddy’s Girls. (See video clip below for more on that.)
Aside from the fact that the registrant was using the term “Godaddy” in the domain name, according to the WIPO filing, the registrant would “redirect Internet users to sponsored links to a number of pornographic websites.” Clearly this isn’t something Godaddy would condone, so of course, they wanted to stop it.
In the decision released today, I want to highlight a few noteworthy things Godaddy did prior to the filing. First, Godaddy didn’t immediately file a WIPO dispute or a lawsuit under the Lanham Act once they became aware of the usage of this domain name. Godaddy “contacted Respondent with a cease and desist and transfer demand,” which the respondent rejected. I think this was a reasonable request, and it could have saved all parties time and money if it was accepted.
The rejection could have pissed Godaddy off enough to immediately file a dispute, but instead, they “indicated that it was willing to purchase the domain name from Respondent at a “reasonable price.” I don’t know of many companies who would be willing to pay for a domain name it believes is being used in bad faith after having a cease and desist letter flatly rejected, so I was impressed with this overture.
It was only after these two attempts to amicably resolve this were rejected that Godaddy proceeded with filing a WIPO dispute. In the decision released today, the domain name was ordered to be transferred to Godaddy.
Detractors may say that Godaddy took those actions to save money. While that may have been the case, I believe they first took reasonable steps to get this domain name back, and only used the WIPO dispute process as a last resort.
I am just an outsider looking in on this, but in this day and age of companies filing legal actions first and asking questions after, I believe Godaddy did the honorable thing and should be commended.
It doesn’t look so great for Godaddy’s first Signature Auction. According the the listing, only 2 of the 31 listed names sold. As I said in a post a couple of weeks ago, there really weren’t very many names on the list that were that appealing, and the few that were good, had high reserves.
As I said a few days ago, I didn’t see much hype surrounding the auction, although it did receive a fair amount of press. It looks like Godaddy should huddle up, figure out where things went wrong, and make adjustments for the next time. With the addition of domain industry veteran Adam Dicker, Godaddy is still in a good position.
Godaddy has a strong brand and large following, and once they get the right mix of premium names, fair reserves with their good technology, they could have a competitive product.