Official Statement from Go Daddy Regarding Front Running Allegation

Some serious charges have been lodged against Go Daddy regarding alleged domain name frontrunning, and because the person who wrote the article didn’t mention the domain name in question, it’s impossible to see what really happened. Mike Berkens also posted an article following up on a Bill Hartzer article.

I reached out to GoDaddy to see if the company could respond to the allegation, and I received a statement from Rich Merdinger, Vice President of Product Development – Domains at the company:

“Go Daddy does not and never has participated in domain name “front-running” – the act of registering domain names after a registration search is done.”

There are a few things that could have caused the person who made the allegation to think something was amiss at GoDaddy. Perhaps he entered the wrong domain name (ie a typo) which was available, and upon trying to register the actual name, it was unavailable. Another reason could have been that someone else registered the same domain name after he showed it was available. There are other possibilities as well.

One thing is pretty clear though. An allegation without mentioning the domain name is not fair to Go Daddy, and it’s probably damaging as well. In 2008, Network Solutions was heavily criticized  when front running was revealed, and the company ceased the practice shortly thereafter. A class action lawsuit was reportedly filed in response.

I hope the person who made the accusation provides more information so that we can all see for ourselves what happened.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. As part of my due diligence for that article, I reached out to the original poster, Zen, and did not receive any sort of response from him.

    So, at this point I’m treating it just as an allegation, with no proof whatsoever.

    • Definition of DUE DILIGENCE

      1 – the care that a reasonable person exercises to avoid harm to other persons or their property***
      2 – research and analysis of a company or organization done in preparation for a business transaction (as a corporate merger or purchase of securities)

      [***more applicable in this instance]


      An “attempt” at due diligence was made when you requested more information from Zen (the individual who made the accusation).

      Yet, despite no response from Zen, and admitting in the article itself that you had “not independently verified this claim”, you still proceeded to re-published the allegation?!

      Your assertion of prior due diligence seems a stretch.

  2. Unless the domain is posted – this allegation is totally useless. Even after the domain is posted I suspect it would be found to be owned by a GoDaddy customer. Or like you said, it has been registered for a long time. Chances that GoDaddy is frontrunning is extremely low given they know what that would do to hurt their business.

  3. notice how twitter search has become loaded with negative quips re godaddy while including a convenient alternative registrar?

    me thinks there’s social media warfare at work.

    over 300 urls at godaddy and very little to complain about with their service for the last 8 years. but if you see a current $1 domain name coupon code, i’d be interested 🙂

  4. I’ve been a GoDaddy customer for a long time and have never had any issues that would lead me to believe that they don’t operate with the utmost integrity.

  5. I have noticed that they are sending emails out a few days after I check to see if a name is available on their site saying it is still available. They never used to do that.
    But, I don’t check their WhoIs very often to know if they always have done that.

    • I have noticed this as well. If you leave a domain in your cart, GD will reach out to you in effort to get that name registered. I have never noticed this in the past but it seems smart from a business point as they want the consumer to register as many names as possilble.

        • I recently had been hand registering many domain names at GoDaddy—I was, in fact, getting a sense about this while I was registering them on their site, call it women’s intuition, I don’t know…I registered “” and the next day I get a name recommendation email offer from GoDaddy if I’d like to purchase “” because they thought I’d be interested since it was a similar name but just with the hypens added. I knew it was a computer generated name from the one I had just the day before made up.

          I didn’t respond and it only happened one time in all the other names I registered….

          I do think something IS going on, though….

          One good thing….they were selling it for $280.00 and mine was worth more I decided because it didn’t have the hyphens….

        • Either way, I just received a domain off of back order yesterday so either the domain name completely sucks or they weren’t front running. I’m going to leave this subject alone as allegations against anyone are just allegations. Great post though, thank you for that.

  6. Actually I think its the opposite. The higher the volume of names the harder it is to catch and the less of an outcry. If i only check 100 names per month it would be easy to remember or recheck the names but if a person is constantly checking names the ones in question are just forgotten about and you move on.

    I had a group of names that I was checking one day and some came back taken. A few minutes later checked again and 1 of them was available that was not available before so I clicked to register and then it showed up for sale in Godaddy auctions for 5k, i then got pissed because I really wanted the name now and took a screen shot of the auction page showing the 5k price. I got on the phone to call my rep and while I was waiting continued to go back and forth trying to register the name and low and behold after checking the name about 50 times it was available and I got it for regular registration fees. So WTF? Seriously, what happened? I never said anything to the rep about it or GD because I didn’t want the name removed from my account because of some glitch in their system but the name is still with me and the registration was in october 2011. Do not ask me for the name or screenshot because trust me when I say this is a true story but I am not getting in the middle of some huge scandal. Believe it if you want to.

    This process I believe happens a lot more often than we believe. Not only in domain names but many businesses have shady practices so I think its a bit naive to think this could not exist.


  7. shoulda, coulda, woulda…there’s been allegations like this for years coming from random, paranoid noobies/marketers. Someone sees something in the media and checks to see if the name is avail, only to not register and let someone else pick it up. Godaddy remains my registrar of choice 😀

  8. It is a big world, we all have ideas and what now, I have registered THOUSANDS of domains on Godaddy, and never come across this, this person needs to be sued into the stone age, time to sick godaddy legal on them.

  9. I ca say with my own experience that godaddy has never to my knowledge pulled anything like the allegation of front-running. I have regged over 400 domains with godaddy in the past couple of years and have not worried about it.

  10. I know that there is an occasional glitch in the Godaddy system. The name Investing, Investments, and Media all .info’s. Showed available. I went through the entire checkout process. It wasn’t until 3 or 4 days later that I recieved the “Could not register” emails. My account was refunded.

    When I saw they were available I didnt hesitate and checked the whois after because I could not believe it. They were all indeed registered but the system was showing the as available.

    Just for shits and grins I type those in just to see what it tells me. I have had those same 3 terms show available at least 4 times.

    This is what I think of when reading this guys story. If you dont know how to check all the facts you can easily be misled.

  11. Does anyone know if domains listed as “premium” domains that have been under godaddy privacy since they were registered are sometimes owned by godaddy itself?

  12. It may not be fair to not to reveal the domain in question.

    I won’t put it past human beings, or creepy employees to snoop at a name in a cart, say it’s, or anything like that, and covet it. Those saying that theirs has been in the cart for a while, and remained untouched, sure if it’s, or something like that, it can remain there for ever. 🙂

  13. Hi,

    I would like to weigh in here on the front-running debate going on since a couple of days. Its a personal experience I would like to share that happened with me .

    I had written an php algorithm 1-2 months back to make a list of all possible LLL words. I wanted to check availability of LLL’s for .com, .net, .org, .in TLD’s through Godaddy’s bulk search. Although all the LLL’s for .com, .org and .net were taken. There were, I guess, some 15-16 available. I made a list of those in the afternoon and had planned to buy them in the evening.

    To my weird surprise! all were gone except for one. I checked the date of registration of these domains so as to confirm if I had done anything wrong in checking availability of these names. But I wasn’t wrong, all those’s were registered an hour later after I had bulk-searched in godaddy. They were registered under name of some guy in U.K.(don’t remember the name!)

    I don’t say that a company like godaddy would indulge in such a thing. But I do really suspect that there might be rotten apples in godaddy who might be hand in gloves with some domainers, and are doing this stuff for some monetary returns.

  14. I searched an obsure domain name at GoDaddy last march and when I went to register it last week it was registered. Owner: Godaddy

    I believe they are frontrunning.

  15. I’ve never had any issues like this with Go Daddy.

    I’ve got hundreds of domains with them and have run more domain searches than I could put a number to.

    If you find a killer available domain, chances are others will soon find it too. If you hesitate to register the name – it’s not unlikely that others may jump on it, and given that Go Daddy is the world’s largest registrar, it’s also not unlikely that someone else would register the name through them.

    My feeling is that this is just unsubstantiated rants from someone that hesitated to pull the trigger and lost out on a name. I’m very surprised this was originally reported without proper evidence to support the claims.

    Go Daddy’s core business is domain registration and hosting services – not investing/speculating in domain names and competing directly with their customers.

  16. I hand registered a 3 word .com at GD as part of a bulk order and woke up the next morning to find it had been removed from my account a few hours after purchase and hidden by privacy.

    I was told it was removed because it was a photo finish registration and GD refunded my money.

    Apparently someone else had registered it milliseconds before me and GD gave it to both of us.

    I registered the name around 2:30 in the morning along with over 50+ names carrying the same 2 root keywords.

    The name in question was probably the strongest of the bunch and also my favorite out of the group of names I bought that eve. It was the first one I looked up in GD’s system a few hours before. When I saw it, it made me think “I cant believe its available, I wonder what others variations are un-registered?” So instead of buying it right away (which was now a mistake) I then spent two hours searching their system for others names available with the same two keywords. And since I was finding so many I decided not to purchase them separately.

    I took the whole experience of loosing the domain as a sign I was buying in a good new market. Seeing how someone else was thinking the same thing I was thinking and thinking it at the exact same time I was, all while logged into the same register I was logged into and making the same decision I was making to purchase all At The Exact Same Time. Talk about a lightning strike.

    That night I got a lot of variations of the name with high future potential. Plus I got the plural version of the removed name in the same bulk order. And GD had an explanation for the name removal from my account, so what could I do? But forget about it.

    People actually do get struck by lightning no matter how low the odds but the experience gave me a funny feeling. So I now buy available names I find right away before I put the same keywords + variations in GD search box over and over again just to be safe. I shoot first and delete later. With coupon codes a low as GD’s its better to take the chance.

    Moral of the story = If you want the name, Pull the trigger. All this talk of waiting 3 days to buy and seeing it taken and blaming the register is crazy. In my experience, It only takes a millisecond to miss out.

  17. After reading this I went back through some screenshots that I keep of names I have checked through GD. All of the names listed below were all available at the time of saving the lists. These lists are all from within the past few months. Today I rechecked some of those names and the ones listed below are now not available. Going through the list there are many different people registering the names through a few different registrars with the majority through GD. Some of the names listed with different registrars than GD may have been sold and that is now why GD is not listed as the registrar.

    Yes this could be total coincidence but could it be possible that maybe GD directly is not involved but possibly employees saving lists and reselling the checked names lists to other domainers. Lets be realistic is that so hard to conceive. Anything is possible and I did hear of a pretty famous domainer accused of something similar to this.

    I am in no way pointing fingers but really think about it. The list is below. I know there are many more because I only checked about 25% of the lists I have saved.


    • Todd:
      I think you should take off the tinfoil hat and stop looking for conspiracies.

      Go Daddy has by far the largest proportion of domains registered of any registrar – it’s the largest in the world by quite a margin. It’s not surprising then, that given a large list of registered .coms, many would indeed be through Go Daddy.

      Beyond that, and no offence intended, but I wouldn’t register any of the domains on that list. If Go Daddy was investing in domains in this fashion – and they have publically stated at least twice now that they’re NOT – I highly doubt they would be wasting their time with names like those on your list.

    • todd, those domains should be available, and why shouldn’t they be registered at godaddy? it happens to be the biggest registrar. 😀

  18. Luke:

    I am not accusing anyone of anything and all I am showing is some domains, that I agree are names that would not be chosen by very many people but for some reason they were registered. Obviously I didn’t like them and that is why I didn’t register them.

    These names were not checked as domain projected sales but as some concepts that me and some friends were looking into but obviously the names sucked and we didn’t buy them even though a few on this list I know I could have flipped for at least 500 bucks.

    I also agree 100% that GD “corporate” would not waste their time with names like this.


  19. This has happened to me on more than one occasion. I’m not sure it’s Godaddy but I think it might be someone that works there.

    One example is

  20. Go Daddy does not and never has participated in domain name “front-running” – the act of registering domain names after a registration search is done.”

    This definition does not preclude analytics-driven registration of domain names in general.


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