Go Daddy CEO Bob Parsons draws fire for African elephant kill

Apparently, Bob Parsons, the very outspoken CEO of the largest Internet domain registrar Go Daddy, shot and killed an elephant in Labola, Zimbabwe and then posted a graphic video of the hunt online.

The elephant kill footage, dated March 8, first caught the attention of people after being posted on his Twitter account March 14, CNN reported. The video gained further attention after making its way onto online petition site Change.org. Parsons and his company are now facing fall out, despite the fact that he claims the “problem elephant” was ruining crops and threatening the livelihoods of impoverished villagers, according to an interview with AOL Small Business (of which he is a board member).

Not surprisingly, animal rights groups are outraged. PETA said that it closed its account with Go Daddy, which reportedly includes a few hundred domain name registrations. It is encouraging others to boycott the company and even branded Parsons “Scummiest CEO of the Year.”

Meanwhile, domain registrar rivals, such as DomainIt.com and NameCheap.com, pounced on this controversy like lion on prey, offering special discounts for domain name transfers and donating a portion of each transfer to wildlife charities, including World Wildlife Fund and Save The Elephants. From a business angle, it’s a smart move to use the animal cause as a marketing tactic to sway clients away from one of the biggest Internet domain competitors around.

But Mashable reports that this story is far from black and white. Parsons was quoted as saying that he’s been going to Africa for six years and has become increasingly aware of the problem that elephants pose for the locals and their crops.

To PETA and other critics, he says: “These people look at this from the context of being Americans. We’re well-fed and isolated from the process of growing and butchering meat. We see this, and we’re horrified. Their hearts are in the right place, but they just don’t understand what’s going on over there.”

While that may be true, critics are also asking why the video is set to AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” and at one point zooms in on the company’s Go Daddy logo. Even if his intentions were humanitarian, at the very least isn’t this an example of really poor taste? And moreover isn’t it bad for business?

Go Daddy spokeswoman Elizabeth Driscoll told CNN there has been no significant change in business, but I’m not so sure I believe her.

Tracy Uba

Tracy Uba is a cat lady in her spare time but not of the crazy variety. Professionally she is a former newspaper writer and wire service editor. Having joined Hoover's in 2007, she enjoys writing about topics ranging from food to race relations.

Read more articles by Tracy Uba.


  1. Oh boy…I wonder how big that ‘fire’ will become..tactic? I really don’t know what that means..

  2. Pardon the pun but on the one hand all this backlash seems like overkill, but on the other hand, I checked out your links to DomainIt.com and NameCheap.com, and at least for DomainIt, you get a 50% discount and they’re giving $10 a shot to charity too. So, I suppose there is some good coming out of all this!

  3. Shame On YOU says:

    Really… you are embarrassing yourself.

    According to MSNBC News http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42383755 and Yahoo news : http://news.yahoo.com/s/mashable/20110401/tc_mashable/the_real_story_behind_bob_parsons_elephantkilling_safari_pics

    It states that the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has green-lit during times of economic hardship and hunger. It said that Bob Parsons only killed the leader of the group because it was leading them to tramp crops and attack the human population. Read this one part :::

    Quote:”When the herd realized there were humans in the field about 15 yards away from them, Parsons said they turned to attack the group. At that point, the party turned on the lights they had available. “We picked out the largest bull,” Parsons says, “shot and killed it. The rest of the herd left and never came back.” The farmer was able to harvest what remained of his crop.”

    This was videotapped to document to file the event and stuff. Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management asked for the videotape and stuff so they can be sure it was done – following the standard and codes. Bob Parson was chosen to hunt and stuff because he was experienced from the past and he is not an elephant hunter for the heck of it. Only —ONE— elephant was killed .

    I am not …going to listen to Peta because Peta really takes everything out of context and cause drama all the time. peta themselves are shady in their own words. I am not going to boycott Godaddy because of this. I am a user of Godaddy for years and I will continue to do so.

    If Peta wants to attack Bob Parsons then peta should attack the rest of us for many things. like killing cows, fishes, chickens, etc

    I’ve been watching Peta for years attacking the Hollywood and many other places.

    REALLY!!! You… *shakes head* Do not go after people until you know the REAL story. Watch out.

  4. Chris Huston Chris Huston says:

    Not that you need me defending you, but it sounds to me like you, as succinctly as you could, covered both sides of the issue, even allowing for the likelihood of Mr. Parsons’ humanitarian intentions.

    To me, it felt like the question you were ultimately asking wasn’t so much his intentions with the kill (which I tend to think were good, even if possibly misguided or misapplied), but how the video was presented. I’ve never liked Go Daddy simply because of their exploitive ads (and, no, I’m not saying they’re the only ones to do that) — that’s my taste and opinion and I’m entitled to it — so the video you described didn’t surprise me.

    On the other hand, I do want to note that your wording (“critics are also asking why the video is set to AC/DC’s ‘Hell’s Bells'”) makes it sound like the *whole video* is set to the song. I only saw versions where (as bad as this is, isn’t as bad as the whole video being set to it) the song is only over the ending with the crowd of villagers. That said, the dramatic “danger” strings over the hunt portion also seems (again, to me) in bad taste.

    It appears, too, that the video has since been edited, removing the song and the zoom-in on one of the many Go Daddy baseball caps the villagers were wearing.

    Nice post, Tracy. You ask some fair questions.

  5. Tracy Uba says:

    Of course, there are many different angles to this story and a lot of shades of gray. I’m not attacking Bob Parsons, nor am I endorsing PETA. I do, however, question the manner in which the video was presented (before it was edited) and as such how that can affect – negatively or positively – the image of a business. Who knows whether this will hurt Go Daddy in the long run, maybe it won’t; but in the short-term other companies are trying to capitalize on consumer reaction to news of Parsons’ controversial participation in Zimbabwe’s local animal/human relations.

  6. I will never understand how poelpe can do that it’s absolutely barbaric. I’m not really surprised there was uproar. What NameCheap did was, admittedly, a good thing. But the fact they did it clearly for the wrong reason leaves quite a deficit in the sentiment. Then again there really aren’t limits to what companies will do to progress in the marketing world as they say, it’s a dog-eat-dog world. Or an man-shoot-elephant world, as the case may be..Loving your layout

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