GoDaddy’s initial public offering was about more than raising money, although it did that quite well.
The domain-registration company is known for TV commercials, notably shown during Super Bowl broadcasts for maximum exposure, that push the boundaries of good taste. The spots generate as much publicity for themselves as they do for what they purport to sell.
But GoDaddy has recently rounded out its services to help small businesses deal with the issues of running a business with a Web presence, a virtual requirement these days. It is one of a number of companies vying to help the thousands of small businesses that barely have enough time to run their day-to-day operations, let alone manage a website.
Investors bought into GoDaddy’s new strategy on its first day of trading, April 1. It sold 23 million shares priced at $20 a share, raising $460 million. The stock closed at $26 a share on its first day, valuing the company at about $4 billion.
The company has registered around 59 million domain names, about 20% of the world’s total. It generates about $1.4 billion in revenue, but it isn’t profitable. International customers account for a quarter of its revenue.
The services include website hosting, managing web servers, setting up customized email addresses, digital security features, and versions of Microsoft Office software adapted for small businesses. The company’s Get Found service automatically creates listings on Facebook, Open Table, Yelp, and other social media resources.
The IPO hoopla amplified the message of the company’s expanded offerings and maybe helped refocus its image. GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving told Recode.net that the IPO was a branding moment for the company, which has global aspirations.
Selling services is more lucrative than selling domain names, which accounts for more than half of GoDaddy’s revenue, but competition to serve small business is intense. Competitors include Endurance International Group, Wix, and Web.com Group. Amazon.com and Google also provide domain registration.
GoDaddy already seems to be ahead of its peer group of rivals. It’s the only one with more than a billion dollars in revenue; none have turned a profit.
The company certainly has name recognition thanks to its advertising, and the IPO is part of its strategy to soften the edge that comes with that recognition. If that pays off, GoDaddy could become master of domain registration — and more.