Profile of a Successful Company: GoDaddy

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On November 29, 2011

Not every successful leader is successful all the time. And not every successful company is successful from start to finish. Some companies —and their leaders—have to fight back from the brink of failure to finally make it. Bob Parsons and GoDaddy, the company he founded, are prime examples.

Financial advisors are quick to remind investors that “past performance does not guarantee future results.” Few people know that better than Bob Parsons. At one point, Bob sold a company for the hefty sum of $60,000,000—an amount that you might think would make him bulletproof.

Bob wasn’t the kind of guy to sit on his hands, however. He spent much of his acquired wealth building a new company called GoDaddy. And he watched his fortune fall to $25,000,000 and then to $15,000,000. When he was down to his last $6,000,000, he took a retreat and considered whether or not he should fold up his tent and call it a career.

Bob decided to get out while he still had some money and took a trip to Hawaii.  He went so far as to calculate how he would divide what was left: pay off his creditors, give his employees bonuses, and save a little for himself.

After checking out of his hotel, he noticed one of the valets who was about the same age as he was. The valet was smiling and joking, and seemed to love his job. That completely changed Bob’s perspective—and, ultimately, his life. Bob thought, ’If GoDaddy fails, I’ll just park cars for a living. It doesn’t seem so bad!’

The result was that Bob Parsons threw out his “retirement” plans and calculations and decided to go for it. The worst thing that could happen was failure.

The rest, as they say, is history. Yes, there were some significant changes made. Yes, there was a lot of hard work involved. But Bob Parsons had looked failure in the eye—and was willing to risk it.  Today, GoDaddy owns approximately 60 percent of the market in the United States— and is worth at least 100 times the $6,000,000 that Parsons had seen his fortune dwindle to.

What’s the lesson for us? In this case, it’s not just about execution or people or management. It’s about considering the worst-case scenario and deciding whether or not you can live with the results of failure.

Will we all get the same results that Bob Parsons did? No. But Parsons wouldn’t have gotten them, either, if he had let his fear of failure keep him from trying.

What would failure really look like for you? Take a few minutes and write it down on paper. Would it be as bad as you think? Or is it worth the risk of doing something great?

P.S. Looking for more resources to help you build a great business, make sure you check out the 2011 Business Excellence Forum.  It’s the year’s premier event for small business owners and entrepreneurs – offering a unique opportunity to discover cutting-edge business strategies from some of the top entrepreneurs, speakers and coaches in the world.