Former Marine, Go Daddy CEO Talks About His Rise to Success
He's tripped a booby trap and tripped over business ventures, but always has kept moving into the fight and come out on the other side looking for a new challenge.
Bob Parsons, former lance corporal, rifleman and current owner of the largest internet domain registry in the world, GODADDY.com, has had a life full of challenges and only attributes his success to his few years as a United States Marine.
"There is no doubt in my mind that the lessons I took away from the Corps is what has made me succeed in my life," said Parsons."And I know for a fact that the Marine Corps is the only reason I graduated from high school."
Parsons enlisted in August of 1968 in Baltimore, MD. He ended up with Company D, 1st Battalion, 26th Marine Regiment and before he knew it, he was being medically evacuated from Hill 190 in Quang Nam, Vietnam.
"I can remember arriving on that hill in the middle of nowhere," Parsons commented."The night prior, the squad I was newly assigned to had been ambushed and most of them were killed. It wasn't that moment I got afraid. Later that night I sat on this wall of an old French fort and looked into this valley and thought " this is it -- I'm going to die here and I accepted that and from then on I was OK."
Parsons then did something that he uses to this day.
"From the next day on, my only goal and I mean my only goal, was to simply make it to mail call. I figured that I would take small steps, tie them together, and it would get me to the finish line and that thought is what I use today to make GODADDY successful -- simply get to the next day," said Parsons.
Parsons did get to the next day and with some style as his 2004 Superbowl commercial with the GODADDY girl has become one of the most popular and most controversial ever to be aired.
With her testifying in front of a congressional panel, she suddenly has a mock "wardrobe malfunction." Then the network does something that Parsons will thank them for forever.
"They pulled my second-half commercial and did not air it," said Parsons."This was fantastic. It caused so much talk that our market share shot through the roof."
It was here that GODADDY took off and they became a leader in the industry.
"The Marine Corps taught me and gave me the sense of doing things right and more importantly I got confidence and that part of it is so important," Parsons said."I decided to offer people a great product or service for a reasonable and fair price. Its that simple -make a small amount of money on a whole lot of people, treat them right and it will all fall into place."
With his "never-quit attitude," Parsons returned to school and used some of that good ole Marine Corps determination to graduate magna cum laude from the University of Baltimore in 1975 majoring in accounting.
Stumbling into a bookstore on the Stanford campus in San Francisco prior to his graduating, Parsons found a book on computer programming and read it on his way home. He started experimenting by writing programs with no instruction whatsoever " a computer programmer was born.
"My hobby of writing programs would soon become my career," Parsons said."My first computer was a Radio Shack, then an Apple and finally I borrowed $5,000 and bought the first IBM personal computers to come out."
Parsons developed a few programs and figured if it was good enough for him, then it was good enough for others and Parsons Technology was born right in his basement. With two dismal failures and some serious "lessons learned," on the third try, Parsons Technology grew to 1,000 employees with a market share of 5 percent, but there was still more change to come for this once lance corporal.
"I saw the writing on the wall as this industry was shrinking, comments Parsons."So, I sold the company to Intuit for $64 million, retired and moved to Arizona. Problem was that I could not sit still so in 1997, also just as a hobby or for something to do, I started GODADDY.com."
Yet again Parsons flirted with being totally broke with numerous circumstances being involved, but yet again, he credits the Marine Corps with pulling him through and certifies that his business is always about the service of it patrons.
"Since 1997, when I started Go Daddy, there was only one principle that I used to build the company. It's a simple one. Do the right thing for the customers and provide them with as good a deal as possible. No smoke and mirrors -- ever. The whole idea back then, and it continues today, is to make a little money from a lot of people. This differs from many companies who have just the opposite philosophy," said the Baltimore native.
Parsons now enjoys a great company in GODADDY.com as well as having a weekly radio show and extremely successful and visited BLOG on www.bobparsons.com. It is a witty, respectful yet "in-your-face" approach to life and solutions and for all you Marines out there, ensure that you take a look at his annual Marine Corps birthday card he puts out -- you can still see them. One patron of GODADDY.com left his compliment of the company while visiting Parsons' blog.
"Bob, I loved the Go Daddy commercials! Thanks for posting the storyboards and rejected commercials. They were very entertaining. I have hundreds of domains with you guys for a reason - great customer service and support! Bottom-line, you guys are heads and shoulders above the competition and, 'walk the talk,' everyday! Keep up the great job," read the posting.