Former Marine, GoDaddy CEO Talks About His Rise to Success

Bob Parsons

Bob Parsons has 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.

Parsons, a former lance corporal, rifleman and current owner of the largest internet domain registry in the world,, has had a life full of challenges and only attributes his success to his few years as a United States Marine.

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"There is no doubt in my mind that the lessons I took away from the Corps [are] what has made me succeed in my life," Parsons said. "And I know for a fact that the Marine Corps is the only reason I graduated from high school."

Parsons enlisted in August 1968 in Baltimore. 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 said. "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 the 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," he said.

Parsons did get to the next day, and with some style; his 2004 Super Bowl 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," Parsons said. "This was fantastic. It caused so much talk that our market share shot through the roof."

It was here that GoDaddy took off and 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. It's 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 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. Parsons Technology was born right in his basement. With two dismal failures and some serious "lessons learned," Parsons Technology grew to 1,000 employees on the third try with a market share of 5%, but there was still more change to come for this former lance corporal.

"I saw the writing on the wall as this industry was shrinking," Parsons said. "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"

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 its patrons.

"Since 1997, when I started GoDaddy, 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," the Baltimore native said. "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."

Parsons now enjoys a great company in, as well as having a weekly radio show and an extremely successful blog at It is a witty, respectful yet "in-your-face" approach to life and solutions. For all you Marines out there, make sure you look at his annual Marine Corps birthday card he puts out; you can still see it. One patron of complimented the company while visiting Parsons' blog.

"Bob, I loved the GoDaddy 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.

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