GoDaddy prices IPO in shift from bad-boy to public company

March 31, 2015, 11:54 PM UTC

GoDaddy priced its much-anticipated initial public offering Tuesday evening at $20 a share, according to reports, giving the Internet domain hosting company a valuation of nearly $4.5 billion.

The final price was slightly higher than the expected range of $17 and $19, Reuters said, suggesting strong demand for shares in the company, which is best known for its raunchy Super Bowl ads.

GoDaddy raised $440 million in the IPO, which it filed in June. The company’s shares will start trading Wednesday morning under the ticker symbol “GDDY.”

The GoDaddy filing followed another filing earlier in the day from handcrafted goods marketplace Etsy, which set the preliminary pricing range for its own upcoming IPO.

GoDaddy, which was founded in 1997, first filed for an IPO in 2006 before scrapping those plans over supposed valuation concerns. However, at the time, the founder and then-CEO Bob Parsons said he was opposed to SEC “quiet period” regulations in the lead-up to IPOs.

In 2011, a group of private equity firms bought GoDaddy for $2.25 billion and brought in new leadership to take it public.

The company says it has about 13 million customers and a market-leading 59 million registered domains. In February, GoDaddy reported roughly $1.4 billion in revenue for 2014, which represented almost a 23% gain from the previous year. However, the company continues to lose money, with $143 million in losses last year after ending 2013 nearly $200 million in the hole.

With the company on the verge of its market debut, GoDaddy has been working to move past its controversial reputation while promoting other services aside from just domain names. In addition to Internet domains, the company sells entrepreneurs various online business services, including marketing tools and bookkeeping software. (A Fortune magazine piece last year covered how GoDaddy worked to change the tone of its racy, sometimes sexist, ads in order to better appeal to women, who represent a large swath of the country’s small business owners.)

GoDaddy’s successful IPO suggests that the market for new issues may finally be warming following three months of slow movement. The IPO market has been tepid despite a few high-profile splashes from companies such as the Shake Shack burger chain and online storage company Box.

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