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GoDaddy’s shares go big in first day of trading after IPO

April 1, 2015, 9:56 PM UTC

GoDaddy’s IPO was nearly a decade in the making, and it seems to have been worth the wait.

The web-hosting company and Internet domain name registrar officially made its market debut Wednesday, raising about $460 million with its much-anticipated IPO. Trading under the ticker symbol “GDDY,” GoDaddy saw its shares jump about 30% above its initial pricing of $20 per share, topping the $26 mark shortly after the market opened Wednesday morning. The shares more or less maintained that level through closing, finishing the day at $26.15 per share, with a market value greater than $5 billion.

GoDaddy (GDDY) previously filed for an IPO in 2006, less than a decade after it was founded, but that move was called off by founder and then-CEO Bob Parsons, who was no fan of the SEC’s “quiet period” rules for companies planning an initial offering. Wednesday’s market debut comes about four years after the company sold to a group of private equity firms for $2.25 billion.

For GoDaddy, known for its history of raunchy — sometimes sexist — advertisements, the IPO is part of the company’s shift away from its bad-boy past. Fortune wrote last year about how the company was working to cater to the very segment it may have once offended with its racy ads: women, who run a majority of the small businesses in the U.S.

GoDaddy, which boasts 13 million customers and 59 million domains registered, has looked to expand its business in recent years beyond Internet domains to tools marketed to entrepreneurs, including for marketing and bookkeeping. Wednesday’s strong market debut could be a sign that investors are excited about this new iteration of GoDaddy, which saw a 23% spike in revenue last year but has also consistently lost money, including $143 million in losses last year.

In an interview with Fortune on Wednesday, current GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving said the company’s post-IPO goal is to start stringing together strong quarterly results. “From the business perspective, we need to make sure we’re delivering our own expectations of growth for the top-line and EBITDA and cash-flow. From the customer perspective, we need to keep growing our base , offering new products and improve things we’ve already built,” Irving said.