Here’s how the hype cycle for high-profile startups has been working of late. A company raises a ton of money from venture capitalists, catches on with customers, generates a ton of buzz and a lofty valuation—and then suffers some kind of fall from grace, resulting in lowered expectations.
Here’s how the reality cycle has worked for GoDaddy, the not-so new, somewhat high-profile provider of domain names and other Internet services for small businesses. GoDaddy built its business slowly, generated a ton of buzz from sexist TV ads, sold out to private equity firms, improved its products and image—and has been a plodding success since its April initial public offering.
Indeed, in a year of few tech-industry IPOs, most of which disappointed, GoDaddy is a shining example of how business and finance are supposed to work.
I wrote about GoDaddy a year before it went public. At the time, veteran Microsoft and Yahoo executive Blake Irving had recently taken over as CEO and was in the process of cleaning up Go Daddy’s act. (Irving once aspired to the top job at Yahoo. Talk about a bullet dodged.) Irving’s game plan was straightforward. GoDaddy needed more effective marketing, snazzier products, and an expansion plan into international markets.
Today, GoDaddy has 13.6 million customers in 37 countries. It is focusing in particular on making its products locally appealing in Asian markets, such as Japan, Korea, Singapore, and China. The stock went public at $20 and now is around $34.
Like any company, GoDaddy faces challenges. Its private-equity owners, who can be justifiably proud of their financial and operational reengineering of the company, will cash out at some point, putting pressure on its stock. Google, which can strike terror in the heart of any competitor, recently began selling a competing product, Google Domains. “Google has struggled previously with domain-related solutions but even small announcements” can spook investors, warns Morgan Stanley. Presumably Google could pick off customers too.
All told, it’s a joy—‘tis the season, right?—to reflect on a success story from a year dominated by turbulence. GoDaddy, the Internet’s bad boy for years, has cleaned up its act.
BITS AND BYTES
Dell proceeds with plan to spin out cybersecurity division. SecureWorks, which the company bought for $612 million back in 2011, has filed for an initial public offering. Dell is shedding non-core assets to help close an estimated $10 billion funding gap for its mammoth acquisition of EMC, which was announced back in October. (Fortune)
Apple and Samsung take mobile payments to China. Both Apple Pay and Samsung Pay should be available to Chinese consumers by early 2016, thanks to deals both companies cut with an association of more than a dozen local banks. The idea is to get both services live before the Chinese New Year, a big shopping season in the country. (Fortune, Verge)
Alibaba gets another slap on the wrist over fakes. U.S. trade officials warned the Chinese e-commerce giant again about selling counterfeit goods. Still, it stopped short of naming Alibaba on its list of "notorious markets" for fakes, which is seen as a lobbying victory for the company. (Reuters)
Apple finally fills Tim Cook's old job. Apple hasn't had a chief operating officer since Cook took over from Steve Jobs in 2011, although veteran Jeff Williams has pretty much been doing the job for the past four years.Fortune)(
Facebook will pay employees to move closer to work. How's this for a corporate perk? Facebook is offering one-time payments of at least $10,000 to employees who rent or buy homes within 10 miles of its campus in Menlo Park, Calif. The program was motivated in part by the San Francisco Bay Area's notoriously lengthy commutes. (Reuters)
U.S. fines identity protector LifeLock $113 million over shoddy security. LifeLock offers services that help consumers safeguard their personal data from identity theft. The settlement disclosed Thursday pertains to the FTC's concerns over allegedly deceitful advertising and weak data security the company used to secure confidential data, such as Social Security numbers and bank account information. (Fortune)
Landlords want cut of Airbnb fees. Many "hosts" who rent their digs temporarily using Airbnb are themselves renters that use the site on the sly. That's because real estate management companies don't currently benefit from the arrangements. Airbnb is discussing potential ways to change that, so more renters can list their apartments openly. This could dramatically increase the number of rental units on the site. (Wall Street Journal)
How close is Star Wars' transportation tech to reality? Now that we’ve got this whole Internet thing figured out (right?), transportation is one of the big tech growth spots for the 21st century. And as we work to move people and cargo faster, smarter, and more efficiently, what better benchmark is there for evaluating our progress than Star Wars? None of these ideas are based on The Force Awakens, so enjoy some spoiler-free, pre-holiday reading. (Fortune)
MORE FORTUNE TECH COVERAGE
BlackBerry CEO John Chen calls out Apple's approach to security
by Kif Leswing
Music royalties adjusted: Did Taylor get her way? by Don Reisinger
His charge will go on? Leo DiCaprio invests in smart outlet startup
by Stacey Higginbotham
Why Apple, Tesla, and Uber are not 'disruptive' by Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Here's what happens when your company focuses only on data
by Allison Berliner
Apple Music could catch up to Spotify in 2016 by Tom Huddleston, Jr.
How the WhatsApp ban caused a 'sad day' in Brazil by Don Reisinger
ONE MORE THING
The trouble with smarter toys. Today's talking dolls don't just parrot a few simple phrases, they learn from what children say so their responses change over time. Parents are concerned about privacy implications, certainly. They're also worried about potential psychological effects. (Wall Street Journal)
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
CES: The big show for consumer technology. (Jan. 6 - 9; Las Vegas)
Google Ubiquitous Computing Summit: Platforms and protocols for wearables, home automation, and the Internet of things. (Jan. 11 - 12; San Francisco area)
Connect: IBM's social business and digital experience event. (Jan. 31 - Feb. 3; Orlando, Florida)
IBM InterConnect: Cloud and mobile issues. (Feb. 21 - 25; Las Vegas)
Enterprise Connect: Communications and collaboration trends. (March 7 - 10; Orlando, Florida)
Microsoft Build: Microsoft's premier developer conference. (March 30 - April 1; San Francisco)
Microsoft Convergence: Where business meets possibility. (April 4 - 7; New Orleans)
EMC World: What's next for digital business. (May 2 - 5; Las Vegas)
Fortune Brainstorm E: The intersection of technology, energy, and sustainable business. (May 16 - 17; Carlsbad, California)
SAPPHIRE Now: SAP's annual conference. (May 17 - 19; Orlando, Florida)
Fortune Brainstorm Tech: The world's top tech and media thinkers, operators, entrepreneurs, innovators, and influencers. (July 11 - 13; Aspen, Colorado)
Microsoft Ignite: Product roadmaps and innovation. (Sept. 26 - 30; Atlanta)
OracleWorld. The future of the cloud is now. (Sept. 18 - 22, San Francisco)
Dreamforce: The Salesforce ecosystem gathers. (Oct. 4 - 7; San Francisco)
This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy: