Go Daddy CEO Mulls 2014 IPO, Joining Wave of Cloud Deals

Go Daddy Operating Co., the website registration and hosting company known for its salacious Super Bowl commercials, may sell shares to the public as early as next year, Chief Executive Officer Blake Irving said.

The Scottsdale, Arizona-based company is on track to generate $1.43 billion in revenue this year, and may reach $5 billion annually within the next two to three years, Irving said in an interview yesterday.

Sales are surging as more small companies turn to Go Daddy for Web-hosting as well as online services like bookkeeping and payments, he said. Go Daddy could ride a wave of successful initial public offerings from Web-based technology companies, including human-resources software maker Workday Inc. (WDAY), data visualization company Tableau Software Inc. (DATA) and information technology management software provider ServiceNow Inc. (NOW)

“There would be strong demand,” Tom Taulli, founder of Los Angeles-based IPOPlaybook.com, said in an interview. “Go Daddy is a known brand, a top player in its market, and cloud IPOs have been red hot.”

Based on Irving’s projections for sales growth, Go Daddy could be worth more than $6 billion in an IPO, Taulli said. Workday, which analysts estimate will record $439.4 million in revenue this fiscal year, is valued at $11.7 billion.

“The growth we are seeing positions us very well to be a public company,” Irving said. “We could go public today. But I want to demonstrate that execution against my strategy is happening.”

Withdrawn IPO

Irving declined to comment on how much money Go Daddy would seek in an IPO or whether the company has picked banks to lead the offering. Go Daddy filed to go public in 2006, and withdrew the plans within months, citing unfavorable market conditions, such as “escalating hostilities throughout the Middle East, skyrocketing oil prices and technology stocks once again taking a beating on Wall Street.”

Investment firms KKR & Co., Silver Lake Management LLC and Technology Crossover Ventures bought a stake in Go Daddy in July 2011, in a deal valuing the company at $2.25 billion, a person with knowledge of the matter said at the time. Go Daddy projected revenue that year of $1.1 billion.

While Go Daddy serves mostly small businesses, the brand is recognized among consumers because of a history of provocative Super Bowl ads every January featuring celebrities like race-car driver Danica Patrick and Israeli model Bar Refaeli. In an interview in February on “Bloomberg West,” Irving said the Super Bowl ads generate enough attention to carry “us all the way through the middle of the year.”

Global Expansion

Irving joined Go Daddy seven months ago and was previously chief product officer at Yahoo! Inc. He’s focused on expanding beyond the U.S., which accounts for 80 percent of revenue, and bolstering his executive team and engineering staff.

Go Daddy is pushing into Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and other countries this year and next with the goal of eventually counting on non-U.S. markets for 70 percent of sales, Irving said. He’s also planning to make the company’s websites available in several dozen languages.

Since taking over as CEO, Irving has revamped the senior staff. His hires include former Yahoo executive Elissa Murphy as chief technology officer and Microsoft Corp. veteran Arnold Blinn as chief architect. He’s also added about 400 employees, bringing the total to 3,500, and opened offices in Sunnyvale, California, and near Seattle.

To contact the reporter on this story: Olga Kharif in Portland at okharif@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

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