It goes without saying that Go Daddy is one of the most easily recognizable names in web hosting today and it’s not difficult to see why. The Go Daddy name has been synonymous with reliable and efficient, yet affordable web hosting options for many years. As a result, it’s changed the way people approach websites, web hosting, and the Internet in general. However, the Go Daddy brand took a huge hit back in 2011 because of controversy surrounding former CEO, Bob Parsons.
Bob Parsons first created and founded domain registrar and web hosting service, Go Daddy in 1997 during the golden age of Internet growth. It was originally known as Jomax Technologies, but would acquire the catchy Go Daddy name two years later in 1999. The name was chosen for the way it made people smile, but was also catchy and memorable to people who heard it. Over time, timing, quality services, and good business practice would make Go Daddy the leading registrar on the entire Internet.
However, even the most solid brands and reputations can take a beating if their representatives aren’t mindful of their reputations. That’s exactly what happened when Bob Parsons decided to tweet a video to his followers in 2011.
Elephant Shooting Incident in Zimbabwe
Parsons was on vacation in Zimbabwe at the time of the now infamous tweet. The video he decided to share showed both Parsons and other members of his hunting party hunting, shooting, and killing indigenous elephants. Allegedly, the elephants had been damaging the crops and surrounding property of native Zimbabwe farmers and Parsons’ party had decided to help resolve the issue. The video also shows footage of a dead elephant bull and damaged local farmland.
“I spend a few weeks in Zimbabwe each year helping the farmers deal with problem elephants”, said Parsons when asked when asked about his part in the killings. “The people there have very little, many die each year from starvation and one of the problems they have is the elephants, of which there are thousands and thousands, that trash many of their fields destroying the crops. The tribal authorities request that I and others like me, patrol the fields before and during the harvest — we can’t cover them all, there are just a few of us — and drive the elephant from the fields.”
Parsons went on to explain that he figured the resulting fallout might happen in regards to his choice to share the video, but that he isn’t ashamed of what he did. He stresses that people in the first world don’t understand what it’s like to have to deal with some of the issues these farmers were dealing with in regards to the elephants.
Shooting the elephants comes attached to a two-fold benefit for the people of Zimbabwe – the preservation of their valuable farm land and livelihood and a food source in the form of the elephant that will feed the local people for a long period of time. Parsons even said that because of the benefit for the local villages, he considers his annual trip to Zimbabwe to help with this issue to be among one of the most rewarding things he does. He also stated that he hopes to be able to continue helping in this way into the future.
Unfortunately, many of Go Daddy’s business partners and customers did not see the incident the same way Parsons did. For instance, PETA made the decision to close the account it held with Go Daddy due to the incident and PETA officials strongly urged the general public to do the same. There was also quite an outcry on the Internet at large in regards to the posting of the video, many from upset customers echoing PETA’s sentiments that they were no longer comfortable supporting a company run by someone who supported the hunting of elephants.
Parsons remained unconcerned, stating that he felt the great majority of the people concerned about the incident were not his regular customers. Although the reputation of the Go Daddy brand did take an initial hit, the brand itself is still going strong and has recovered, despite the fact that Bob Parsons stepped down as CEO also in 2011.