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CEOs Gone Wild: Bob Parsons


GoDaddy chief no stranger to diamond earrings, controversy, profit.


Bob Parsons, the man at the helm of Internet domain name registrar, doesn't really care what you think.

Not a fan of big game hunting? Parsons killed an elephant on a safari.

Get bent out of shape over the objectification of women, especially as a rudimentary -- and wildly successful -- marketing ploy? GoDaddy's now-infamous, insanely gratuitous 2005 Super Bowl commercial featured a scantily-clad former foot fetish model. (Good thing the Fox network pulled it after its initial airing, given this hypersensitive era of wardrobe malfunctions.)

Minyanville's CEOS Gone Wild

Believe in a one-strike policy? Parsons repeat-offended in 2008 with a spot that instructed viewers to visit the GoDaddy website to see for themselves an even racier commercial, called "Exposure," that Fox had refused to air that year. Apparently, animatronic beavers are suggestive, in a double-entendre sort of way.

On the company website, Parsons describes this approach to marketing as "GoDaddy-esque." That is to say, "fun, edgy and a bit inappropriate."

Despise the bawdy and juvenile? On his weekly SIRIUS (SIRI) and XM Radio (XMSR)broadcast, "Life Online," Parsons pontificates on a range of topics before signing off, "I just may bump with the fat lady tonight."

Are you a Wall Street shark or savvy investor always looking for that hot IPO? Parsons nixed plans to take GoDaddy public in 2006. According to CNN Money, he cited poor market conditions and called "the period mandated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, in which he went off the radio for 3 months, 'suffocating.'"

Recoil at a show of force? The Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient has a penchant for bodyguards - because you never know when some rival CEO is going to go for the jugular at an industry conference.

And Bob Parsons, no stranger to diamond earrings or self-aggrandizement, doesn't care to make a distinction between his business and personal life. In fact, he very deliberately blurs the lines.

A June 2005 entry on his blog, Hot Points, drew fire. In the post, he describes treatment of Guantanamo Bay detainees as "incredibly mild" in contrast to prisoners of war in the Middle East , who are liable to have "their heads hacked off." (In a rare about-face, the former Marine reconsidered and redacted the statement.)

One blogger called it "the first truly inappropriate use of a blog by a CEO that I've seen."

And Bob Parsons, who sold his software company, Parsons Technology, to Intuit (INTU) in 1994 before starting GoDaddy, doesn't have time to talk to you. He's quoted as saying:

"If a stranger calls me they better get right to the point. I insist that if someone is calling me and I don't know them, that they immediately get to the point with what they want.

"In fact, if I have someone on the line and they start rambling and simply talking about who they are, I will chime in that they have 30 seconds to get to the point. If they don't immediately get to the point, I hang up.

"Once they get to the point, if it's something I'm not interested in, I will simply say, 'I'm not interested,' and immediately hang up."

Unless you're a customer. In response to a question on Dot Journal about what GoDaddy brings to the table that others registrars don't, Parsons said: "Unlike many of our competitors, whose primary goal is to be profitable or to be acquired by another company, [our] primary goal is to provide customers with the very best experience anywhere."

For all of Parsons' grandstanding and envelope-pushing, the company he's built is nothing if not service-oriented.

In fact, that's another thing Parsons doesn't care for: Outsourcing.

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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