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GOING PUBLIC

Second Time's a Charm? GoDaddy Strikes While the IPO Iron Is Hot

After one failed attempt at going public in 2006, Inc. 500 company Go Daddy decides the time has come now.
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Sometimes it's all about waiting for your moment.

Just ask domain registration company Go Daddy Group, which has been on the Inc. 500 list every year since 2004, when it debuted as #8 on the list.

News has it that Go Daddy, founded by entrepreneur Bob Parsons and based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is now in the final stages of preparing for its initial public offering, and has gone so far as choosing its investment bank underwriters--Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Chase. Go Daddy is the biggest domain registrar in the world, hosting and registering 57 million websites from 12 million customers.

But the company has tried to go public before. Specifically, in 2006 it had an unsuccessful attempt, although it presciently cited unfriendly market conditions in its withdrawal statement from August of that year. That's a far cry from now.

The Right Moment

GoDaddy's timing this go around may be better: IPOs for 2014 are off to a red-hot start, approaching dollar volume levels not seen since 2000, just as the Dotcom bubble was about to burst.

Through the end of March, 64 companies went public raising nearly $11 billion, according to research from IPO adviser and research company Renaissance Capital. That's more than double the number of companies that went public in the first quarter of 2013, and the highest number since the same period in 2000, Renaissance reports.

Many technology companies, such as social media star Twitter, have experienced extraordinary success going public. Twitter went public in November and has seen its stock price more than double since then. (There have also been some less than outstanding offerings, such as the one had by digital game maker King Digital, whose stock price fell precipitously on its first day of trading.)

What's Changed

In 2006, Go Daddy planned to raise $200 million from its IPO, according to the S-1 papers it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commisssion. Like many in today's flock of IPO hopefuls, the company was in the red, showing mounting losses year over year. For 2005, Go Daddy reported nearly $12 million losses for the year ended December 31, 2005, a more than 200 percent increase compared to same period in 2004.

Sales in 2005 were $140 million, nearly double what they had been in the year prior. Current GoDaddy revenue is on the order of $1 billion, according to Bloomberg.

And in a real hat-tip to history, the lead underwriter for the transaction was none other than Lehman Brothers, the now-defunct investment bank that came to symbolize the greed of the Great Recession.

In 2011, Go Daddy, sold itself to KohlbergKravisRoberts and Silver Lake Management for more than $2 billion.

Previously known for its suggestive advertisements featuring race car stars and others, Go Daddy has toned down its image lately as it goes after mobile users and more small business customers, and as it has sought to expand into international markets, such as India and Latin America. Blake Irving, who joined Go Daddy as its chief executive in 2013 after stints at Microsoft and Yahoo, has led both directives. Go Daddy competes against providers such as Endurance International Group, which went public in October, raising about $250 million.

IMAGE: Courtesy Company
Last updated: Apr 10, 2014

JEREMY QUITTNER | Staff Writer | Staff Writer, Inc. and Inc.com

Jeremy Quittner is a staff writer for Inc. magazine and Inc.com. He previously covered technology for American Banker and entrepreneurship for BusinessWeek.




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