It might have gone under the radar for a while, but GoDaddy is public now, and so when CTO and EVP Elissa Murphy tendered her resignation last week, the company was obliged to file notice with the SEC. She's leaving for Google, according to a statement GoDaddy provided to Fortune.
A little less than a year ago, Wired ran a profile of the new GoDaddy that began: "When GoDaddy named Blake Irving as its new CEO, Elissa Murphy was one of the first people he called." Irving persuaded Murphy to join the company as CTO, and the article goes on to feature Murphy just as prominently as it does him. Irving counted on Murphy to help GoDaddy overcome is past as a purveyor of racy and often controversial ads, and also as the cheapest possible solution for consumers wanting domain names or websites. In her three years at the company she recruited high-powered female tech talent, led an expansion from 30,000 to 100,000 servers, and helped the company better serve the small business market, not just in the United States but worldwide.
But now, as the company slogan goes, "It's go time." As of May 17, Murphy will be gone from GoDaddy. The announcement could certainly have come at a better time for the low-cost hosting company. Since its IPO just over a year ago, stock prices have bounced up and down, though they're currently up about 20 percent. The company's performance for the first quarter of 2016 beat analysts expectations, and some say it has a rosy future as the "Walmart of the domain industry." Worldwide, the vast majority of small businesses still don't have a website, so there's a lot of room for the company to grow its business. But Murphy and her expertise building infrastructure was a big component of those growth plans.
Did Google poach Murphy? Neither has made a public statement about the move, but it certainly seems a possibility, given her proven talents in creating cloud infrastructure and Google's high-profile push into the cloud services market. Since Murphy previously ran cloud services at Yahoo, it may also signal that Google is serious about acquiring that troubled company.
While that question remains unanswered, the move seems like it could be good news for small business owners. Lately, Google has been making an obvious play for large enterprise customers, landing Spotify for example, and offering a video tour of one of its data centers that seems designed to reassure corporate IT folks. That left me wondering whether Google was trying to move away from its small business roots. But hiring Murphy makes it look like the company is looking to build its cloud business with both large and small customers.