This conversation delves deep into the nuances of how a sophisticated product organization thinks about new products through customer-driven innovation, internal innovation, as well as external ecosystem-driven innovation.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s introduce you and GoDaddy a little bit so we can set context that frames our conversation today.
Steven Aldrich: I have been very fortunate to work with entrepreneurs. Many of them wouldn’t call themselves entrepreneurs. I spent some time in Intuit in their Quickbooks team. I spent some time as an entrepreneur. Now I’ve been at GoDaddy for over half a decade. What we’re trying to do at GoDaddy is, we’re aligned with what you’re doing in One Million by One Million, which is helping people who have ideas and turn them into reality.
GoDaddy has 17 million customers around the world, most of whom are people who own their own venture. Those could be a small business owner, a local community organization, or a non-profit. It’s someone who had an idea and wanted to ensure that the idea got out into the world. We’ll help them get a domain name, get a website, get communications tools, get security, and help them grow their venture.
Sramana Mitra: You have been in this small business world for a long time.
Steven Aldrich: I have been. When I was a kid, my dad was a professor who studied entrepreneurship for a living. I didn’t realize this until I was an adult. When I went on a sabbatical with my folks, my dad was going to do research into small businesses and small businesses interaction with their local communities.
We spent time in the UK. We spent time in Germany. As I’ve gotten older and had a chance to really understand the research that he does, it’s been a delightful intersection of what he does as a professor and what I do in my day job running product teams. You might say I was groomed to think about small business owners. I’ve spent, between Intuit and GoDaddy, well over 15 years working with small business owners and helping them succeed.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s focus on your current activities as the Head of Products at GoDaddy. Why don’t we frame the discussion with a little bit of information about GoDaddy’s product strategy? How do you think of corporate innovation in the context of GoDaddy’s product strategy? What is the philosophy? What is the structure?
Steven Aldrich: GoDaddy’s strength, historically, has been in helping democratize domain names. The company was founded to make it easy for individuals to get a domain and use that domain to get their idea onto the web. That’s still roughly half of our revenues and almost every one of our customers owns at least one domain from GoDaddy.
We’ve got over 70 million domain names under management. We’re the largest domain registrar in the world. The breadth, though, over the last 20 years has expanded from getting a domain name. We help you use that name towards the ultimate job that you were trying to compete in the Clayton Christensen concept of jobs.
We know that people get a domain and connect it to an online presence. It might be a website that they might build themselves or have designer or developer build on their behalf. We have products that are do-it-yourself website builders. We have hosting products. We’re the largest WordPress hosting company in the world. We’ve got a hosting platform for web professionals as well as small businesses. That’s quite a large business for us as well.
We saw, not surprisingly, folks wanting to communicate with prospects and customers using their brand as well. We connect the domain to a domain-based email. All of this gets wrapped in security and gets wrapped in marketing services, and is supported by customer care.
We’ve got three major lines of business. We might aggregate these into naming, online presence, and hosting. Then communications services and productivity are all wrapped into one to help that business manage and grow their firm.
Those lines of business are in various stages of evolution. When I think about our goals, we have to continuously bring in new customers, whether through those feeder or anchor products and they purposely buy those first services. Then, how do we help that business owner connect that service to a product that they want to use in order to get their brand out in front of more folks. That’s the macro-level strategy. The goals from here are, how do we continue to grow the number of people who come to GoDaddy to get these services, and how do we help them achieve value from our products.