There are occasional moments in life where we can pinpoint a moment when something changed forever in the life of a person or a corporation.
Change usually occurs gradually over time. For both individuals and companies, the path to success is usually built on a long road traveled with diligence and patience. Wealth then comes from years of hard work. And the rare overnight successes are often transient. Bob Parsons’ story — and the story of his web-hosting empire — both buck and cleave to these parameters.
For Bob Parsons and the web hosting company GoDaddy, success came in a rush, but it came thanks to years of concerted effort and personal growth coupled with the right corporate model at the right time.
Bob Parsons was not born into a wealthy family, and he spent his youth largely working multiple jobs. He served and was wounded in the Vietnam War, and then went on to graduate magna cum laude from the University of Baltimore in his home state of Maryland.
Here was clearly a man driven to succeed. From his humble beginnings he had already been providing for himself, served as a Marine, and graduated from college with high honors at 25. Mr. Parsons went on to study the emerging field of computer programming. His “study” was largely self-taught. It was still early in the days of democratization of computing technology, and the field was anything but easy to navigate. Nevertheless, Parsons became an experienced programmer and software developer / designer.
By 1984, Bob Parsons was ready to found his first company, which he called Parsons Technology. The company’s bread and butter was accounting software that allowed people greater control of their personal finance management. The company did so well that Parsons sold it in the mid-90s and considered retiring for good. Fortunately for him and for many who use the internet, Mr. Parsons’ retirement was short lived. He soon founded the company that would cement his name and fame in our culture forever: GoDaddy.com.
GoDaddy was formed as a web hosting company, to make it easier and more affordable for smaller businesses and individuals to have their own websites. In the latter half of the 1990s, the time was just right for a company like this to emerge. But even a great idea developed at the right time needs the right idea for kick-off. Bob Parsons and GoDaddy.com found memorable commercials were to launch them high and strong between the uprights.
There is an undeniable GoDaddy “feel” to their ads, which feature beautiful, usually famous women who are impressive and accomplished in their own right. Best known, perhaps, is the brunette race car driver Danica Patrick, whose SuperBowl commercials for the company put GoDaddy front and center and brought her face and abilities to prominent attention of the country’s young men. The ad campaigns of GoDaddy, while perhaps not perfect for general audiences, are staggering successes.
By 2005, GoDaddy.com was confrimed as the biggest registrar of domain names on the internet. Bob Parsons had left working class Maryland, left the paddies of Vietnam, and never stopped moving forward. He stepped down as CEO of the company he formed in 2011, with the company worth billions.
It is perhaps no exaggeration to say that Bob Parson’s life is a true Ezra Pound type of story: from humble beginnings, through hard work, intelligence, and a keen sense of his place and time, Parsons not only made a wonderful life for himself, but he also launched a company whose offerings have made life that much easier and more convenient for millions and millions of people.