GoDaddy CEO: “There Has To Be Consensus About The Leadership Of The Internet Community”

In a brief interview with TechCrunch, GoDaddy’s new CEO, Warren Adelman, did a little damage control relating to the company’s highly public reversal of its position on SOPA. GoDaddy had previously issued a strong statement of support for the controversial bill, which you can find here. The last day has seen a growing grassroots rejection of the company and its position in the form of a boycott (this Reddit thread has much related info). But today brought a statement from the company apparently doing a complete about-face.

Adelman noted that he had “been CEO of this company for all of one week,” and that the complaints and feedback had grown just over the last 24 hours, and it is during this time that he became involved. He said that the feedback made him realize they should “take a step back and look at the current legislation.” Of course, the outcry against SOPA and its twin in the Senate goes back much further.

I suggested it was easy to say they should take a step back, but that they had in fact already demonstrated strong support on the record for nearly every provision in the bill. Adelman declined to address this, saying he “can’t comment on the history of it up to this point.” When I asked whether the company still thinks the objections raised to SOPA are “unfounded,” he said that “there are others that need to voice their advocacy positions,” presumably alluding to the fact that testimony by experts and internet luminaries has been scarce.

Adelman couldn’t commit to changing its position on the record in Congress when asked about that, but said “I’ll take that back to our legislative guys, but I agree that’s an important step.” But when pressed, he said “We’re going to step back and let others take leadership roles.” He felt that the public statement removing their support would be sufficient for now, though further steps would be considered.

Lastly, on the subject of the company’s rather vague promise that “Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it,” I said it seemed unlikely that the internet community would ever support a bill of this type, and certainly not SOPA in any shape or form – so the statement is difficult to interpret. Adelman said “There has to be concensus about the leadership of the internet community. It’s a large community and a global one.” The

The statements made by GoDaddy and its new CEO are far from strong, but they may solidify with time. “Not supporting” is not the same as opposing, and on an issue like this the internet, by their own admission the source of their reversal, will demand opposition. They can’t avoid the fact that they were a strong, on-the-record supporter of the bill, however, and that may be something of an albatross for them for some time. While this quick reversal in the face of a widespread outcry may possibly be nothing but a business decision, it is still a business decision that could be a useful one in the opposition of SOPA and similar legislation.