Go Daddy has for a while been building out its domain registering and hosting business into business services to create new revenue streams to compete against the likes of Google and Amazon in serving the small/medium business sector, and today that strategy took a mobile turn, with the launch of a new mobile component to its Website Builder service. Go Daddy customers can now optimize websites for the mobile web, or create new ones altogether, and they can also now add in mobile commerce services as part of that process.
Jason Rosenthal, the operating executive at investor Silver Lake Partners who now also serves as Go Daddy’s president of products and technology, tells TechCrunch that the new product is part of a longer-term strategy to work a lot more mobile services into Go Daddy’s business.
“The way we think about it is, where is the market today and where is it going?” he asks. “We’re hearing loud and clear that mobile is becoming a huge channel for our small and medium business customers, so we want to be there.” This could also lead the company into some acquisitions in the future: Go Daddy earlier this year acquired Outright, a cloud-based financial management company, and at the time the company noted that it was looking to build out its services business with more strategic acquisitions.
For now, adding in the mobile component to its Website Builder is also a sign of how strong mobile has already become for Go Daddy and the businesses that it hosts.
Rosenthal says that traffic from mobile devices to those sites is up by more than 350% in the last two years. For GoDaddy.com itself, which gets 30 million visitors per month, he says that about 11% of its traffic comes from mobile devices, and he adds that this is a typical traffic proportion for the millions of other sites hosted by Go Daddy. That traffic is also an answer for why Go Daddy has chosen to tackle the mobile web first before apps, even though research seems to show that apps are generally getting more traffic these days.
The other big opportunity, however, is that only some 93% of websites at the moment do not have sites that are optimized for mobile devices — meaning that when people visit them they don’t get the best experience on their handsets or tablets, with buttons possibly too small, or navigation impossible across the small screen. An example of what that might mean in practice and the tools that Go Daddy is offering as part of its basic service to improve the experience:
Most of the small businesses that look to Go Daddy for registrar, hosting and other services are not necessarily going to be tech-minded, or interested in learning to code, so Go Daddy is trying to make the process as simple as possible particularly at the lower tier of service. “What we’ve found for our small business customers is that what’s most effective is for us to make things simple and easy for them,” says Rosenthal. “If you’re a landscaping business, you are thinking, how can I provide the best landscaping, not the best website.”
Go Daddy is not building its mobile web optimization service from scratch. Rosenthal says it is partnering with DudaMobile to provide the optimization. It’s a service that DudaMobile is also providing to Google for its GoMo initiative to get more businesses mobilized, and that also points to where the opportunity and competition lies for these large cloud-based companies.
On the other hand, the mobile shopping component is something that Go Daddy itself has built as an extension of the Quick Shopping Cart service that it already offers to its customers. This is still a relatively small business for the company. Although Go Daddy hosts millions of websites and is registrar to many more, it only has about 56,000 accounts on its Quick Shopping Cart books at the moment — although even that small number are already generating $1 billion in transactions annually.
Pricing. Go Daddy is going easy on the pricing for these mobile services at the moment, and they are largely being marketed, it seems, as a way of driving more business to their Website Builder tool as a whole. The Website builder is priced at three tiers of $5.69, $8.54 and $12.74, and the basic mobile builder, for site optimization, is free with all of them. The premium service, where site owners can build more customized sites for users and track email, calendar, online storage and account management, comes free with only the two higher tiers.
Similarly, the Mobile Shopping Cart is priced at tiers of $9.99, $29.99 and $49.99 and a basic mobile commerce service comes free with all of those, but a more customized product (for example to charge at different prices for different items or provide more accounting back-end services) is only free at the two higher tiers.
I asked Rosenthal if Go Daddy’s move into more services like these are a sign of how the company may be seeing a slowdown in its core business of domain registration and hosting — a business which took a massive PR hit in September when the company experienced a mass outage, taking out thousands of sites and raising questions around security and hacking (allegations that were later denied by Go Daddy). Quite the contrary, he answered. That business has never been busier.
The fact of the matter is, though, is that as the world of tech continues to mature, people come to expect more out of their experience, and with companies like Google and Amazon also offering it to them, Go Daddy, which already has a relationship with the sites, is stepping up to make sure that others don’t eat its lunch.