SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., June 4, 2009 -- If you know anything at all about the Internet Web site GoDaddy.com, you probably heard it first from the "Go Daddy Girls" -- the busty babes who front the company on Internet and TV commercials.
The Go Daddy Girls don't say much -- if anything -- about what the company actually does. But that's just fine with Go Daddy's founder and chief executive Bob Parsons.
"To me, if somebody has a familiarity with GoDaddy.com and no idea what we do, I'd rather have that than no idea whatsoever," Parsons told ABC News, sitting at the conference table in his office here, where he does much of his work.
GoDaddy.com is an Internet services company with a core business of registering domain names. It also offers a wide array of Web-based services, such as building Web sites on line, which are hard to advertise and certainly not very sexy.
The phenomenon of the Go Daddy Girls started during the 2005 Super Bowl, when Parsons aired a commercial featuring a well-endowed woman who had a Janet Jackson-like wardrobe malfunction in front of an obviously uncomfortable older man.
"Our market share was 16 percent," Parsons said. "The week after that commercial, it was 25 percent worldwide. Now, if you were in my position, would you do the same thing again?"
That's what Parsons did -- again and again. Go Daddy is now the leading registrar of Internet domain names, registering a new one on the average of every second.
Parsons, 58, a big-game hunting, motorcycle-riding marine veteran, who wears a diamond earring, said he has made millions, lost millions and made millions again, taking business risks. Above all, he believes business should be interesting, fun and serve the customer.
"One of the things that I believe in is that if you run your business for the sole idea of making money, you can never be successful," he said. "If I go out there and I say, 'Let's deliver service that's going to wow everybody, let's change this industry, let's have better products, let's have lower prices, let's empower people.' Well, you know what? Everybody gets invested in that."
Parsons says customer service is the foundation of business. He sells his services at low prices and tries to ensure that each customer is satisfied. Every transaction -- even if it's just the $9.95-a-year promotion -- is followed up with a phone call from the customer service center, which is staffed by live human beings 24 hours a day.
GoDaddy.com Treats Employees to Cash, Vacation, Prizes
The CEO also believes in treating his employees as well as, if not better than, customers. While other companies are facing layoffs, cancelling holiday parties and stripping benefits, GoDaddy.com is giving away cash, vacations -- and even a year's worth of mortgage payments to his best performers.
In a recent contest, several top employees were put in a plastic booth, where they grabbed as much cash as they could from a fan blowing bills in the air. Employees then spun a wheel, and whatever number they landed on multiplied their cash winnings. Parsons always grabbed the wheel and stopped each spin at 10 times the amount, further rigging the contest in favor of the employees.
"It's almost impossible to spend too much money on your employees," Parsons said. "Whatever you spend on your employees comes back many fold."
He now employs more than 2,000 people, 300 of them hired this year, as other U.S. businesses shrink.
Bringing Go Daddy to Life Online
On the Internet or off it, Parsons does everything he can to give the company a face and an identity. The CEO hosts his own Internet radio show, and posts a video blog on the company Web site, which features his own musings and his sidekicks, the Go Daddy Girls.
"I'll tell you what," he said. "If the CEO of General Motors did something like this, you might find more people driving Chevrolets because they identify with them more."
Parsons loves being outrageous -- even if it means alienating half his audience to convince the other half to do business with him.
"Why not use every tool you have available to succeed at what you're doing?" he asked.
Although Parsons knows success, he has been close to failure. He sold Parsons Technology, his first technology company, for $64 million, but had to turn over half the money in a divorce settlement. Then, he poured the cash he had left into the company that became Go Daddy; spending to make it a success, he was down to a few million dollars before he started turning a profit.
He attributed much of his personal discipline to his time in the Marines, serving during the Vietnam War. He was wounded after a month in combat and his office is partly decorated with war memorabilia.
Despite his high-profile company, Parsons said his private life is secretly dull; he goes to bed early and gets up at 4:30 a.m. to ride one of his 18 motorcycles, which means his idea of dull might terrify just about everyone else.