Anyone can change

Update: Change is hard. I wrote this 20 months ago, but after seeing some of the responses on social media to my article on GoDaddy acquiring ManageWP, I was surprised that GoDaddy’s changes as a company haven’t been more widely recognized. They’ve been working to improve for a long time, so I figured I’d make this (my first Club Member’s only post I ever wrote) article free.

Today, I’m reflecting on PressNomics. I have a ton of stuff for subscribers and regular readers alike that will stem from this event. The event couldn’t have been better: I was surrounded by newsmakers, business owners, and potential customers.

But for subscribers, I want to share a particular lesson I learned. That is this: anyone can change.

This is a story about (wait for it) … GoDaddy.

Yeah, I know. Until a few months ago, my answer if someone said the name GoDaddy to me would probably be, “Ugh.”

A few months ago, my answer would’ve changed. It would require more. Something along the lines of, “Ugh. Man, they are tossing a lot of money at WordPress. I guess they finally caught on.”

But I — not thinking as I often fail to do — wouldn’t have guessed that GoDaddy could really be different.

I’m convinced I was wrong. I’m convinced that they can change, and that they are changing.

Yeah, GoDaddy sponsored PressNomics, and yeah, they’ve got money to burn if they want to go after a market. But I picked up on more.

I spent a couple of hours with a couple of different folks at GoDaddy this week, primarily Mendel Kurland and Christopher Carfi, who are GoDaddy evangelists. Jeff King is a Senior Vice President and General Manager of Hosting, and he was also at the event, in addition to members of their development and outreach teams. In short, they put some people on the pavement for PressNomics.

I like to think I’m decently capable of getting a good read on someone. And in these conversations, I wasn’t always tender. I went interview-format on these guys at certain points. And I came away with a realization that these are not folks just doing their job or trying to sell a big or influential audience.

They care about the work they are doing, they know the way people in our world view GoDaddy, and they are actively trying to change. They’re trying to change the perception, yes; but they’re also trying to change the product for the better.

Is that slow going? Of course it is. It takes time to build good stuff. But they are trying, and while they are of course in business to make money, they also visibly care.

They don’t like the elephant-shooting, sexual-innuendo, bad-product stereotype any more than we do. In fact, they hate being under that perception, because while they’re busy trying to show us they’ve changed, they’re seeing the change internally all the time. Management at GoDaddy has overhauled, all the way to CEO. And new management is setting a new direction.

Over the next several years, I think we’ll see a different GoDaddy than we’ve known (and assumed) in the past. I’ve already seen evidence of their progress in conversations with other people at PressNomics. Their passion is showing. Passion spurs progress. Progress is good. And for a company with 12 million customers — millions of which are on WordPress — progress at the host-level will make WordPress better.

Here’s my takeaway: GoDaddy is changing. They still have a lot to work to do, but they’ve certainly got my attention. And if they keep getting better, that is great news for the WordPress world.