GODADDY CEO BLAKE IRVING ON HIS COMPANY’S SECRET WEAPON

tumblr_static_biyu6si3f88c4kks84gwkgc8gService CEO, Michael, chats with GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving on gender equality, what it’s like to be at the helm of a public company, information security, and more. You can check it out in audio here: http://bit.ly/2bxEZfi. As always, the episode is available for download in iTunes as well, and we’ve included a full transcript below.

In this episode, we’ll discuss:

0:43 How does someone with a background in fine arts wind up being a leader in the tech industry?
2:51 Do you think there’s a connection between effective leadership and the fine arts?
5:42 You were in semi-retirement before GoDaddy. What was it about the company that got you back in the game?
11:36 Why Scottsdale? What’s the tech scene like there, and have you ever felt pressure to move to Silicon Valley?
14:53 Do you feel GoDaddy’s overtly sexual ads were a necessary evil? What did they do for the company?
17:38 Where did the name GoDaddy come from?
18:49 What’s your relationship like with Bob Parsons, who originally founded GoDaddy?
19:57 What’s it like being a public company CEO? What are the most surprising things about it?
22:30 What drives the incredibly high level of customer loyalty at GoDaddy? How do you get people to fall in love with a brand rather than just know about it?
24:54 Why Blake thinks of customer service as GoDaddy’s secret weapon.
29:47 Let’s talk about SOPA. Do you think there’s ever a case where it makes sense for a tech company to cooperate with a government agency if it conflicts with user privacy? How important is privacy to you?
31:49 How important is your open door policy to the success of GoDaddy? How do you go out of your way to make yourself accessible to employees at all levels?
34:53 Why is the fight for equal pay for women important to you? Why don’t other public company CEOs take a stand for it?
39:49 Where do bots fit in the future of GoDaddy’s customer service?
41:46 What do you think about social as the new medium for customer service? Do you use any bots that have impressed you in your day to day life?
44:32 What does it mean to be semi-retired? What were you doing during your hiatus?
46:24 Do you think you’ll ever fully retire?

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(Voiceover) Please hold the line. We will answer your call as soon as possible. Michael: I’m Michael Schneider, founder
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and CEO of Service.
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This is another edition of Please Hold.
Today I have a very special guest, Mr. Blake
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Irving, who is the CEO of GoDaddy, a
little registrar and provider of small
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business tools you may have heard of, and
Blake, I want to welcome you to the show. Thanks for being here.
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Blake: Thanks, Mike. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. I like that background, that
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brick background on you. Michael: I’m based in
LA, and we have a lot of earthquakes, so
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we like authentic brick in my neck of the woods.
Blake: I hope it’s been seismically retrofitted.
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Michael: It hasn’t at all, it’s a super old building, but
let’s hope there’s not an earthquake during
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this call.
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Blake: Awesome. Michael: So I want to jump right in with your history, and it’s very
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telling that there’s a drum set right
behind you.
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I read that your undergrad degree is
in fine art, and you were a drummer in college.
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Sort of like a drummer for hire,
maybe not a consistent band?
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And so I’m just curious what a
drummer and a fine art major is doing at
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the helm of one of the world’s most
important technology companies.
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Blake: Well, yeah, it’s interesting- I think
a lot of it has to do with what i found
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interesting as I was growing up, both in
studying art, and I was, truth be told,
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I was a graphic artist and a typographer.
So I was studying type, and what happened
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was, I had company, Xerox, who was very, very
early in computers and digital
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printing and digital typography, did a
portfolio review in one of the
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classes I was in and asked if I’d come in and
interview with them. This is ‘81, so long time
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ago, you know this is… Michael: Is this before or
after the Steve Jobs Xerox PARC, that
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whole thing? Blake: This is just around the same
time, a little before it, so that happened
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in like the mid ’80s. ’81 was a little
earlier than that, and so I went
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down to interview with them, and they put
me behind me on this thing called an
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Alto computer, which was a full
WYSIWYG workstation, 512k removable—
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10 megabyte
removable hard drive, 512K of RAM on this
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thing, attached to the ARPANET, laser
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printer 300 feet from your office, I
mean it was full automation and a lot of
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really bright guys doing some pretty
interesting things and I fell in love
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I just fell in love with doing that. Now
all the while I was doing that, I found, you
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know, I was a jazz musician growing up,
and found that to be an incredibly
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creative outlet for me, and I kept doing
that on weekends, and as you said, I was
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doing a lot of studio stuff. I didn’t
dedicate to one band, I played in a
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whole bunch of different kinds and was a
pretty reasonable sight reader, so when a
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band came into town, they needed somebody
to play their gig, you know, I’d get a phone
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call and say, “Hey, show up. There’s
rehearsals at this time, shows at this
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time,” and I would do that and then
work full-time.
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Michael: So do you think there’s a connection
because a lot of CEOs, if you think about
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left brain and right brain, a lot of CEOs,
I would say, are very analytical and not
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necessarily musicians or artists or
painters, but do you think there’s a
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connection between effective leadership
and the fine arts?
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Blake: Uh, you know, I think there’s a couple
different ways to look at it. I think
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that, you know, left brain or right brain, I
think most of the folks that I’ve met that
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have been more eclectic
backgrounds like mine that find
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themselves in leadership roles access
both sides, so there’s an analytical side
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and a creative side, and I think most of
the folks, especially software developers
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that I’ve met throughout my career, have
been musicians and artists and
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incredibly analytical at the same time,
but fancy themselves linguists as well
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as analysts and have, you know, very sharp views
on problem solving and how to go about
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that, but also have the thought that the
way that you express yourself in code
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can be incredibly personal, and in fact,
you know, folks, lot of the programmers I was
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working with at Microsoft in the early
’90s, fancy themselves sort of artists
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because they believe what they did was a
pure expression of their thought, and
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that they were going to express it
differently than anybody else would. Less…
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some folks were the less characters, the
better, you know, my comments matter, it was
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quite interesting actually, so I
think that that an art that is
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accessing both sides.
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In music, and this is interesting, when
you’re a drummer, and I used to
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playing 22-piece big bands and a lot of
jazz bands, and you’re reading charts and
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whatnot, and if you – your job in life is to
support all the rest of the musicians in
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the band, making sure that you’re laying
down a beat, that you’re reading four bars ahead, and
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you’re setting them up for breaks, and
and you know vamps, and all kinds of
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things, and you know exactly where you
are, and you can lead ’em down the path while
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they’re soloing on top of you, and
working ensemble work on top of you, so
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you’re really sitting in the back of the
band where most drummers sit; at least that’s where we
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ought to be, and the rest of the band is
actually playing on top of you, and your
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job is just to basically lead them just by
laying down a solid foundation they can
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play the top of, and I think, if I think of
leadership, generally I think that’s what
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leaders are supposed to do. You know,
every once in a while you might get a–
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maybe you get a drum solo, or you trade
fours with somebody, but honestly, your
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job as a leader is to lay a foundation
for the rest of the business to go build
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on, and I have found that to be
true across my career.
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Michael: Yeah, that’s a great analogy. There’s very few solo performers that are
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successful, it’s always a team effort so…
Blake: Always. Michael: I like the analogy. So tell me how
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you got to GoDaddy. I read that you were
in semi-retirement, which I’m not clear
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the difference between retirement and
semi-retirement, but you had done
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well, you were at Microsoft in the early days,
then you were at Yahoo, and you were kind of kicking
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back a little bit, and something about
GoDaddy, I suspect, got you back into the
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game. What was it?
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Blake: I, you know… So I had Hunter send me a
document about the company. I know I was
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[00:06:07.24]
about to pull the trigger on another
role in Silicon Valley, more traditional
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[00:06:12.14]
Silicon Valley job, and had been a
customer of GoDaddy’s for the better part of five
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years, maybe seven years, and had 49
domains under management, I think, and
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had done some things on top, and just
secured intellectual property and others,
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and had experience with the company… Michael: Were you a domain shark? Were you like buying and reselling
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domains, or…? Blake: Oh no, I’d never resold one.
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I buy them because I have an idea, and
this, I represent the customer, this is why it was
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so interesting to me. I represent the
customer that we serve, which was,  “I have
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an idea. I’m going to go reserve the
intellectual property on the idea,“ which usually a
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name.
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And I’m gonna get that name, and then I’m
gonna do something with it. And some people
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do, some people don’t, some people do it
once. A lot of guys that are in the
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technology business have quite a few
registered, because they’ve got a lot of
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ideas and want to reserve it. So I had done that
and had spent time talking with their
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customer care organization, which was
unlike any I’d ever spoken to in tech, they
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were just incredibly responsive, very
thoughtful and knowledgeable, and
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actually cared about what you’re doing. But I had seen the commercials
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too; I didn’t quite understand them, but I
knew that they were incredibly effective,
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and I’d been using the products for
awhile, knew that the products could be
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could be… could be better. And so I
went through this document that the guy sent
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me, after asking if I’d be interested, and  I said, “You know, I don’t know if I’d be
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interested. It doesn’t seem like
necessarily a company that’s perfect
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for what I’ve done with my career.” He goes,
“Well, just let me send this document and show it.”
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And what I found in the document was this
incredible market, this huge market of
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people that have ideas just like me, a
billion-dollar company with great cash
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flow, with NPS in the mid-sixties, Net
Promoter Score in the mid-sixties, brand
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recognition up in the eighties, with very
low, you know customer turnover, 85% customer
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retention rate… All these things that
just kind of blew my mind because
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they
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were not something that I would think. I
didn’t think the size of the
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company was going to be that large, I
didn’t think their loyalty in the
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customer base was going to be that
incredible, and I didn’t know that the
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economics of the company were great.
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Now Mike, they had done all of that in
the United States, and then never left
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the country. And then so, you know, in
looking at it, I just started thinking, my
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gosh, what could this be in a decade?
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You know, how fast could you get it there,
and who would you bring along to go make
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it happen? And I thought oh my gosh,
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so if we built a superflat platform, did it
on top of OpenStack, did it in a way
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where everything was API, every product
and company was using the other services
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that were built in the company, nobody
was building, I’ll call it “vertically
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stacked”, vertically stacked non-interfaceable products with each other, but
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we’re actually building a flat platform
and then we localize it, globalize it
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and took it into, you know, every
market that made sense in the US, and
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then open technology centers in places
where the best technologists are, like
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what could we… what could this look like?  I
started kind of thinking about it and
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got kind of excited, and then had some
conversations with the board, and,
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you know, told ’em what I thought I
would… you know, they asked me, “What you
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think you would want to do with the
company?” And I said this is what I… the
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opportunity I see, and what I think
we could probably do, and in fact, I’ve got a
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bunch of people that I think would be
really interested in doing just this. And
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then the comment, one of the comments from
the board members was, “Well, that’s good,
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because that’s kind of our investment
thesis. That’s what we think this could
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look like,” and so for the last… You know, I
ended up taking the job,
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contacted quite a few friends and folks
that work within the industry before doing
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so, and just kind of bounced the company
and what I have found off of them, and
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what I thought this place could be, and
they started getting excited, and so for
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the last three-and-a-half years, almost
four years now, we’ve been building out
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the platform, an OpenStack platform
that’s well API’ed, new econ stack, building
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[00:10:24.18]
out
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our localization, globalization, global
capabilities, opening offices where we
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need great technologists from and want to
have a presence in, and have done
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most of the things that, you know, we said
we were going to do. We’re not, you know, out…
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Frankly I have a bunch more I
want to do, but we are now in 56
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markets in 29 languages around the
world. We have offices in Seattle and
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Sunnyvale, in San Francisco and LA, and
Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as
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existing offices we have in Iowa, and in
Arizona, and have just been growing the
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company. We’ve been growing it fifteen percent
per year. We’ve gone public, which is another
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thing I wanted to get done.
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And so we’ve grown from about a
billion dollars, we’ll be around two
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billion, you know, I think, in bookings this year. So that’s pretty cool. Michael: That’s amazing progress. Blake: It’s been super fun
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and I’m tellin’ ya, great group of people
we have working here, we’re all pretty
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[00:11:24.15]
pumped about what we think the company
can be, and how we can, you know, help shift
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[00:11:29.15]
the global economy towards small
business by helping people
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[00:11:34.02]
get their ideas online. Michael: So the company is
headquartered in Scottsdale, is that
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[00:11:38.25]
right?
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Blake: It is. That’s right. That’s where i am right
now. Michael: Yeah, and I’m just curious, what’s the
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[00:11:43.21]
tech and startup scene like in
Scottsdale, and have you ever felt the
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[00:11:46.28]
need to potentially move the company to
Silicon Valley, which, by the way, is a
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[00:11:50.27]
question I get asked all the time being
a tech entrepreneur in LA and not being
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[00:11:55.08]
up north? Blake: Really? You know, it’s interesting
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[00:11:59.29]
the tech community in Phoenix is actually
pretty strong. There’s a lot of folks that are
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[00:12:02.26]
coming into Phoenix because the economics
of the area are easier than they
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[00:12:07.28]
are in the Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley,
you know, you’re in the LA
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[00:12:12.04]
area, so you know it’s quite different.
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[00:12:14.24]
Silicon Valley is an incredibly expensive
place to hire people, and to some
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[00:12:19.27]
degree, and I’ve talked to other CEOs
about this and they express the same
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[00:12:26.17]
thing, to some degree, it’s, you know, it’s hard to find
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[00:12:30.16]
loyalty in the Valley, because I think
people tend to… I used to call it “they don’t own, they
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rent.” They go into a company for a
few years, have an experience, don’t have
[00:12:39.13]

[00:12:39.13]
to move houses, don’t have to uproot their kids
from school, and then go work for somebody
[00:12:42.11]

[00:12:42.11]
else. And it’s a pretty rough place
to compete for talent, even though I love
[00:12:48.01]

[00:12:48.01]
having presence there, and know so many
people there, that it makes sense to be
[00:12:51.13]

[00:12:51.13]
there, and we’re happy there, but it’s
also quite a challenge, and so I
[00:12:57.23]

[00:12:57.23]
think for folks that are saying, “Hey,
you gotta move. Michael, move your company, you know,
[00:13:02.25]

[00:13:02.25]
you’d be better off in the Bay Area,” you
have, you know, the whole Santa Monica
[00:13:07.06]

[00:13:07.06]
area, there’s a lot of great talent, and
whether it’s Pasadena or Glendale or the
[00:13:12.17]

[00:13:12.17]
South Bay, there’s a lot of really good
people there who would rather stay there, you
[00:13:17.08]

[00:13:17.08]
know, and then the reason I’ve gone into
Silicon Valley, and Seattle, or LA, and San
[00:13:23.04]

[00:13:23.04]
Francisco, and Cambridge is because
people like it there. They want
[00:13:27.07]

[00:13:27.07]
to work on a quest that is noble,
and something that’s fun, with people who
[00:13:32.14]

[00:13:32.14]
are great to work with.
[00:13:33.20]

[00:13:33.20]
So you have to be there, but at the same
time, I don’t have to move my headquarters to
[00:13:38.08]

[00:13:38.08]
do that. We, like you and I are talking on
Skype right now, we could be talking on
[00:13:42.13]

[00:13:42.13]
Zoom, we could be using Google Hangouts,
there’s a bunch of
[00:13:46.07]

[00:13:46.07]
different products you can use to have
teams virtually scattered all over the
[00:13:51.16]

[00:13:51.16]
planet. If you think about Matt Mullenweg’s
company, the WordPress guys, they’re
[00:13:56.24]

[00:13:56.24]
everywhere, like they… Michael: I actually
went to their office, which they shared
[00:14:01.09]

[00:14:01.09]
space with True Ventures, I don’t know if
they still do, and we walked in… It was
[00:14:05.19]

[00:14:05.19]
like two or three in the afternoon, and
it was completely empty. It was a beautiful
[00:14:09.14]

[00:14:09.14]
office with a couch and a view of the
Bay, it was gorgeous.
[00:14:13.00]

[00:14:13.00]
And there was no one there, and I turned to Tony,
and I said, “Are they on a field trip or
[00:14:18.11]

[00:14:18.11]
something?” and he’s like, “No it’s a
virtual company.” They have people
[00:14:21.15]

[00:14:21.15]
absolutely everywhere. It was amazing.
[00:14:23.03]

[00:14:23.03]
Blake: Yeah well, you can, you can do a lot of
that. We, I mean with all the offices, we
[00:14:26.14]

[00:14:26.14]
still have great communications, we use
video conferencing a ton. We have things
[00:14:31.29]

[00:14:31.29]
called wormholes, where we actually put a
camera and a monitor at the end of a
[00:14:36.18]

[00:14:36.18]
hallway or the end of like a row of
cubes that attaches itself to another
[00:14:41.15]

[00:14:41.15]
hallway with a row of cubes in another
[00:14:43.00]

[00:14:43.00]
office, and people can sit there and just, “Hey John,
you know, what do you think about this? I
[00:14:47.07]

[00:14:47.07]
have a question for you.” Michael: Peer through the wall.
Blake: Yeah, basically, yeah. Michael: That’s cool, so
[00:14:53.02]

[00:14:53.02]
you mentioned GoDaddy’s ads, and the ads,
to me, are fascinating because some
[00:14:58.27]

[00:14:58.27]
of the ads before your time have been called
overly sexual, and yet massively
[00:15:03.05]

[00:15:03.05]
effective, right? Like Godaddy, I think
[00:15:05.06]

[00:15:05.06]
what I read had an 80% brand
recognition in American households which
[00:15:08.29]

[00:15:08.29]
is unbelievably high, for a company of
GoDaddy’s size, so I guess the question I
[00:15:14.05]

[00:15:14.05]
want to ask you is…  A. do you feel the ads
were almost like a necessary evil at the
[00:15:18.17]

[00:15:18.17]
time to get the publicity, and then when
you wanted to go public, and you were
[00:15:22.29]

[00:15:22.29]
maturing kind of change course? Or how do you
view that, how do you reconcile that? Blake: Yeah, well,
[00:15:27.19]

[00:15:27.19]
I think…what…  I think you said it right, I mean, at least part of those ads were
[00:15:32.05]

[00:15:32.05]
incredibly effective, right? To have
eighty percent brand recognition, for a
[00:15:37.04]

[00:15:37.04]
company of GoDaddy’s size, when you look
at Apple, in around ’90, you know to be
[00:15:41.07]

[00:15:41.07]
only 10 points behind that, that’s
pretty amazing. So I am
[00:15:47.16]

[00:15:47.16]
absolutely sure that without the… some of the work,
without the work that Bob Parsons, the founder
[00:15:53.06]

[00:15:53.06]
had done, and without taking the risk of,
you know, doing those ads, you know, it did… We
[00:15:58.05]

[00:15:58.05]
wouldn’t be in the same place we are now.
You know, he was…. he went a place nobody
[00:16:03.02]

[00:16:03.02]
else would go.
[00:16:03.26]

[00:16:03.26]
It was bold as all get out, and that’s who the
guy is, very funny guy, got a big sense
[00:16:09.09]

[00:16:09.09]
of humor, and frankly said, you
know, this is going to work.
[00:16:12.09]

[00:16:12.24]
I’m gonna do a Super Bowl ad. What do I
know about the Super Bowl, they’re mostly
[00:16:15.20]

[00:16:15.20]
guys, they’re mostly drinking, and this is
going to get their attention, and Bob has
[00:16:20.04]

[00:16:20.04]
told me once that, you know, domains
honestly are about as, if you’re trying to
[00:16:25.08]

[00:16:25.08]
explain it to somebody, that’s about as
interesting as wet cardboard, and so if
[00:16:29.16]

[00:16:29.16]
you can make something that’s kind of
funny and humorous and gets
[00:16:34.08]

[00:16:34.08]
people’s attention, and, you know, in a way
that’s shocking,
[00:16:37.19]

[00:16:37.19]
you’re going to get known, and he used
that formula over and over again and
[00:16:41.17]

[00:16:41.17]
built a big brand. And my role
coming into the company was to
[00:16:47.24]

[00:16:47.24]
take the company, grow the company, be
able to take the company public, and to
[00:16:52.26]

[00:16:52.26]
to build on top of all those things he’s
done and in…
[00:16:56.05]

[00:16:56.05]
What we did was, we tried to change that
narrative so it was about small
[00:17:01.17]

[00:17:01.17]
businesses, what they did, what we do for
them, and try to do it in a way— and who
[00:17:06.25]

[00:17:06.25]
we are— and try to do it in a way that
was, you know, humorous and a little edgy,
[00:17:11.19]

[00:17:11.19]
and what we’re trying to do is,
people would tell you, “Gosh, of course I
[00:17:16.29]

[00:17:16.29]
know GoDaddy. What is it that you guys
do again?” So we were trying to get to the
[00:17:22.07]

[00:17:22.07]
person that knows the brand, but doesn’t
know what we do. Most folks, when
[00:17:29.01]

[00:17:29.01]
they knew that they wanted a
the domain, boom, GoDaddy was the name in
[00:17:32.10]

[00:17:32.10]
their head. They didn’t have any others. Network
Solutions is not a super catchy, catchy
[00:17:38.14]

[00:17:38.14]
name. Michael: By the way, where did the name come
from, GoDaddy? Blake: Well, it’s like a lot of
[00:17:43.26]

[00:17:43.26]
small businesses today, when small
businesses are trying to figure out what
[00:17:47.14]

[00:17:47.14]
they’re going to name their company they’ll
go up online to see if the URL’s available, and
[00:17:53.11]

[00:17:53.11]
so Bob and our CMO, Barb Rechterman, was…
Michael: What year was this? Blake: This is ’97, so this
[00:18:02.15]

[00:18:02.15]
is 19 years ago, right? And they’re up searching
around, looking for… Bob’s, you know,
[00:18:07.12]

[00:18:07.12]
again a super funny guy, a super funny guy, he’s like, “Okay, let’s call it FatDaddy. Cuz you know, I’m not in
[00:18:12.22]

[00:18:12.22]
great shape. We’ll call it Fat Daddy. Nah it’s
already taken already.
[00:18:15.26]

[00:18:15.26]
How about Big Daddy? Okay, no, that’s taken
already. What about GoDaddy?” And so they
[00:18:22.24]

[00:18:22.24]
picked GoDaddy. They came in and announced,
Barb and he came in and announced it tothe
[00:18:25.25]

[00:18:25.25]
company the next morning, okay and the
name of the company was Jomax
[00:18:29.28]

[00:18:29.28]
Technologies, which is a road in Scottsdale,
and he said, “Okay, we’ve changed the name
[00:18:34.17]

[00:18:34.17]
of the company from Jomax Technologies to GoDaddy,”
and, you know, the people in the office
[00:18:39.16]

[00:18:39.16]
looked at him like, “What are you, kidding me? Is that a joke?” You
know, kind of, but no it’s not a joke,
[00:18:45.02]

[00:18:45.02]
that’s we’re going to call the company.“
It’s pretty funny. Michael: It is pretty funny. That’s a great
[00:18:49.02]

[00:18:49.02]
story.
[00:18:49.28]

[00:18:49.28]
What’s your relationship like with
Bob Parsons today? Is he still active in the
[00:18:54.10]

[00:18:54.10]
company, do you call him and seek advice,
is he chairman? Blake: You know, I do. You know
[00:18:58.25]

[00:18:58.25]
he’s not the chairman, he is a board
member, but I do talk to Bob quite often,
[00:19:03.19]

[00:19:03.19]
more often than the other board members.
[00:19:05.28]

[00:19:05.28]
The guy has incredible insight into
what we do, he is actually a great marketer. He
[00:19:11.11]

[00:19:11.11]
is not active in the company, he’s
got like so much other stuff going on,
[00:19:16.18]

[00:19:16.18]
he’s running a golf equipment
company now called PXG (Parsons Extreme
[00:19:22.01]

[00:19:22.01]
Golf) who have signed a ton of really
top-notch of PGA Tour players including
[00:19:27.26]

[00:19:27.26]
Zach Johnson, Chris Kirk, Rocco Mediate,
that’s just the PGA and Senior
[00:19:34.06]

[00:19:34.06]
PGA Tour and the clubs, I’m playing them,
are insanely good
[00:19:37.18]

[00:19:38.06]
and have gotten me about a club and a
half longer than what I was hitting
[00:19:43.00]

[00:19:43.00]
before, so you know, he’s the kind of guy
that will experiment, will be using his mind
[00:19:48.13]

[00:19:48.13]
very creatively, will take a very
different approach than traditional
[00:19:51.28]

[00:19:51.28]
companies that are in that business and
have a success on his
[00:19:55.11]

[00:19:55.11]
hands, and he’s doing really really well
with it. Michael: What’s it like being a public
[00:20:01.06]

[00:20:01.06]
company CEO? I don’t think you had done
that before in your career. What are the
[00:20:05.10]

[00:20:05.10]
most surprising things about it?
[00:20:07.20]

[00:20:07.20]
Blake: So the… nothing’s surprising, I
wouldn’t say it’s surprising, I would say
[00:20:14.29]

[00:20:14.29]
that a couple things happened that were
benefits of taking the company public.
[00:20:20.11]

[00:20:20.11]
The brand became recognized. You know,
when you are a public company, people
[00:20:24.12]

[00:20:24.12]
know exactly how big you are and how
fast you’re growing because— and they
[00:20:27.24]

[00:20:27.24]
understand the metrics, because the metrics
are governed by the SEC, so they know
[00:20:31.29]

[00:20:31.29]
that that stuff’s all real.
[00:20:34.03]

[00:20:34.03]
We had been running the company like it
was public, you know, basically since I
[00:20:37.11]

[00:20:37.11]
got here, so we were, you know, trying to
get a rhythm of business with quarterly board
[00:20:41.14]

[00:20:41.14]
meetings, with some cases, even
readouts of what the results were, and had
[00:20:48.11]

[00:20:48.11]
been thinking about it for quite some
time, so from my perspective, not a whole
[00:20:53.23]

[00:20:53.23]
lot of difference, because the cadence
and the rhythm of the business we have
[00:20:57.01]

[00:20:57.01]
developed was pretty public. Now there
are some things that are different, like
[00:21:00.26]

[00:21:00.26]
I announced that we… Marta Nichols who’s
our head of IR, who is absolutely
[00:21:05.27]

[00:21:05.27]
fantastic, runs a very good process when
we commit to a date, we’ve committed to
[00:21:11.10]

[00:21:11.10]
the date, and you don’t move it, and we try
to do that for the entire year, and then try
[00:21:14.16]

[00:21:14.16]
to do for the next year, so my schedule
has become a lot less flexible
[00:21:18.26]

[00:21:18.26]
and movable, as have all of hours. But it has been good discipline, I
[00:21:25.08]

[00:21:25.08]
think, for us to measure in a way that
can be compared to other companies, and
[00:21:30.09]

[00:21:30.09]
it’s been really interesting. The most…
probably the biggest change is what I can say
[00:21:39.05]

[00:21:39.05]
to the company and what I can’t, cause you
know, I’d love to report, you know, what
[00:21:42.13]

[00:21:42.13]
our month looked like
to employees, and we can’t do that any longer.
[00:21:46.28]

[00:21:46.28]
We have to be, when we do our
quarterly town hall or all hands meeting,
[00:21:52.19]

[00:21:52.19]
we do that after we’ve announced on the
street, because we can’t really… you’d make
[00:21:57.29]

[00:21:57.29]
everybody in the entire company an
insider if you told ’em what was happening,
[00:22:01.24]

[00:22:01.24]
so we have to actually do that after the
fact. Michael: That must be frustrating. I’m
[00:22:05.16]

[00:22:05.16]
sure there’s stuff you want to tell them.
[00:22:07.06]

[00:22:07.06]
Blake: Yeah, it’s true but that
is probably my most frustrating part
[00:22:12.25]

[00:22:12.25]
of it, and it’s honestly, it’s not
frustrating, it’s just the way, that
[00:22:16.20]

[00:22:16.20]
it works, and I’ve been in companies that
were exactly like that, you know, some
[00:22:20.20]

[00:22:20.20]
small, some big, where you have to be
cautious on how you disclose to be
[00:22:26.24]

[00:22:26.24]
thoughtful about it, so it’s not that big a deal.
[00:22:30.02]

[00:22:30.02]
Michael: So I also read that you were super
impressed, when you were considering the
[00:22:34.22]

[00:22:34.22]
role, about the loyalty that GoDaddy
customers displayed, and is that correct
[00:22:41.00]

[00:22:41.00]
by the way? Blake: That’s true. Michael: okay I’m curious
what you think drives that loyalty. I
[00:22:46.19]

[00:22:46.19]
mean, how do you get people to sort of
fall in love with the brand versus just
[00:22:50.06]

[00:22:50.06]
know about it?
[00:22:51.10]

[00:22:51.10]
Blake: Yeah, so that’s a really good question,
and it actually plays into
[00:22:57.21]

[00:22:57.21]
your service
[00:23:00.02]

[00:23:00.02]
angle on this call, that the GoDaddy
service mentality is quite different
[00:23:07.03]

[00:23:07.03]
than other software companies, who view
service as a cost and as a support. We just
[00:23:12.09]

[00:23:12.09]
support people, they call up, we try to
get them off- solve their problem, try to get ’em off the phone,
[00:23:15.26]

[00:23:15.26]
have ’em reference a FAQ, go read the
FAQ, that will solve your problem. We do,
[00:23:19.28]

[00:23:19.28]
we have a very different methodology
that we use. We try to consult with
[00:23:25.18]

[00:23:25.18]
customers, we ask them where they are
in their life cycle,
[00:23:28.02]

[00:23:28.02]
ask ’em and, you know what, and we actually
segment our customer psychographically, we
[00:23:32.13]

[00:23:32.13]
not, you know, lawyer, restaurant,
[00:23:35.25]

[00:23:36.18]
hotel, etcetera, we actually think about:
you’re nascent, you’re small and hungry,
[00:23:42.06]

[00:23:42.06]
you’re up and running and dreaming big,
you’re established and content, or you’re an
[00:23:45.23]

[00:23:45.23]
e-commerce guy, and if we know where you
are in your
[00:23:50.11]

[00:23:50.11]
lifecycle, we can give you advice on what
you should be doing next,
[00:23:53.14]

[00:23:53.14]
and while we’re doing that, we can give
you more confidence
[00:23:56.14]

[00:23:56.29]
and tell you what the next thing is that
you should do or you should buy from us,
[00:24:00.14]

[00:24:00.14]
and so we end up with a very stable
cohort, where, you know, 85% of
[00:24:05.21]

[00:24:05.21]
our customers stay with us, and after the
first year, which is where most
[00:24:10.17]

[00:24:10.17]
attrition happens, they stay with us, they’re with
us for a couple years, they’re with us forever,
[00:24:13.24]

[00:24:13.24]
because they know they can call us, they
can get their questions answered, they
[00:24:18.10]

[00:24:18.10]
can talk to a real person who really
wants to talk to them,
[00:24:21.11]

[00:24:21.11]
and not try to get them off the phone
and be able to service them in a way
[00:24:27.12]

[00:24:27.12]
that’s superhuman, so if you think of us as
being a technology company with a very
[00:24:31.29]

[00:24:31.29]
human touch, that builds better loyalty
than being a technology company that
[00:24:37.06]

[00:24:37.06]
didn’t know that you know there’s got to be
people working there somewhere, but you never
[00:24:42.05]

[00:24:42.05]
get to see ’em, you know, and I’ve had
customers tell me, “Man, I’ve tried to
[00:24:46.05]

[00:24:46.05]
call google. No, no way.” Michael: I don’t even think
Google has a main phone number that’s
[00:24:50.14]

[00:24:50.14]
published. You gotta work.
[00:24:52.20]

[00:24:52.20]
Blake: I don’t know, man, yeah. Michael: I’ve heard you
view your customer service team as a
[00:24:58.18]

[00:24:58.18]
secret weapon. Blake: It’s true.
[00:24:59.22]

[00:24:59.22]
And I also read that they account for up
to 25% of your revenue.
[00:25:04.11]

[00:25:04.11]
Blake: Yeah, that’s right.
[00:25:06.19]

[00:25:06.19]
Michael: Which is incredible, and
it’s interesting because you guys are
[00:25:11.03]

[00:25:11.03]
serving small businesses, which
historically are a category that are
[00:25:14.25]

[00:25:14.25]
expensive to reach, they don’t spend that
much money,
[00:25:17.25]

[00:25:18.17]
there’s all sorts of reasons why, if I was
writing out of business plan, I might not
[00:25:22.08]

[00:25:22.08]
go after small businesses first because
it’s expensive. How do you reconcile
[00:25:27.21]

[00:25:27.21]
that? You got… you’re clearly spending a lot
of money on customer service, I’ve always…
[00:25:31.11]

[00:25:31.11]
I always think the best marketing is
great customer service, which you clearly
[00:25:34.17]

[00:25:34.17]
are doing at GoDaddy, but how do you
reconcile the cost of that compared to,
[00:25:38.29]

[00:25:38.29]
you know, my twenty dollar a year domain?
[00:25:41.25]

[00:25:41.25]
Blake: Yeah, well it’s interesting, so they… I’ll
give you a couple different
[00:25:47.01]

[00:25:47.01]
thoughts on this.
[00:25:48.24]

[00:25:48.24]
The marketing that we did early created
brand recognition to a pretty
[00:25:54.07]

[00:25:54.07]
extreme. Barb Rechterman, our CMO, is a
incredibly metrics driven marketer who
[00:26:00.24]

[00:26:00.24]
knows exactly how much money it costs to
acquire a customer, and we also know what
[00:26:04.29]

[00:26:04.29]
our lifetime value to the customer is
going to be, based on how long they stay
[00:26:07.28]

[00:26:07.28]
with us, so if you have low churn, and you
have low attrition, and you have low
[00:26:12.23]

[00:26:12.23]
acquisition costs, you can
make small business pencil pretty well.
[00:26:17.02]

[00:26:17.02]
Our lifetime value to cost of
acquisition is 10 X, 8 to 10 x, which is
[00:26:24.29]

[00:26:24.29]
crazy, and it’s a little bit different by
country, but overall around 8 to 10 x,
[00:26:29.00]

[00:26:29.00]
and those numbers in any business are
incredible.
[00:26:34.24]

[00:26:35.10]
You know, we’re running about 60 bucks in
terms of cost of acquisition. If you
[00:26:39.08]

[00:26:39.08]
think about Constant Contact as an
example, they’re about ten times that, they’re
[00:26:42.21]

[00:26:42.21]
about six hundred dollars. If you’re spending six hundred
[00:26:46.21]

[00:26:46.21]
dollars to acquire a customer, you have
to charge a lot more for your product be
[00:26:51.23]

[00:26:51.23]
able to make it pencil. When you’re
charging sixty dollars for a
[00:26:56.13]

[00:26:56.13]
customer
[00:26:58.03]

[00:26:58.03]
acquisition, every customer acquisition,
[00:27:01.06]

[00:27:01.06]
you don’t have to charge much, right? So
our average, you know, if I think our
[00:27:05.17]

[00:27:05.17]
average yearly spend is around a hundred
and twenty-five bucks, out of our base,
[00:27:10.09]

[00:27:10.09]
which is muy pequeno, if you are Google
or Microsoft. Man, that’s not a whole lot
[00:27:16.25]

[00:27:16.25]
of recurring spend, but there… it’s a
subscription business. They’re with us for
[00:27:21.14]

[00:27:21.14]
a long, long time.
[00:27:22.19]

[00:27:22.19]
Michael: So six months. In six months, you’ve
recouped your acquisition costs and then
[00:27:26.16]

[00:27:26.16]
you’re off to the races. Blake: Pretty much,
yeah, and then we’re….
[00:27:30.16]

[00:27:30.16]
That’s pretty, pretty handsome, now that-
the care organization, our customer care
[00:27:35.13]

[00:27:35.13]
organization is a profit center for us, so
they don’t just drive revenue, they drive
[00:27:39.28]

[00:27:39.28]
margin. So those guys operate that
entire business, and based on the sales
[00:27:45.21]

[00:27:45.21]
that they make inside the care center, they’re
profitable. Michael: But you’re still…
[00:27:49.27]

[00:27:49.27]
Blake: And then the other 75% is all web. Michael: That’s amazing, because you don’t
[00:27:55.00]

[00:27:55.00]
usually think of a customer care
representative as being a a profit
[00:27:58.26]

[00:27:58.26]
center, but you somehow have been
able to do that in a way that’s human,
[00:28:03.01]

[00:28:03.01]
that’s not a telemarketer or spammy or
or things that might be negatively
[00:28:09.14]

[00:28:09.14]
associated with a profit center. They’re somehow
building relationships and therefore
[00:28:13.23]

[00:28:13.23]
driving revenue. Blake: That’s right. We actually
have two… we have a series of things that
[00:28:18.03]

[00:28:18.03]
we measure the reps on, and how they’re commissioned, and how they’re paid. One is, of course, sales,
[00:28:23.20]

[00:28:23.20]
the other is where are their CSS scores, where’s
your customer satisfaction score, so if they
[00:28:28.15]

[00:28:28.15]
have a high CSS score and they’re doing
a good job selling, then they’re doing
[00:28:33.22]

[00:28:33.22]
a good job, right, and they’re making sure
the customers feel like they were taken
[00:28:37.04]

[00:28:37.04]
care of, and managing. And look, we’re not
going to get everyone right, but we’re
[00:28:41.13]

[00:28:41.13]
averaging like 8.9 out of
10 on our— Michael: That’s very high. Blake It’s
[00:28:47.28]

[00:28:47.28]
very high, and even when we
train new care centers, and we now have
[00:28:51.27]

[00:28:51.27]
care centers in Arizona, in
Iowa, and those two centers service Latin
[00:28:57.11]

[00:28:57.11]
America— well, I’ll just say the Americas and
the little English speaking markets like
[00:29:03.01]

[00:29:03.01]
Australia, UK, Canada, and then we have
a care center in India that covers all of
[00:29:09.11]

[00:29:09.11]
India. That’s in Hyderabad, but it’s only
for India,
[00:29:11.22]

[00:29:11.22]
and then we have a care center in Dalian,
China, that’s for our Asia group, and
[00:29:18.02]

[00:29:18.02]
then one in Belfast that is for Europe,
and those two: let’s use India and
[00:29:24.17]

[00:29:24.17]
Belfast, which are the ones we’ve had the
longest, they’re almost at the exact same
[00:29:29.07]

[00:29:29.07]
number, that 8.9 number, because the way
that we teach folks, the tools that we
[00:29:33.03]

[00:29:33.03]
use, the CRM system that’s our own,
my allows us to do it, so we end up
[00:29:39.13]

[00:29:39.13]
having very similar CSS scores, and, you
know, our average order size, our AOS, is about
[00:29:44.23]

[00:29:44.23]
the same.
[00:29:46.11]

[00:29:46.11]
Michael: That’s incredible. I want to talk about
SOPA for a minute. You came out
[00:29:51.13]

[00:29:51.13]
against GoDaddy’s former support
of SOPA, which, by the way, I
[00:29:55.09]

[00:29:55.09]
admire that you did that, and I’m
just curious what you think the balance
[00:29:59.04]

[00:29:59.04]
is between privacy and and reasonable
cases which technology companies should
[00:30:08.15]

[00:30:08.15]
assist the government. In other words, are
there any reasonable cases where it
[00:30:12.21]

[00:30:12.21]
makes sense for a tech company to
cooperate with the government agency, you
[00:30:15.22]

[00:30:15.22]
know, there was a terrorist attack or
something like that, or are you in
[00:30:18.08]

[00:30:18.08]
favor of end-to-end encryption and super
strong policy— privacy constraints?
[00:30:24.22]

[00:30:24.22]
Blake: Look, our
number-one obligation is the privacy of
[00:30:29.17]

[00:30:29.17]
our customers, that’s number one.
[00:30:31.20]

[00:30:31.20]
So, you know, the government can have a
whole bunch of different opinions on
[00:30:35.07]

[00:30:35.07]
what’s right and what’s wrong, but
if it’s not breaking the law,
[00:30:40.17]

[00:30:41.02]
you know, governments can overstep and
say, “Well, we think that’s not right.”
[00:30:45.12]

[00:30:45.12]
Well, if you think it’s breaking the law,
then you’re gonna issue a subpoena, and
[00:30:49.11]

[00:30:49.11]
move on that, but honestly,
if we get a subpoena from a government,
[00:30:55.02]

[00:30:55.02]
then, you know, we will review
the subpoena, honor the subpoena if we think
[00:31:00.05]

[00:31:00.05]
it’s right, but that’s
something that anybody in business has to
[00:31:05.15]

[00:31:05.15]
do, but boy, I tell you, man, the most
important thing I think that we can do
[00:31:11.19]

[00:31:11.19]
is keep our customers data private. It’s
their data,
[00:31:14.27]

[00:31:15.23]
their personal data, their website data,
that’s all theirs.
[00:31:18.23]

[00:31:19.13]
Michael: Does GoDaddy routinely get hit
up by the government for access the data
[00:31:24.12]

[00:31:24.12]
and stuff like that, just like any
hosting company?
[00:31:27.00]

[00:31:27.00]
Blake: Oh, if you are a SAS based company, and
you have customers on top of that SAS
[00:31:33.00]

[00:31:33.00]
backend, you are going
to get requests from the government for
[00:31:38.07]

[00:31:38.07]
information. That’s why having a
policy that is pro customer, pro
[00:31:43.12]

[00:31:43.12]
privacy, customers first, privacy first, is
extremely important.
[00:31:48.07]

[00:31:48.07]
Michael: Yep, makes sense. I wanted to talk to you about
culture. You know, you and I met at a
[00:31:54.04]

[00:31:54.04]
conference a few years ago, where you
just replied to a cold email I sent you
[00:31:59.01]

[00:31:59.01]
saying, “Hey, let’s grab a coffee. We’re at the
same conference,” and we wound up going on
[00:32:02.05]

[00:32:02.05]
a bike ride and doing some other fun
stuff.
[00:32:04.27]

[00:32:04.27]
And from what I’ve read, that same
kind of policy transfers to GoDaddy,
[00:32:09.26]

[00:32:09.26]
where you have an open-door policy, and
there’s a certain casualness and
[00:32:14.22]

[00:32:14.22]
approachability factor that I think
isn’t that common among public company
[00:32:19.06]

[00:32:19.06]
CEOs. I’m curious how important you
think that is to the success of GoDaddy, and
[00:32:25.20]

[00:32:25.20]
do you kind of go out of your way, do you
make yourself accessible to your
[00:32:28.26]

[00:32:28.26]
employees?
[00:32:29.19]

[00:32:29.19]
Kinda talk about that. Blak: Yeah, I mean I do.
I think Bob did the same thing. You know, Bob had a… he tried
[00:32:36.12]

[00:32:36.12]
to create a company that was fun, that was
energetic. I think people will do their
[00:32:41.20]

[00:32:41.20]
best work when they’re having fun, and
they feel like they can express
[00:32:44.08]

[00:32:44.08]
themselves, so I’m very in favor of
letting people be exactly who they are
[00:32:49.16]

[00:32:49.16]
when they’re in the office, and if that
means, you know, you wear shorts
[00:32:53.05]

[00:32:53.05]
every day, you know, don’t wear long pants, or you wear
flip-flops, and you wanna have a
[00:32:58.04]

[00:32:58.04]
conversation with anybody, including me,
then that oughta be the way the
[00:33:02.07]

[00:33:02.07]
company’s run, and I actually, you
know, “live passionately” is one of our
[00:33:06.18]

[00:33:06.18]
values at the company, and I actually
believe that you, the CEO, you have to set that
[00:33:11.20]

[00:33:11.20]
example, and for me, you can see I got a balance board in the back of my office over here
[00:33:16.18]

[00:33:16.18]
they take phone calls on, where I can, you
know, get a little bit of a core and quad
[00:33:21.01]

[00:33:21.01]
workout while I’m doing a conference call. I have a drum
set over in the corner, and and tell
[00:33:26.01]

[00:33:26.01]
people… Look, you know, your life…
[00:33:28.29]

[00:33:28.29]
You think about life generally, the
people who work hard and and love their
[00:33:33.05]

[00:33:33.05]
job and also love their family,
quite often your job will invade your
[00:33:38.02]

[00:33:38.02]
home life without a whole lot of
consideration, and because you love your
[00:33:42.28]

[00:33:42.28]
job, you work hard, you’ll let that come
in. So I’m actually in favor of saying like, well
[00:33:47.25]

[00:33:47.25]
bring some of your life in. Like if your
work is going to go interrupt your life,
[00:33:51.22]

[00:33:51.22]
and you’re gonna make that okay, and you’re
going to explain your wife, or your kids,
[00:33:55.17]

[00:33:55.17]
that, “Hey, I’ve got to get on a conference
call real quick. I’ll be back in an hour,”
[00:33:58.10]

[00:33:58.10]
then make the other true as well. Let
some of your life come into the office,
[00:34:02.21]

[00:34:02.21]
so I’ve been a proponent of
that for really forever, and whether I was
[00:34:10.09]

[00:34:10.09]
at Microsoft, whether I was at
Yahoo, or here, so that’s very much
[00:34:14.19]

[00:34:15.19]
the way I think the company should
be running. I think one of the reasons I’m in
[00:34:19.07]

[00:34:19.07]
this job is because culturally, that was
a fit for them,
[00:34:23.15]

[00:34:23.15]
and it feels right. I mean, I’m the
same guy pretty much at home that I am
[00:34:30.06]

[00:34:30.06]
in the office,
[00:34:31.14]

[00:34:31.14]
you know, all the way down to… if it
gets hot, and I’m Scottsdale right now so
[00:34:35.29]

[00:34:35.29]
it’s hot, and I’m wearing shorts.
Michael: It makes total sense, and I
[00:34:41.03]

[00:34:41.03]
think that a lot of CEOs really make a
mistake of kind of putting up this
[00:34:45.16]

[00:34:45.16]
veneer, and as a result they’re not
approachable, and you know, they’re also
[00:34:49.22]

[00:34:49.22]
not themselves, so it’s awesome to see
the reversal of that. So you’ve also
[00:34:55.10]

[00:34:55.10]
been a champion for equal pay for women.
[00:34:58.07]

[00:34:58.07]
You’ve taken a public stance on this,
you publicly share stats on it,
[00:35:03.03]

[00:35:03.03]
you sponsor students to attend the
Grace Hopper conference,
[00:35:06.03]

[00:35:06.24]
why is that important to you, and why
don’t more public company CEOs take a
[00:35:11.17]

[00:35:11.17]
stand?
[00:35:12.12]

[00:35:12.12]
Blake: I think more company… more public
company CEOs are starting to take a
[00:35:18.14]

[00:35:18.14]
stand. I’ve always believed that
diverse workforces produce better
[00:35:22.23]

[00:35:22.23]
products. I’ve also believed, you know,
you’d have to be blind not to see that
[00:35:29.20]

[00:35:29.20]
women and minorities have been under represented
in the tech field for the 30 years I’ve been in it.
[00:35:34.22]

[00:35:34.22]
Michael: Just go to a tech conference and you’ll look around and know that.
[00:35:39.20]

[00:35:39.20]
Blake: Any conference except the Grace Hopper
conference. Michael: Yes. Blake: It’s pretty clear
[00:35:44.12]

[00:35:44.12]
where the ratios are and where the
numbers fall and, you know, women are just
[00:35:49.12]

[00:35:49.12]
as smart as guys are, they’re just as
inclined for mathematics as
[00:35:55.21]

[00:35:55.21]
anyone, right? There is no gender bias in
mathematic or scientific aptitude.
[00:35:59.08]

[00:36:00.06]
So what can we do to try to improve the
market for women in tech, which will
[00:36:07.11]

[00:36:07.11]
help build companies. It’s a
hard problem because it starts in, you
[00:36:12.29]

[00:36:12.29]
know, in elementary school, and you know
Hadi Partovi can talk to you about this
[00:36:16.29]

[00:36:16.29]
in spades, but starts an elementary school,
goes up to junior high and high school,
[00:36:20.24]

[00:36:20.24]
and fewer and fewer women
matriculate out of tech, and
[00:36:25.24]

[00:36:25.24]
computer science, and hard sciences. They may
go into
[00:36:27.24]

[00:36:27.24]
biology or chemistry, but they stay
away from
[00:36:30.27]

[00:36:30.27]
some of the engineering disciplines,
which are incredibly creative, I
[00:36:34.24]

[00:36:34.24]
believe, especially computer science
where you have just a ton of potential
[00:36:39.10]

[00:36:39.10]
solutions to any one problem, so the
creativity is huge there. So I am
[00:36:47.24]

[00:36:47.24]
passionate about it, I have been for a
long time. My sister passed away about 15
[00:36:51.08]

[00:36:51.08]
years ago, and she was a very large
proponent of equality for women, and
[00:37:01.02]

[00:37:01.02]
she passed away kind of tragically, and
she was in fact one of the leading (
[00:37:06.27]

[00:37:06.27]
certainly in the US) one of the leading
authorities on the effect of media on
[00:37:15.05]

[00:37:15.05]
women and self-esteem and body image, and
she pushed really hard to solve that and
[00:37:21.10]

[00:37:21.10]
was in fact an anorexic and bulimic
herself growing up
[00:37:24.23]

[00:37:24.23]
and was trying to do as much as she
could, and when she passed, my promise to
[00:37:29.22]

[00:37:29.22]
her was that I’d do everything I could in
my chosen field to advance women. I
[00:37:35.17]

[00:37:35.17]
didn’t know what that meant at time or what I’d be able to do, but I’ve been able
[00:37:40.05]

[00:37:40.05]
to at least move, I think, move the
ball a little bit, certainly at my
[00:37:45.22]

[00:37:45.22]
company, and by making some of the
things that we’ve been doing here at
[00:37:49.17]

[00:37:49.17]
GoDaddy public, I think it creates an
environment or at least a situation
[00:37:56.23]

[00:37:56.23]
where there’s got to be a response. So
when we published our salary data by
[00:38:02.09]

[00:38:02.09]
level for engineers and found out where
we were from a parity perspective and did
[00:38:07.02]

[00:38:07.02]
some, did a lot of research, and started
spending time with the Clayman
[00:38:10.10]

[00:38:10.10]
Institute to improve the way our
language is used in job requisitions, and
[00:38:14.25]

[00:38:14.25]
applications, and performance reviews,
like promotion documents we started
[00:38:23.07]

[00:38:23.07]
changing the language to make sure that
we didn’t have bias built into it,
[00:38:25.20]

[00:38:25.20]
because we’re all biased, every one of us, anybody who says they’re not is likely more
[00:38:30.12]

[00:38:30.12]
biased than somebody who’s aware they
are, so I think it was a
[00:38:36.00]

[00:38:36.00]
really good opportunity to be able to do
something to kinda
[00:38:38.19]

[00:38:38.19]
level the playing field, and at least do
something that can help… Michael: And where are you at today?
[00:38:44.20]

[00:38:44.20]
Is the playing field leveled completely… Blake: Oh hell no. Michael: Is it
more leveled at GoDaddy?
[00:38:48.00]

[00:38:48.16]
Blake: Well it’s gotten better, so
our numbers are moving. Again, you know,
[00:38:52.27]

[00:38:52.27]
this is gonna be a couple decades
solution, right, when you have numbers
[00:38:56.20]

[00:38:56.20]
that are as big as we’re talking about,
we’ve got half a million open jobs for
[00:39:00.29]

[00:39:00.29]
computer scientists right now in the
States.
[00:39:03.22]

[00:39:03.22]
It takes a long time to change the
number dramatically
[00:39:10.26]

[00:39:10.26]
so it’s going to be a very slow move.
You know, our populations only change
[00:39:16.14]

[00:39:16.14]
one or two percent, but, you know,
encouraging as our new college grad
[00:39:20.07]

[00:39:20.07]
computer science at entrance, we were
fifty percent women. For our new interns,
[00:39:25.16]

[00:39:25.16]
this year’s interns, were thirty-seven
percent women so we’re seeing movement,
[00:39:29.23]

[00:39:29.23]
and you just kind of keep doing the
right thing, and just keep trying to
[00:39:34.23]

[00:39:34.23]
create an environment that’s great. I
think put yourself out there,
[00:39:38.22]

[00:39:38.22]
and frankly, that was one of the things I
thought I could do to help solve it ,
[00:39:42.13]

[00:39:42.13]
put myself out there in a way
that was demonstrative that other folks
[00:39:46.29]

[00:39:46.29]
that are CEOs and other companies would
be willing to do too. Michael: Yep. I
[00:39:51.27]

[00:39:51.27]
want to selfishly ask you a customer
service question, given the line of work that
[00:39:55.11]

[00:39:55.11]
Service is in, and ask you about bots and
the idea of using bots for customer
[00:40:01.22]

[00:40:01.22]
service.
[00:40:02.21]

[00:40:02.21]
You just told me a little while ago
that customer care accounts for
[00:40:07.01]

[00:40:07.01]
twenty-five percent of revenue, and that
relationship is so important.
[00:40:10.08]

[00:40:10.08]
What do you think the role is, if any, of
a bot for the future of customer service
[00:40:15.16]

[00:40:15.16]
both at GoDaddy and kind of in the world?
[00:40:18.17]

[00:40:18.17]
Blake:I think it could be good
[00:40:22.05]

[00:40:22.05]
actually, and if you can…  if you think about
the continuum of service that’s out there,
[00:40:25.28]

[00:40:25.28]
there’s FAQ, you know, just FAQs
that exist, there’s a chat, which can be
[00:40:32.01]

[00:40:32.01]
human assisted chat, and then there’s
real life support, and to think that
[00:40:36.27]

[00:40:36.27]
those are the three selection
points, that doesn’t really make
[00:40:42.05]

[00:40:42.05]
sense. I’ve got email, so that’s another
form where I can get, I can send a query
[00:40:47.03]

[00:40:47.03]
and get something back, that’s not a bot
but it’s somebody that’s gonna go through a corpus of data
[00:40:51.18]

[00:40:51.18]
and send you the most appropriate
response, and if you can actually
[00:40:54.20]

[00:40:54.20]
algorithmically tune a bot to have
the right answers when queried, it can
[00:41:02.13]

[00:41:02.13]
actually be quite healthy. Now that’s not a
personality. I think Alaska Airlines, I
[00:41:06.04]

[00:41:06.04]
think, has done a pretty good job with
their bot. Michael: Ask Jen? Blake: Yes, Jen. She’s very…
[00:41:11.01]

[00:41:11.01]
pretty darn good, I think.
[00:41:14.02]

[00:41:14.02]
Doesn’t give me all the answers I want,
sometimes I still, in frustration, call and
[00:41:17.10]

[00:41:17.10]
talk to somebody real, but I think
there’s a place for it. It’s not going to
[00:41:21.23]

[00:41:21.23]
ever replace human interaction, because I
think human interaction has
[00:41:27.29]

[00:41:27.29]
warmth associated with it, has humility, has
personality, has laughter, and those things
[00:41:33.18]

[00:41:33.18]
don’t come as readily, I think from, a bot.
Not to say that they can’t, as
[00:41:38.11]

[00:41:38.11]
technology gets better and better, it could
be there.
[00:41:42.19]

[00:41:42.19]
Michael: Yep. Blake: But I believe people matter a great deal.
[00:41:46.29]

[00:41:46.29]
Michael: What do you think about the landscape
today? Facebook is making a huge push
[00:41:50.14]

[00:41:50.14]
towards bots and trying to get brands to
build on top of messenger, you’ve got
[00:41:54.18]

[00:41:54.18]
Twitter that’s trying to be the customer…
it still is the de facto customer
[00:41:57.25]

[00:41:57.25]
service platform of choice. We see people
create Twitter accounts just so they can
[00:42:01.23]

[00:42:01.23]
complain to a company. Blake: I’ve seen that, for sure.
Michael: I guess, do you use any bots in your life
[00:42:07.05]

[00:42:07.05]
today, have you seen any bots that have
impressed you?
[00:42:10.13]

[00:42:10.13]
Blake: So I used Alaska Airlines as one that I thought was pretty good.
[00:42:16.18]

[00:42:17.09]
I haven’t seen anything that’s really blown my mind. I’ve seen some of the work that
[00:42:23.29]

[00:42:23.29]
Facebook’s been doing, so it’s
interesting. I think actually it could be
[00:42:27.16]

[00:42:27.16]
good for folks that are trying to build
brand and not trying…
[00:42:33.02]

[00:42:33.02]
trying to purport to be real human
interaction.
[00:42:36.07]

[00:42:36.07]
Michael: Yep. Blake: There’s some pretty interesting
things I think you can do around brand,
[00:42:39.09]

[00:42:39.09]
that could be bot oriented. For a
service experience, when somebody’s
[00:42:43.04]

[00:42:43.04]
really having trouble finding how to do
something, or get to the root of a
[00:42:48.25]

[00:42:48.25]
problem, I think there’s gotta be a continuum. To think that you could go from
[00:42:53.16]

[00:42:53.16]
from… for me, this is nirvana, where
you can go from FAQ,
[00:42:56.27]

[00:42:57.21]
to a bot, to a chat, to a real live person
and there’s a continuum of history
[00:43:05.15]

[00:43:05.15]
between all the things that you did
there, so you’re not… you don’t feel like
[00:43:08.25]

[00:43:08.25]
you’re being handed off to another
system, and you have to re-explain your
[00:43:12.12]

[00:43:12.12]
problem or re-explain what your issue
was initially. If you can get that level
[00:43:16.21]

[00:43:16.21]
of data that underlies all of those
platforms, and you know, quite honestly, I…
[00:43:21.07]

[00:43:21.07]
You know, people are a platform. You have
a bunch of technologies that sits
[00:43:25.24]

[00:43:25.24]
underneath every transaction and
interaction we have in our care
[00:43:30.15]

[00:43:30.15]
organization, and all that data is safe,
sowe know what happened next time
[00:43:35.13]

[00:43:35.13]
somebody calls in. We can ask them, “Hey,
well, so how did it go last time because
[00:43:39.13]

[00:43:39.13]
you know, I can see that we had an issue
with, you know, x last time you called in
[00:43:43.28]

[00:43:43.28]
and did that get solved to your
satisfaction?”
[00:43:46.22]

[00:43:46.22]
You know that same data exists in all
those other scenarios, so you could actually
[00:43:52.14]

[00:43:52.14]
have that conversation you had with
a real person be informative on how bot
[00:43:57.22]

[00:43:57.22]
actually treated you.
[00:43:58.29]

[00:43:58.29]
Michael: Yeah, and you’re basically saying just
connect all the channels, I mean i’m
[00:44:02.04]

[00:44:02.04]
amazed if I tweet at a company, if I tweet
them a week later, and they don’t know
[00:44:07.12]

[00:44:07.12]
who I am… It’s amazing to me how if I
tweet at them the first time, they didn’t
[00:44:11.08]

[00:44:11.08]
connect my twitter name to my account, so
they would know. It’s just kind of…
[00:44:15.12]

[00:44:15.12]
Blake: It’s pervasive. What you just described is the way the industry acts today.
[00:44:18.27]

[00:44:18.27]
Michael: Yeah. Blake: You don’t find that
continuum of the store, and forward to
[00:44:26.08]

[00:44:26.08]
real-time, to live, with, you know, slice
bots in there. You just
[00:44:31.16]

[00:44:31.16]
don’t find. Michael: Yep so my last question is… I
thought it was so interesting that I
[00:44:39.03]

[00:44:39.03]
kept reading that you were semi-retired,
which by the way I still don’t
[00:44:41.18]

[00:44:41.18]
understand what semi-retired means, the
semi… Blake:
[00:44:44.13]

[00:44:44.13]
I’ve never said that. Michael: Okay, so other people have said that. Blake: I’ve never said that.
[00:44:47.21]

[00:44:47.21]
Michael: Okay, but there was a period of time, what was it… eight months that you weren’t really…?
[00:44:50.24]

[00:44:50.24]
Blake: Well, I mean when I left Microsoft,
I left for three years and I traveled
[00:44:57.24]

[00:44:57.24]
around the world with my kids, my wife,
and I home schooled them for a year, and
[00:45:01.07]

[00:45:01.07]
just kept traveling. I recommend half
of that. The traveling part, the homeschooling part,
[00:45:06.24]

[00:45:06.24]
not so sure. We didn’t ruin them.
[00:45:09.06]

[00:45:09.06]
That’s the good news.
[00:45:10.13]

[00:45:10.13]
One’s graduating from UCSD right now, the
others at UW, so they’re fine. So that
[00:45:16.06]

[00:45:16.06]
was a three-year hiatus, so that was one year traveling, two years teaching at
[00:45:19.07]

[00:45:19.07]
Pepperdine which was  part-time, and
then I just kind of got restless and
[00:45:24.24]

[00:45:24.24]
wanted to go back to… Wanted to go back to
doing something that I felt had scale and
[00:45:29.03]

[00:45:29.03]
meaning. I took the chief product officer
job at Yahoo, which I thought was…
[00:45:34.11]

[00:45:34.11]
could potentially be a really great
publishing platform, had a huge amount of
[00:45:39.17]

[00:45:39.17]
customers.
[00:45:40.20]

[00:45:40.20]
So I did that, and then when I left Yahoo,
that was after a little bit of board
[00:45:45.11]

[00:45:45.11]
turmoil, and some of the things that were
going on there. I took… I did take nine
[00:45:49.24]

[00:45:49.24]
months off to spend it with my
oldest son before he went off to college,
[00:45:55.11]

[00:45:55.11]
to figure out what I actually wanted to
do. I wasn’t in a rush; we were finishing a
[00:46:02.05]

[00:46:02.05]
remodel and a couple other things, so I
was being pretty selective. I sent an
[00:46:06.26]

[00:46:06.26]
email out to a couple of friends in the
Valley, a couple of exec search guys,
[00:46:14.05]

[00:46:14.05]
and said,  “Okay, look I’m ready to go back to
work,“ and I had got a couple things
[00:46:17.17]

[00:46:17.17]
lobbed at me while I wasn’t ready to
take anything. So I guess that’s kind
[00:46:23.18]

[00:46:23.18]
of what… Michael: Do you think you’ll ever fully
retire, and what would you do with
[00:46:28.04]

[00:46:28.04]
yourself if you did? Blake: I don’t know. I’ve got a lot
of things I like to do. I mean
[00:46:35.02]

[00:46:35.02]
love golf, and playing those things,
and teachin’ was pretty fun. There’s a
[00:46:42.15]

[00:46:42.15]
whole bunch of things that I will, you
know, occupy myself with. Will I go back
[00:46:46.29]

[00:46:46.29]
and have an 80 hour a week job? I don’t know.
[00:46:51.08]

[00:46:52.17]
I think the future is always
informed by the past. Those that mostly
[00:46:59.26]

[00:46:59.26]
ignore it kind of tend to fail, so I
you know, I don’t know how… what
[00:47:05.06]

[00:47:05.06]
that looks like, so we will see.
It’s not a decision I’m making
[00:47:10.07]

[00:47:10.07]
any time soon, anyway, so it’s like a… Michael: Yep
Blake: I’m having an awful lot of
[00:47:14.24]

[00:47:14.24]
fun. I think it comes down to the idea…
are you working at something important,
[00:47:18.09]

[00:47:18.09]
you doing it with people you love, are you
having fun doing it? And you know, all
[00:47:22.28]

[00:47:22.28]
those things are thumbs up, and as long
as the board’s happy, the investors
[00:47:28.04]

[00:47:28.04]
are happy, and my wife will tolerate my
schedule, I’m good.
[00:47:31.15]

[00:47:32.20]
Michael: That’s a great way to end. I want to
thank you so much for joining me today,
[00:47:36.17]

[00:47:36.17]
and this has been another episode of
Please Hold.
[00:47:39.12]

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