SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. ( TheStreet) -- When people think about Go Daddy, it wouldn't be a surprise if the first reference was race car driver Danica Patrick. After all, the Web domain services company used the sexy advertisements with Indy -- and more recently Nascar -- "it girl" Patrick in an effort it to get customers interested in what is, frankly, an unsexy business. Yet after a 2011 investment from private equity firms KKR, Silver Lake and Technology Crossover Ventures, Go Daddy is looking to move away from its provocative advertising days and make its services the first reference of small business owners.
"We are all about making small businesses bigger," says Warren Adelman, CEO of Go Daddy. "We're enabling them with a variety of different services to build, launch
Go Daddy boasts that it has 10.4 million customers, three-quarters of which are small businesses, and has set up 53 million domain names.
The company offers IT or "web-presence" services, and the domain name is the "inception point" in Adelman's words, for creating a business online, web marketing tools, e-commerce functions, SEO and social media marketing assistance, among other things, including accounting.In its first acquisition, Go Daddy purchased cloud-based accounting software company Outright. Outright is used by more than 200,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs, who will now have access to Go Daddy's offerings. The Outright acquisition, which was completed last week, is the first in a wave of small business-centric M&A planned by Go Daddy. While the company won't disclose the total investment made by the private equity firms last year, Adelman was direct on the uses of the recent financing: expanding internationally and acquisitions. Go Daddy is attempting to capture more of the business owner's attention, bu the company has attracted the wrong kind of attention in the past, becoming embroiled in several controversies that resonate in the small business community. Go Daddy was criticized last year for its initial support of the controversial online piracy legislation in both the House and Senate. The company was also accused by competitor Namecheap for making the process to switch domain names incredibly difficult. Some users have also complained that Go Daddy's customer service is lacking and unhelpful. Nevertheless, Adelman stays on message in discussing small business. "We're obviously doing many things right," the Go Daddy CEO says in referencing the growth of the customer base to 10.4 million. "We want to be recognized as a small business company's enabler," Adelman continues. "We have a pretty broad array of services today and what you will see us do is spend more time thinking about how our customers interact with their customers -- how they generate traffic, how they develop leads, how they communicate with their customers...I think you will see an increased focus on marketing tools."