One of the best decisions for the executive chairman and founder of GoDaddy.com was signing up Danica Patrick.
Parsons, a former Marine who graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Baltimore with a degree in accounting, started GoDaddy.com in 1997. GoDaddy became a household name with its cutting-edge Super Bowl commercials in 2005.
The following year, the company started sponsoring the 24-year-old Patrick in her sophomore season of IndyCar Series competition and the partnership has grown together ever since. Last July, Parsons sold controlling interest of GoDaddy.com for a reported $2.25 billion to KKR, Silver Lake Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures.
On Sunday, FOXSports.com sat down for an exclusive interview with Parsons during his first trip to Daytona International Speedway.
FOXSPORTS.COM: You have to be pleased with the exposure that GoDaddy has received with Danica Patrick leading up to the Daytona 500. She’s been everywhere.
PARSONS: She has really made this a Danica event, which of course pleases us to no end. We’re thrilled to be associated with her. We’re excited for her. It exceeds our wildest expectations that were in place way back when. Now, going into this, I thought this might happen, but that’s with the knowledge that we have now. She has conducted herself well. She has proven that she can drive right with anybody. When she had that accident (in the Gatorade Duels on Thursday) and came back and qualified the next day for the (Nationwide Series) pole, (that) was incredible. Even the way she handled herself as (she) was revealed by the camera in the car with getting her hands up and handling the crash. She did exactly what she was supposed to do and she had an unfortunate event with a rookie (Cole Whitt) that was trying to help her yesterday. That was unfortunate. She’s back and who knows, she could win this thing.
FOXSPORTS.COM: What can you say about Danica’s drive and determination? Her peers have certainly noticed that quality in her.
PARSONS: I’ve seen that determination ever since I’ve known her. The determination I’ve seen as she raced in IndyCar when she won (at Twin Ring Motegi). It was that determination watching her lead the Indy 500 in 2005 that attracted us to her in the first place — back when she was a rookie with the Rahal-Letterman team. I’ve seen it as she does our commercials for us. She brings a lot of the creative herself (laughs). She’s really determined that it’s a good piece that she’s proud of. She comes into the set and takes charge. She’s a take charge (kind) of individual. She does it the right way. She definitely makes things better. If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it right. And that’s her.
FOXSPORTS.COM: How has she helped catapult the GoDaddy brand, especially to the NASCAR demographic?
PARSONS: To this demographic — our brand is across all demographics. We’re an international company now. When we signed Danica, we’re doing a few hundred million dollars in sales a year. This year we should do over 1.2 billion in sales. A lot of people, I’ll say, ‘Have you heard of GoDaddy?’ I travel across the country on a motorcycle and I spend a lot of time at gas stations on breaks fueling up and that sort of thing. I’ll just talk to people while I’m standing around and I’ll say, ‘Have you ever heard of a company called GoDaddy.com?’ Invariably they say, ’Danica Patrick.’ I was coming last night to dinner from the hotel and this was in Palm Beach and the driver he said, ’Do you have a driver in this event?’’ I said, ‘Danica Patrick.’ What he said to me was, ’Go Daddy go.’
So we’re very much tied to each other. Both of us have had a great amount of success. I think we have helped Danica tremendously become, if you will, you don’t even need to say Patrick. She’s one of these people who you mention her first name and you know who it is and what she does. She has helped us tremendously too. It’s been one of those things that just worked out and it worked out wonderfully.
FOXSPORTS.COM: Have you seen a direct boost in business during Speedweeks?
PARSONS: Our numbers are good – I’m happy. Stockholders are happy. We’re all happy. We couldn’t be more proud or excited to be associated with Danica.
FOXSPORTS.COM: How has the NASCAR experience been for GoDaddy so far? This is a much greater audience than the IndyCar circuit.
PARSONS: It is a lot bigger audience and that makes it that much more wonderful for us. The more we can spread our message and Danica can spread her message, the better. With the huge venue that NASCAR provides, that’s just a tremendous boost for both of us.