As any high tech news report will tell you, internet industry is the way of the future
One day, most industries and businesses may well be run completely through the internet.
Warren Adelman is the president and chief operating officer of GoDaddy.com, which is the world’s largest domain name register. GoDaddy has about 45 million domain names and recently crossed a new domain name milestone of 49 million. Formerly, Warren was an officer in the Israel Defense Forces and he spent several years to the Israel Embassy in Washington D.C. as the chief of public affairs. Read this transcript of his recent interview with Doug Goldstein on the Goldstein on Gelt show. To watch a video of the interview, scroll further down the page.
Douglas Goldstein: What do you think the financial connection with the internet is going to be in another 5, 10 or 20 years?
Warren Adelman: We usually overestimate two and underestimate 10 in terms of a pace of change and how things are affected, but I think that things continue to move more and more away from the physical and into the internet-enabled world. In addition, it moves more and more away from the traditional desktop environment to activity, transpiring through mobile devices or other connected non-desktop types of environment.
From financial perspective, I think you’ve already seen many of the changes. Investment decisions are happening in real time from smart phones. A lot of the traditional roles in the financial world have been dis-intermediated to some extent by this. I think you probably see some acceleration as more of this is available on the mobile phone. Just given the pace of change that is being driven by social connectiveness, you may even see the tie between the financial world and the social world, meaning how your social network or your social connectivity is impacted as you go on a financial level, whether it’s about investment decisions or budgeting decisions or other decisions you make of a financial nature. I think it will be different than what we expected, but we’re definitely seeing the movement towards so much more happening on handheld devices.
Douglas Goldstein: If everything is moving so much to the internet and handheld devices, is that going to be at the expense of the personal relationships that people might have been used to having with their bankers and brokers?
Warren Adelman: I guess the question is how much do you have that relationship with your banker and your broker? I think we’ve already seen so much change upfront. I think it goes without saying that we don’t spend as much time going in the bank to deposit or withdraw money. We do that through ATMs.
I can remember when I was a young man growing up in Canada, having to run to the bank on a Friday afternoon before it closed at 3 o’clock so that I would have money for the weekend. Thank goodness, we now have ATMs and you’re not tied to the time of the bank’s closing. I think the fact that so much information is at our fingertips today and so much can be done in a click of a button really means that the relationship we have with bankers, brokers and financial advisors is going to change and we’re going to have to find ways to interact through that new medium. It may be that you will have some form of network that really is your financial information network and that your broker or your advisor participates in that way. You’ll get alerts from them by your phone.
I don’t know exactly, but I’m sure it is going to continue to evolve and the financial sector will do its best to evolve with it by enabling these tools and being participatory in the tools because they don’t want to disappear from the game - and nor am I suggesting that they should. People always need expert advice or the advice of others. The question is how it’s delivered.
I’m in a web-hosting, domain name, site security, small business presence environment. I’m not a financial expert, so I’m quite possibly getting into an area that’s not my domain expertise.
Douglas Goldstein: Would you give any practical advice for someone starting out who wants to use the web as the core of his business?
Warren Adelman: From our perspective, the domain name is really 21st century real estate. It’s a piece of property, so to speak, that you can register and that transcends traditional world boundaries. The way we look at it is that you have to go where the eyeballs are, and the eyeballs, whether it’s for entertainment, for communications, for real estate, for finance, or for sales, are increasingly moving to the internet.
Our business today has about 9.5 million customers, and the majority of them are small businesses. What they found with us is that for about $140 to $150 a year, you can have your domain name, your website, your marketing tools, your email, website security, all under one roof for very low cost. We always joke that for the price of a small amount of Starbucks Frapuccino, you will be able to enable your business online.
I think the key is to be able to find the right partners so that you could focus on what’s really important for small business, which is running the sales, running the marketing, running the people, dealing with your customers, and letting folks like GoDaddy be your IT partner on the backend.
Douglas Goldstein: One of the areas that small companies often want to get is a good real estate, and the dot com suffix at the end of a website always seems to feel like the serious website, while all the other ones are a little less serious. Is that true, and do you think that’s true going forward?
Warren Adelman: Dot com is still king, simply because that’s where things in many ways started. What’s amazing is that on a daily basis, I still see great dot com names registered. There are still so many brand new dot coms to be registered. I really think it’s not specific to that. We see great work being done with dot orgs where people are building sort of organizations, nonprofits and social organizations around the dot org, or people are using dot me, which GoDaddy is involved in to do various social activities. I think it’s more about how you operate your business or how you market your business than the specific domain name.
Dot com is where it started, and it’s still obviously the most successful top level of domain, and there’s going to be a lot more coming. Recently, the body that oversees the domain name system approved an eventual roll out of literally hundreds of new generic top level domains. At some point in 2013 and beyond, we’ll probably see the proliferation of a lot of new domain names that people will be able to use. We hope that we’ll see a lot of entrepreneurship and innovation. I’m sure some will succeed and some will fail, but the good news is that if you’re starting a business, there’s always a good name that’s available.
Douglas Goldstein: As a former officer in the IDF, what practical lessons did you bring from the army to what you’re doing today?
Warren Adelman: There are probably three things. One is to lead by example. When I was in basic training, and then later when I was an officer, I always had people who were leading by example. If they were making you do something difficult, they were doing it as well, and I’ve always tried to carry out with me. So if our guys here are working late and down in the trenches, I try to be there for support as well and that leading by example is really something important that came through to me in the IDF.
The other thing that I learned, and it actually transpired when I was in the IDF, was there were a question at that time about sprawl within the IDF and the extension of the ranks with non-critical personnel. The chief of staff at the time said, “Listen, it either shoots or helps you, or we’re going to look to make sure it’s not part of the IDF because we want to make sure the resources are going in the right direction.” We always try to think here about, “Hey! It either shoots or helps you.” That’s why there’s really only one admin in this whole company. This is not a company of administrative assistants, secretaries or anything like that, there’s one in the company of 3200 because we like to either shoot or help you.
The other thing is it always helps me put things in perspective. You can have difficult days in any kind of business work environment, but generally speaking you’re not talking about life and death. So when things look hard, you really have to step back and try to put it in perspective about how to prepare for the really hard things that people are doing in the military, whether it’s in the IDF or the U..S Army, and when they’re in harm’s way. You got to have perspective on what you’re doing at any given day in your work day.
Douglas Goldstein: Would you suggest a good way for people to keep track of what’s going on in the company?
Warren Adelman: The best thing is to look in our press section at GoDaddy.com, where those folks do a pretty good job of updating on what’s happening. The other thing is to follow us on Twitter at GoDaddy, which is our Twitter handle, and they produce information pretty regularly. I myself tweet at the social contract, and from time to time, we’ll release information or tidbits about what’s transpiring at the company or how I’m looking at the things that are transpiring in the technology industry.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for investment advice that takes into account each individual’s special position and needs. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.