This the text of an email I sent to the CEO of Outright, a financial tracking service I’ve been using for a few months, on learning they’d been acquired by GoDaddy. Not strictly coding related; but I thought since it concerns a Rails-using startup, and since some of you have shown interest in the business side of what I do, I’d share it here. I’ll try to make up for this with a nice juicy coding post ASAP ūüôā

UPDATE: I’ve added a reply from Steven below.

Steve,

This is really upsetting news. I recently completed an evaluation of several small-business financial tracking services. After Outright worked with me to to resolve some of my initial issues, I chose outright and set up a paid account. I love the easy-to-use Outright UI, the great integrations with other services like Freshbooks, and the fact that it not only imports from Paypal, but can actually track Paypal fees associated with each purchase.

GoDaddy is a company associated with:

  • Moral cowardice¬†for kowtowing to the entertainment lobby against their own users, then poo-pooing the outcry and only flip-flopping when it became clear they were losing real money
  • Poor customer service¬†according to everyone I’ve heard from who has dealt with them.
  • Overall scamminess¬†in basing their business model on a myriad upsells
  • Misogyny in advertising.¬†I’m not against sex in advertising, but GoDaddy takes it to an extreme of objectification with ads which say nothing about the actual service and simply try to distract potential buyers with a pair of boobs.

You can tell me that GoDaddy is changing, but public face is not the same as corporate culture, and corporate culture rarely makes radical shifts. Perhaps in a few years I’ll be ready to accept a new, improved GoDaddy; but as of right now I have no reason to believe that any changes I see are more than superficial responses to some public embarrassments.

As a small business owner:

  • I don’t want my money going to a company like GoDaddy;
  • I don’t want to entrust my financial data to a company like GoDaddy; and
  • I don’t want to be associated in any way with a company like GoDadddy

But there’s another, and perhaps larger concern. As a software developer heavily exposed to startup culture, an acquisition like this rings an alarm bell in my head. Forgive me, but what it suggests is this:¬†the founders are done with Outright; they are cashing out and moving on. I’m not saying all acquisitions are bad; but when it’s a company like GoDaddy doing the acquiring, that says “cash-out” to me. And I don’t want to commit to [yet another] ¬†service that slowly dies on the corporate vine as its new owners try to figure out how to milk it for profits.

I’ll be giving some thought to what this means for me, but it almost certainly means I’ll be cancelling my paid Outright account and looking for a service to replace it. I”ll also be sharing this letter with my followers on Twitter, etc., since I’ve shared my search for a financial tracking service (and my happiness with @outright!) with them up til now, and many of them have shown interest in my findings.

Regards,


Avdi Grimm

UPDATE: Here’s the reply from Steven Aldrich:

Here are my thoughts:

Outright is still the same product run by the same team.¬† We’re going to grow the resources focused on making Outright even better and working with Go Daddy will allow us to help many, many more small businesses.

We have learned in our discussions with Go Daddy that they are going through some big changes. The company has new investors, changed leadership, and is repositioning the brand.  The company is about to launch a new advertising campaign that bridges the past image to the future vision (a piece in the NY Times and a piece in Business Week on the beginning of the branding changes).

When the new CEO took over in December, the first thing he did was acknowledge their mistake on SOPA and wound up opposing it.

Thousands of employees go to work there everyday with a focus on creating a great customer experience … I’ve talked with both the employees and customers to know that they do a good job much of the time.¬† I’m joining the management team to help them get better from here.

I hope you would reconsider and stay on as a customer and I’d be happy to talk with you live.

Thanks,
Steven

Published by Avdi Grimm

15 Comments

  1. Very well written. Thanks for taking a stand!

    Reply
  2. As someone employed by a small startup that has just recently been acquired, I have to say that they may not have had much say on the matter, if they were VC-backed.

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  3. That response is as generic a “I assure you we will continue to get better” response as there ever was. Everyone says this, and uses almost the exact same words.

    Like you, I believe company cultures don’t go through radical shifts, and the part about changed leadership and whatever is nothing but the expected politically correct response.

    Reply
  4. Avdi, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this acquisition. I too use Outright and I too was stunned to learn of the Go Daddy purchase.

    However, while I had a bad taste in my mouth about this move, it was your post that allowed me to solidify my opposition to their move. I will also be canceling my paid account with them. As we all know: actions speak louder than words. Go Daddy, at this moment just has too much baggage for me to even consider continuing with Outright. Which is a shame, Outright is a fine product/service.

    I won’t belabor the point or recount your words. But, Thanks!

    Reply
  5. Thank you for bringing the flaws of GoDaddy to my attention. As I don’t live in the US I had never come across these ads or even heard of the SOPA thing. Next time my ssl certificate needs renewal I’ll make sure not to buy it from GoDaddy.

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  6. Amen! Also, kudos on using “kowtowing”, “poo-pooing”, and “flip-flopping” in the same sentence.

    Reply
  7. Ask anyone who attended the O’Reilly Velocity conference this year how that “new vision” at GoDaddy is working out. Oh wait, you can see for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhD-Fa_2myU “I’m actually quite bummed that I don’t have a GoDaddy girl up here on stage with me today.”

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  8. They are going to launch a new advertising campaign that bridges the past misogyny and scamminess to the future vision? Wow.

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  9. before starting any business, people should plan in such a way that they should have good customer service, because customer is a part of business.

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  10. Avdi, I’m a CoFounder and the CTO of Outright. We’ve spoken a couple of times and I’ve even read some of your books (so has most my team). I’m a technologist and entrepreneur, like yourself, and have spent the last 4 years putting my life into Outright trying to make it the best financial product for small businesses.

    I too had similar concerns when first speaking with GoDaddy regarding a possible acquisition. After meeting the new executive team, spending 2 days at their yearly Tech Fest, and speaking with open-source engineers sponsored by GoDaddy, I found the inside of GoDaddy to be very different from what you describe.

    I agree that they’ve made some mistakes but I agreed to this acquisition because I believe it to be the best for Outright’s customer and the business so we can help the millions of small businesses that have still never heard of Outright. I know these are only words and I’m looking forward to continuing to stay with Outright and prove to our customers that this was the right decision.

    I’d love to discuss our business, product, technology, and new acquisition with you (maybe on Ruby Rogues) further if you’d like to discuss.

    I hope that you’ll consider staying with Outright and give us a chance to prove you wrong. Thanks for your honest opinion and good luck with your business!

    Reply
  11. Can I plug my friends at LessAccounting here? They have great CS and a good attitude towards quality in all things. Also, Namecheap is a nice GoDaddy replacement for those interested. I’m not affiliated with either company (except for using them), but I’ve met Steve & Allan from LessEverything, and they’re OK in my book.

    Reply
  12. And besides all that, GoDaddy made Outright worse! I hate it now. If anyone can recommend another Saas that does what Outright did so well, please let me know!

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  13. I have domains with GoDady I could care less about advertising.

    What I dislike is the entire program is now changing,. The free service has ended and its all pay now. SO they are kicking off all the small people. We need a replacement now.

    Reply

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