To me, Bob Parsons’ response to elephant controversy is more damaging than the original video.
Bob Parsons is no stranger to controversy. He doesn’t shy away from it. He embraces it.
During his DOMAINfest keynote earlier this year he said you want to tee up your detractors. They make a lot of noise and drive publicity to your company.
But has Go Daddy passed the point in which “all publicity is good publicity” is a truism?
A number of people say Parsons badly miscalculated his elephant hunting video.
I personally don’t expect a big customer fallout from the elephant hunting video. Sure, Go Daddy lost some customers. It has lost customers over previous controversies as well. Parsons has lived through condoning torture and being open about his political views.
In the short term there’s been no dramatic customer loss from the elephant controversy. Some people think that customers will move out over time as their domains come up for renewal, and I guess we’ll have to see.
(The more immediate short term damage may be to employee morale. If you’re an animal lover and see a video of your CEO killing an elephant you certainly will lose faith in your leadership.)
Yet I think Parsons has made two larger mistakes that could damage his credibility.
First, he made extensive edits to his hunting video at the same time he took to the airwaves to say he did nothing wrong. Maybe he said this in an interview that I missed, but he would have been better to come out and say “I think what I did helped people, but I admit my video may not have gotten the message across properly.” Merely editing the video while defending himself made it look like he had something to hide.
Second, Parsons threatened people that posted copies of the original video. I’m told that some of these threatening notices went out to people that had posted stills of his video. These stills included some of the less glamorous shots from the video that were later deleted.
Most techies don’t care about elephants. But they despise copyright takedown notices, especially when they involve fair use.
If anything would cause customers to flee, it would be the copyright enforcement action.
Will these two things hurt Go Daddy’s business?
The elephant video dug a little hole (except for video.me, which got tons of traffic). The after-the-fact actions dug it a bit deeper.