Google-GoDaddy Marriage on Tap?

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2007-08-29

Google-GoDaddy Marriage on Tap?

Google surprised the industry when it became accredited as a registrar more than two years ago, with analysts questioning whether or not it was planning to challenge the registrar incumbents.

But Google insisted it just wanted to gain a better understanding of the DNS (domain name system) to support its Google Apps strategy. The search engine provider later partnered with registrars GoDaddy and Enom to sell domain names under the Google Apps for Your Domain package for $10 per year as a subscription.

But some industry experts are wondering if there is more to this relationship than meets the eye.

Andrew Allemann, editor of the Domain Name Wire blog and a self-described "domain name enthusiast," suggested GoDaddys rabid filing of patent applications for search, VOIP, e-mail and domain technologies could make GoDaddy, which is known for its racy commercials featuring busty vixens, an attractive target for the acquisition-prone Google.

One patent, for example, would allow for search results to be filtered according to the reputation score of a domain name or that domain name owners reputation. Another prescribes a way to help entrepreneurs kick-start Internet businesses, including ways to trademark domain names, copyright content and order secure certificates.

"Google would get its hands on reams of data about the very domain names it is indexing, as well as acquire its patent portfolio," Allemann wrote in a blog post on Aug. 22.

Read more here about Googles potential bid for GoDaddy.

Going to the source only whetted the appetite further for the skinny.

When asked whether Google and GoDaddy are working on expanding their existing relationship or discussing a union, GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons told eWEEK August 27: "I have no comment on that, but Id like to."

Parsons noted that GoDaddy remains the "back end for the Google Apps for Your Domains" offering. Moreover, Parsons said GoDaddy provides Google AdWords opportunities to millions of customers, as well as "tools they can use to optimize their Web sites for Google."

Asked if Google and GoDaddy are making a lot of money from this practice, Parsons said, "I know Google likes it."

Allemann said this likely means GoDaddy uses a Google advertising feed when it "parks" customers pages, which is basically a domain name that leads users to a screen full of advertising links. The person who owns the domain name will get paid every time someone clicks on this domain name. (See, for example,

"Since Go-Daddy is the largest registrar and Google makes a significant amount of money from parked page ads, [Google] could lock down that advertising base there [by buying GoDaddy], and keep GoDaddy from switching to Yahoo or something like that," Allemann said.

Google is less revealing. When asked to characterize its current relationship with GoDaddy, anything the two companies might be working on, and whether Google has entertained the notion of buying GoDaddy, a Google spokesperson issued the following statement:

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"GoDaddy is a valued partner of Google, along with other leading registrars and Web hosting companies. We believe that partnership models are the key to success by working with industry leaders to build compelling solutions for consumers and businesses. and Enom have the scale, reliability and customer focus we need working behind the scenes to register new domains to get organizations who visit Google Apps without one started right away."

Clearly, Google still relies on GoDaddy for Google Apps for Your Domain remains as much as when Google announced their arrangement last Dec. 14.

GoDaddy also offer products that fit nicely with the Apps part of Googles package, which includes hosted e-mail, calendar, chat and Web publishing applications that organizations can offer employees.

GoDaddy offers many complimentary applications, including hosting solutions, Web site creation tools, Secure SSL certificates, personalized e-mail with spam and anti-phishing filtering and e-commerce tools, in addition to its registrar business.

Google would have to rationalize GoDaddys e-mail offering with its own Gmail offering, but the other tools could certainly support Google Apps. Its worth noting that Google leveraged Postinis security software to protect Gmail before it decided it needed to own the technology outright and shelled out $625 million for the company.

Read more here about Googles purchase of Postini.

Google needs all the help and advantages it can get if its going to tackle Microsoft and others in the applications market. Indeed, trying to nail down who or what Google will buy next has become a popular shell game.

"I wouldnt be at all surprised to see Google acquire GoDaddy for precisely the assets you noted," Michael D. Osterman, of Osterman Research, wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK. "I believe that Google will be making a significant acquisition in the messaging space in the near future [six months], as well."

There are other reasons Google may snap up GoDaddy.

Allemann added that part of the reason Google became a registrar was to figure out when domain names were expiring and falling into the hands of other people. That way, Google could remove the names from its search results.

However, Google was foiled because registrars such as GoDaddy and SnapNames directly transferred domain names to another customer, so the original date of the domain never changed.

So, why is this bad?

"The thing that frustrates Google the most is that in their organic search results, say there was a domain that had a lot of credibility and good content. Next thing you know it expires, no one buys it and theres just a parking page on there," Allemann said.

"But it hurts the user experience when someone clicks on an organic search result and ends up at a parked page. So Google can get their hands on a significant amount about the domains from GoDaddy beyond just becoming a registrar."

All the more reason for Google to be on the hunt for GoDaddy.

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