Go Daddy lands ex-Yahoo exec Blake Irving

Former Yahoo chief product officer Blake Irving has landed a new job as CEO at Go Daddy, the Arizona-based webhosting service that’s known for making it easy to set up your own website, and for some controversial TV ads featuring scantily clad models.

In a quick phone interview on Tuesday, Irving joked that the new job is a natural fit because he’s been a Go Daddy customer for years, as the proprietor of some 45 web domains that are hosted on the company’s servers. Irving, who led the development of Yahoo’s product strategy and a division that built a new publishing platform among other things, explained that he’s always been the go-to guy for friends and relatives who needed help setting a website for their start-up or nonprofit ventures.

More seriously, Irving said he sees a big opportunity to expand Go Daddy’s business beyond web-hosting, by helping start-ups and small companies with things like social media campaigns and mobile apps.

In places like Brazil and India, he said, “very few people are getting on the web using PCs. It’s all happening on mobile devices. Those mobile devices are the portal to the Internet today.”

Irving spent 15 years as a senior executive at Microsoft before he was hired at Yahoo by then-CEO Carol Bartz. He left the Sunnyvale Internet company last year when Bartz’s successor, Scott Thompson, reorganized and disbanded much of the division Irving led. Thompson’s tenure was short, however, and Irving had some warm things to say about Yahoo under its new boss, Marissa Mayer.

“I hear really good things from inside the company,” he said of Yahoo. “I hope they’re moving in a great direction that makes them a real winner.”

Thompson, who has lived in San Luis Obispo for several years, said he won’t have to move for his new job because he also has a home in Scottsdale, where Go Daddy is based.

And about those racy TV spots: Thompson said he likes their “edgy nature,” but said he wants to add more information about Go Daddy’s “value proposition” for small business. He mentioned one of the company’s latest ads, featuring a beefy pizzeria owner named Frank, who keeps all his clothes on, as a good example.

He didn’t mention that Frank gets a little more sensual in another ad in the series.




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