There's nothing like getting kicked in the teeth by your customers to make a company see reason. When Internet registry and Web site hosting company Go Daddy first realized that supporting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a misguided Internet copyright and censorship bill, wasn't a smart idea, Go Daddy CEO Warren Adelman did a half-assed job of backing away from SOPA. A few days later, and quite a few lost customers later, Go Daddy has decided to really and truly oppose SOPA.
The first time around, when Adelman announced Go Daddy's opposition to SOPA, he waffled saying, "Fighting online piracy is of the utmost importance, which is why Go Daddy has been working to help craft revisions to this legislation-but we can clearly do better. It's very important that all Internet stakeholders work together on this. Getting it right is worth the wait. Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it."
Now, after the Reddit Go Daddy protest gathered steam; Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales announced that he would be moving Wikipedia's domain names from Go Daddy; and, last but not least, aggressive ads from competiting Internet domain registry and hosting companies such as Namecheap, Adelman has had a real change of heart.
In a statement, Adelman now declares: "We have observed a spike in domain name transfers, which are running above normal rates and which we attribute to Go Daddy's prior support for SOPA, which was reversed. GoDaddy opposes SOPA because the legislation has not fulfilled its basic requirement to build a consensus among stake-holders in the technology and Internet communities. Our company regrets the loss of any of our customers, who remain our highest priority, and we hope to repair those relationships and win back their business over time."
In addition to Adelman's comment, Go Daddy has announced that it's no longer on the U.S. Congressional list of SOPA supporters (PDF Link).
We don't know how many customers left Go Daddy. Namecheap reported that they'd seen "over 27,000 domain transfers from SOPA-Supporting domain registrars." That doesn't sound like that many to me, so I suspect that many other Web site owners were moving their domain names to other registries. In any case, the customer backlash was enough to make Go Daddy change its course.
It was nice to see such honesty from a CEO. By putting its customer loss first, we now know that what really mattered in Go Daddy's shift in policy wasn't the legal or ethical issues; it was the old bottom line. The protesters were speaking with their wallets by taking their domains away from Go Daddy. Money talked and Go Daddy listened.