Go Daddy angles to become bigger cloud apps provider

Before its CEO resigned in July, Go Daddy snapped up small business accounting software company Outright. Is this its next step to becoming a broader cloud provider?

When I first starting looking into Outright, a cloud service that lets small businesses organize and track receipts and other information necessary for annual accounting purpose, it was an independent company.

The application can import data from key marketplaces including PayPal, eBay, Amazon and Etsy, as well as bank and credit card accounts. The basic services are free (right now at least); Outright Plus (9.95 per month until the fourth quarter) is a premium service that includes Annual, Quarterly and Sales Tax tracking and reporting. 

The service only became more interesting when Outright was acquired by Go Daddy in mid-July.

The rationale from Go Daddy's standpoint is twofold: Not only are both companies focused on building out infrastructure for letting businesses manage their operations in the computing cloud, they are both focused explicity on small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

"Outright.com has built easy-to-use software that streamlines the work involved involved with running a start-up or small business ... the taxes, income, profits, expenses and other financial data that can be an adminstrative distraction for business owners," said Warren Adelman, who was Go Daddy CEO when the acquition was announced.

Adelman resigned that post a couple of weeks later, so it should be interesting to see if the plan for OutRight unfolds as originally anticipated. Regardless, the Outright buyout is the company's first major acquisition.

Steven Aldrich, who was CEO at the time of Outright's acquisition, said the application has attracted more than 200,000 small businesses since it was introduced in 2008. "Financial management and taxes apply to everyone, but few small-business owners want to spend much time worrying about it," he said.

An example of an Outright customer is Natalie Rustigan, who owns an online clothing store called Superstars in Disguise. She said:

"I have a pretty busy life and it was hard for me to always keep track of my income and expenses. With Outright, I automatically know my profit and it has a list of all my transactions, along with charts, that allow me to see how much I spend on things."

Aldrich is now Go Daddy's senior vice president of applications, and he said the Outright service will be integrated into Go Daddy's other core services, such as its Web site hosting and e-commerce offerings.

Over the next few months, the Outright Web site will be streamlined to fit with the Go Daddy site navigation, and an integrated service is being planned before the end of the year. There is a price change in the offing; Outright had already been notifying its users that prices would change in the fourth quarter, although the details aren't yet available.

In late 2011, Go Daddy was bought out by KKR, Silver Lake and Technology Crossover Ventures -- and it said that money would go toward building its services business beyond the core domain name and hosting services upon which it made its name. KKR executive Scott Wagner is serving as interim CEO until the board names a replacement.

It should be interesting to see if the company attempts to cast itself after the likes of Zoho, which has explicitly focused on cloud business applications tailored for small businesses.