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Go Daddy in the hands of private equity giants

A bad day for elephants

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Domain name and web hosting giant Go Daddy has confirmed that it has entered into a strategic partnership with venture capital firms KKR, Silver Lake and Technology Crossover Ventures.

Go Daddy CEO and founder Bob Parsons said the investors were selected because of their technology expertise and understanding of online businesses.

“We believe, together, we will take the company to the next level, especially when it comes to accelerating international growth," he said in a boilerplate statement on Go Daddy's website.

The value or terms of the transaction were not disclosed but the buyers are believed to be paying around US$2.25 billion, as previously reported.

Parsons has insisted that the transaction is not a sale but a partnership that is reinvesting in Go Daddy, which will include the expansion of its current services, a move into cloud-based services and the rapid expansion of its international presence.

Founded in 1997, Go Daddy serves more than 9.3 million global customers and manages more than 48 million domain names.

The company has been looking for investors since last year when its board hired Qatalyst Partners to explore a potential sale. The company had also planned an IPO in 2006 but withdrew its bid due to poor market condition and Parsons' struggle to meet the quiet-period rules set by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Silver Lake MD Greg Mondre, said "Go Daddy is powerfully positioned for future growth as it continues to innovate and add to its truly unique platform of cloud-based software and services. At the same time, we plan to maintain and augment all of the attributes that have made Go Daddy a clear market leader today, including world class customer support and competitive pricing for its 9.3 million customers."

Silver Lake’s stake in Go Daddy joins the ranks of its serial technology investments which include Groupon, Zynga and Skype.

It is unclear how much Parsons will make out of the investments but is set to become executive chairman of the company after the sale closes and will remain a large stakeholder. Parsons is probably best known for attracting the wrath of animal lovers and activists globally for his hunting antics. Earlier this year he posted a video on the Go Daddy video blog (which subsequently went viral) of a hunting trip to Africa where he hunted down and killed an elephant, which then got carved up for meat

“Each year I go to Zimbabwe and hunt problem elephants. It's one of the most beneficial and rewarding things I do. This video shows a typical day of this year's trip,” he posted in April. Despite a global backlash he has not removed it from the website.

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