Rob Cairns sits down with Adam Warner and talks Web Devlopement, WordPress and GoDaddy.
- Why WordPress.
- How GoDaddy has changed.
- The benefit to GoDaddy’s Woo-managed hosting.
- The Pagely acquisition.
- Things coming in the future from GoDaddy.
Good morning, everybody. It’s Rob Cairns here today, I’m here with Adam Warner, Director of Field Marketing for GoDaddy. How are you today, Adam?
I’m great Rob
It’s nice to be here, thanks. For having me.
Not always such a pleasure.
You’re such an integral part of the WordPress community, which for me is matters because we were watching a Twitter thread the other day and I said to you in one of the threads, community matters so.
Thank you for what you do.
It’s much appreciated.
Oh God, it’s my.
Pleasure just to hear someone describe me as an integral part of that commute.
Mindy, when I think back to late 2004 or early 2005, when I first found WordPress, the platform and and then very immediately after the community I I knew almost immediately.
It’s where I wanted to be and where I wanted to to to to have a career.
So to hear those words really touches my heart.
So thank you very.
Much you’re welcome, they’re so well deserved I always like to ask people how they got into WordPress.
So I’m gonna ask you to.
Question how did you get into WordPress and how did you get into marketing?
How long do you want this podcast to be?
Uh, so I’ll I’ll.
I’ll try and give you the the short story in the short timeline so I I started building HTML websites in the late 90s then quickly experimented with Geocities and Adobe go live and all in front page and.
All of those.
All the while working full time jobs so building websites was definitely a hobby for me at that time.
2004 uh, my my brother passed away and I had made a a photo to DVD memorial for him to show at his funeral and.
Some people enjoyed it.
I ended up making copies for family and friends and then I ended up working a deal with the the the the the Funeral Home.
To create those things for, for, for their customers all the while working full time in customer service for an audio book company doing their website and phone sales.
So I had built a website for this little side business that I called moving moments and I knew.
At some point I needed a faster way to upload saying I was.
Starting to upload.
22nd iMovie files to show examples.
Of of what I was creating and and so I started exploring platforms.
I’d heard you know, blogging is a good way to you know drive business.
I had this vision of, you know, making this a a larger kind of a thing with multiple funeral homes and turning it into a real business instead of a side hustle so.
Through investigating open source platforms, I tried a few and when I found WordPress it kind of spoke to me.
Visually and technically, my schooling is in advertising design and I I struggled a little bit to get my concepts out into some kind of media.
This was back in 1990, you know, through the early 90s my professor at the time gave me a book called Right.
Brain left brain and.
Yeah, and and and so at that it it made me understand that I have a creative brain and an analytical brain.
And so when keeping that in mind when I found website development that.
Kind of hit hit both both both sides right?
And so I that I felt the same when I found WordPress.
I felt like technically I could.
I could dig in and do a little, a little dev, but the visual part was kind of there for me.
You know it would.
It would output in in the way that was.
You know acceptable to me, so that’s where I found WordPress and then very almost immediately. Like I said, I found the community now through the wordpress.org forums, and obviously I was asking lots of questions. How do we do this? How do we do that?
And at that point I was pretty amazed that people in those forums were so helpful and so giving of their time and that rubbed off and I started giving back.
The more I learned I started writing WordPress tutorials on a different site and giving back in the forums.
And then Fast forward.
A little bit.
I was really diving into WordPress with a side hustle working at this audio book company and happened to share a cubicle wall with the IT manager and I just wouldn’t shut up about using WordPress to help our audio book authors market their audio books.
You know, having little author blogs and things.
And so he gave me a book on SQL said GO study this over the weekend and then Monday will interview you.
Blow and behold, I joined the IT department there for a few years and was using WordPress every day.
Uh, I had to move back to Florida, ’cause my wife was from Florida.
She lived in Michigan for a while.
And that’s about all she could take.
Was about four years.
Of the cold.
So I ended up as a web development and Internet marketing manager for an HV AC company.
Based in Florida and I took their 16 page HTML website to a full WordPress multisite install with separating residential and commercial product, but then also building an intranet on WordPress multi site and this is between 2008 and 2002.
Well, and if you’ve ever worked with multi site.
Especially in those days, you can imagine all of the duct tape and Band-aids I used to to build all of that stuff.
I mean, I do.
My head at you as you speak.
Yeah yeah, and thankfully it wasn’t.
An ecommerce, it was just more of a a catalog site and I should preface that by saying before I took that job when I was still at the audiobook company, I started another side hustle.
Called indielab.org where it was the the same model as many other businesses like wordpress.com. As a matter of fact where I was providing free blogs for for people and artists specifically.
So, so I’d had some experience with WordPress multi site and turn that into a career. And because I was in WordPress all day every day at that time between again the the 2007 was really I think when I themes was born and and which in.
Birthd the the commerce or the business side of WordPress into premium themes premium plugins, so I’d seen that growing.
Our friend, our friend Corey Miller.
Who is yes?
Who is visionary and you and I both know well and he’s such a.
Humble man, as far as I’m concerned for what he’s done for this community.
He is a gentle business giant.
Uh and visionary.
Yes, I I love Korean and and you know, when he did that, a lot of people soon followed suit.
So we saw the birth of places like Envato and theme from you know all up and theme for I think uh, a bottle maybe already existed for design stuff.
But the Themeforest and codecanyon.
And all those things.
So because I had been, I was in that world every day in WordPress, every day in the community, every day.
I had lots of ideas about plugins that I thought would be useful to people.
I tried to be a developer.
All of the things that I developed in terms of plugins mostly broke sites and I tried to be a theme designer and most my themes were so ugly no one wanted to use.
Some so I I was in this space where you know I had this moment early on but like who am I?
You know, am I some I had impostor syndrome about being, you know, part of the, uh, WordPress community person, right?
Uhm, So what I did was I was on the gravity forms for your listeners.
Gravity forms is probably the most popular forms plugin available for WordPress.
I was on their forums because I was doing a little client side job and trying to build a gravity forms extension.
And I was having trouble.
A guy named Brad.
Uh was helping me on the forums.
I said can we just take this offline and can I, you know, are you willing to take this on as a as a paid job?
And he was and and he did the job and I paid him and then I said, hey?
You seem to be a great developer, I’m I’m in WordPress.
Everyday I kind of.
You know, have an idea of the ecosystem and some things that might work.
Would you like to, you know, build something together and he was in South Africa and I was in Florida at the time.
So I think he, in retrospect I think he saw me as some kind of a.
You know an an information product marketer which.
Art isn’t inherently bad, but.
Back at that time.
It was known as kind of like the infomercial type of.
Sales, you know?
So we got on the phone, had a great conversation.
We ended up building the first version of Food Box and then created a company.
Called the food plug.
Skins and food box and food gallery are the the two most popular plugins and we ran that together for six years.
Until I started working in the Community for brands in 2016.
That’s a hell of a journey.
Yeah, I mean there’s a lot more nuances there, but I I tried to keep it short.
I don’t know how well I did there. No, you did really well and now you’re up at GoDaddy, which is interesting and kind of where I wanna dive in. Is there was a Twitter thread we were talking about before we went to record that you.
Were involved in.
Only kind of Godaddy’s kind of changed your approach a little bit, and I think Godaddy’s become more user centric.
They become more community involved a lot, do you yourself what to do?
Marcus Burnette, Cortney Robertson and many many other people.
But the three of you is who I usually interact.
I think you’ve tried to really do right for the community.
Yeah, you know.
First and foremost, I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I do too to be in the web designer and developer space as it relates to WordPress daily, so I never.
Take that for granted and and I just before I get into into that, I I want to just give a little background right?
So for those who who who, who know and who may not know so.
Uh, 8-9 years ago.
GoDaddy’s reputation had some trouble due to some of the ways they advertised due to what we were talking about earlier about heavy upselling. During the checkout process and this is all you know, well known within the Community and and and in the customer.
Circle, so this is this is nothing new.
But they listened to feedback.
CEO’s have changed multiple times since those times and back in.
I would say probably 2013, 2014.
And I know for sure 2015.
A lot of credit is due to a guy named Mendel Kurland yeah, who worked for GoDaddy and Mendel and a few others were in the company were the first to bring the GoDaddy brand into the WordPress community, very specifically in terms of.
Word Press focused events and more specifically, the word Camp global program.
And for those that don’t know word camps.
Our events community organized and LED events in many places around the world. Pre COVID 189 events across the globe.
Approximately every year, so GoDaddy came into the WordPress community and me, being part of the the WordPress community online and social groups and also at these events, I saw that first hand.
In tremendous credit.
Uh, a brunt of of complaints.
About about the brand and about some of the products at the time.
But what he did was he took that feedback directly back to the leadership at the company and product teams, and that is what?
Speed up the turning of the ship.
Come from those early days into.
Uh, you know what we what we are today?
UM, so they they created products like the managed WordPress hosting product which Pagely pioneered of course.
And then all hosts followed.
But it’s basically an optimized.
Server environment for WordPress.
And then you bought Pagely actually.
Yeah yeah, and and we’ll get there and yeah, so we did Paisley Paisley.
Just joined the company.
Uh, several months ago, which we couldn’t be happier about, but at at that time so they started to make moves on WordPress, specifically realizing that that was.
The the most popular platform that needed to be supported and acquired their first acquisition in that space was manage WP.
Which was and is a set of tools that allow you to bulk manage.
Uhm, websites and bulk updates, which then allows a freelancer to create website care plans.
They can go in and bulk update hundreds of sites and each of their clients pays X amount per month to make sure that someone is managing those things.
And then boy I don’t know where to go where there’s.
There’s a lot of recent acquisitions like in the last three or four years that I, I think.
Have relevance security wise.
A the security.
One in security was, I believe, the second one in the WordPress space.
You’re right, thank you for for reminding me of that and then Sucuri.
Powers a lot of the security scanning that is included in a lot of the the products these days.
Uhm and then Fast forward to a few years ago.
Uhm, we know that WordPress and WooCommerce are the two most popular platforms on the web for websites and and E commerce.
The team at Sky Verge Sky Verge was on an agency and a a business that created WooCommerce product extensions we.
Acquired them, they joined the company, uh?
And then we acquired a company called Point which is a payment processor and then most recently pagely.
So when you think of those three things as a trifecta, you’ve got the experts in WordPress and WooCommerce which we had a lot of WordPress people.
We have contributors that they’ve been hired full time to contribute to the open source project.
But Sky Verge teams, specifically the developers, the leadership there, the care teams all focused on WordPress and Woo commerce.
And then you’ve got a payment processor which fits naturally into ecommerce and and all the things.
And then you’ve got pagely, the pioneer.
Of optimized managed WordPress hosting platforms and so with those three things combined, it’s it’s set us up for something pretty incredible that we.
What we’re releasing later this year.
Yeah, and I think what’s kind of happening is the WordPress space is kind of maturing, so it’s not just with GoDaddy, it’s with your competitors.
There’s a lot of buyouts going on, and.
I actually think it’s good for the ecosystem, not bad, so I’m probably.
On who you talk to?
Not in a minority.
And I think it’s setting WordPress up for being that enterprise solution, ’cause I I truly think that’s where the growth is.
It’s not in small business units anymore.
I think it’s in the enterprise space.
Yeah, I, I mean I would agree with you there as the you know, having seen the.
Both of us, having seen the onset of the business ecosystem in WordPress from where it started in 2006, 2007 to where it is today.
Uhm, I think we’ve we’ve got the small business owner and the entrepreneur and the average web designer, developer or agencies kind of covered right in terms of we, we have tools and products that they can utilize to to get stuff done.
And when you see a lot of these acquisitions happening, especially in the last, I’d say four or five years, it’s really speed up in the last three years especially, I love David Besets tweets.
You know, he he resets the acquisition counter pretty often.
But we are seeing this this consolidation.
Of sorts within the WordPress business space, and there are a lot of people people that are worried about that.
You know, thinking oh
No, it’s going to kill innovation or it’s going to do.
It’s it’s it’s.
It’s going to.
It’s going to block.
Solopreneurs or new entrepreneurs from getting into the space but.
I don’t agree I. I think it is a good thing because and I say that having been on the inside quote UN quote the inside now and seeing how these acquisitions when done right.
And when supported with the proper resources for the reason that they were acquired, you know there’s a lot of different reasons to acquire things.
There’s acquiring talent.
There’s acquiring users.
There’s acquiring, you know, a certain product niche.
But when you acquire for all three of those things.
Uhm, you know when I say talent, I don’t just mean you, you know someone to enter data.
I mean talent in.
The creative thinking the business acumen on how things should be approached when you have all those things combined in an acquisition, incredible things can happen.
And I think in terms of.
You know the wider web.
And because this is all based on open source software.
I, I think it’s pretty incredible and I think it’s a good thing for for the open web.
In general I I would agree with.
You, I mean one of the things.
I was looking at recently I’ve got.
For one to record is said to have got several clients homepage Lee. So somebody said to me when GoDaddy acquired ’cause it was thinking back to reputation back to like six or seven years ago.
How do you feel?
And I said, oh Pedro, will be fine, don’t I think it’s a good move.
And then I’ve got a new client that I was working on some stuff on your managed ecommerce hosting and one of the nice things that a hosting company in that space does is it can say, here’s your hosting.
Here’s 20 plugins, which is what you offer.
I forget if it’s 20, it’s more than that.
And it’s 75.
75 Thank you, but the point I was making was.
So now you’ve got TA hosting in 75 of the most popular plugins. It’s all there for you.
And even as a developer or a designer and more of, UM, that’s intriguing.
’cause everything is in one spot and I don’t have to go running around and get what I need to build that product.
Yeah, I’m I’m really proud of what they’ve done with our managed WooCommerce hosting and I should be clear that those premium extensions are a mix of our owned Sky Verge extensions, but we also have a partnership with with woo commerce.
Where they’re providing some of their premium extensions and the real benefit there of having hosting where when you’re on boarding, you’re choosing things like will you have subscriptions.
Do you need curbside delivery?
You know all of the.
The kind of use cases that you would need a specific extension for.
It is kind of asked in the onboarding and then those premium extensions are preinstalled.
As you know the hosting is getting set up so when you get set up you have all the tools there that you need and it saves a lot of.
Time and frustration.
I you and I both and I’m.
I’m sure your audience has also experienced.
Going out and buying premium plugins, and maybe you’re buying premium plugins on you know multiple different sites and then you’ve got licensing that are licensed keys that you have to keep track of all those.
And then maybe they’re getting renewed at different times and you can end up spending quite a lot of money on premium extensions.
For your yearly renewals, but then when they’re included in the cost of hosting.
Because we can do it at scale, it’s.
Really really quite.
Useful I’m I’m really proud of that.
Look at that product and you should be. I mean I did it the other day for a client who wasn’t a GoDaddy Klein and I purchased this.
There’s an extension through the Woo store and it turned out that extension conflicted with another extension and I won’t tell you the words that came out of my mouth and I was back into the wood stores.
Saying I’m invoking my 30 day refund policy, give me my money back and at least.
If you’ve got.
75 extensions in one platform. The odds are they’re all gonna work well together because I would make the assumption that they were all tested together.
Yes, yeah and.
Yeah, and in that situation it’s tough too because then are you going to the plug in?
A developer for support.
Are you going to the Commerce store for support?
It can get dicey really quickly, so the the managed WooCommerce product and I’m.
I’m thank you for for giving it a try and putting it to the test and and utilizing it.
We appreciate that.
When you think of kind of the next version of that, that’s where the Sky Verge, point and pagely.
Trifecta comes in as I mentioned before, we’re really, really excited about what’s coming.
I feel like I’m teasing something, but I’m not ’cause we’ve.
We’ve we’ve done a press release of about the Paisley acquisition, what we intend to build.
We tend to build a WooCommerce sass that has.
Even deeper integration and even easier usage of.
Very specific features that we know ecommerce store owners utilize across the board, so it’s not a matter of pre installing extensions.
It’s a matter of just everything being there.
Yeah, and I think you know one of the the biggest competitors in e-commerce space.
Of course to Shopify.
Who’s kidding and my problem, you know with Shopify, is every time we I go down this road with somebody is Shopify?
I starts at $29.00 a month, but by the time you add everything in that you need to run that store effectively, you’re like sky high out of nowhere.
And why not just spend the money on a woo store where you control all the content all the space?
What you put there even more, and you’re not caught on somebody elses ruling?
Yeah, the the beauty of you know anything that we’ve talked about as it compares to a Shopify or square space.
Or even a wig.
Fix is that everything is centralized in one place and it’s all powered by open source software.
So if you need something truly custom, you can do it.
You’re not blocked by a closed platform.
So that’s that’s where the real benefit of all of this comes in.
Yeah, it’s so it’s.
So true and, and that’s the problem with the close platform is.
Have to worry about their developer getting off and doing what they need to do and it all depends on how many user requests were.
With open source you have one requested funding right?
Developer you can build it, yeah?
And that’s a big deal in in terms of GoDaddy. Where are you that you could share going in the WordPress space in the next one?
I’m sorry, can you say that again, where are we going?
Where are you going?
Is there anything new coming down the pipe that you can share?
At this point, yes, so.
I I want to backtrack a little bit back to you know that era of of 2015 when the the focus on word press really.
Was was was more solid I’m I’m very happy to report that WordPress has always been a focus here within the company.
Uh, even before I came on in 2018, but what, uh, what?
Has what had happened was that you know this is a company of 7000 plus people and it’s a global company and so you have a lot of different brands.
You have a lot of different hosting environments.
You have a lot of different teams, product teams, you know.
Multiple product team.
Multiple marketing teams.
And and then you you always had this kind of this core team of people who knew WordPress and knew, you know, knows the community.
So things became a little bit siloed in terms of.
The the understanding of the nuances of the nuances of you know the project and the wider word press community.
Uh, But I’m happy to report that in the last I would say two years and more specifically in the last.
Year, uh Word Press has become a company wide.
Strategic initiative and what that means is that.
And there are no more silos.
Everyone across the board and remember we have 52 different products not just in hosting and domains and we have email and we have social stuff and we have GoDaddy studio which is like.
Almost like a Canva, right so?
And and even is an even business invoicing if I recall, so yeah.
Yes, yes we have. Of course I I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned. I am on the GoDaddy Pro marketing team and GoDaddy Pro is an official sub brand of GoDaddy focused on web designers and developers which.
We have 100% focus on on WordPress, so of course supporting all kinds of web designers and developers, but.
And with GoDaddy Pro we have the hub which is powered by the tools of manage WP. In terms of those bulk updates and powered by security with security with the security scans but also powered by many other teams.
UM, in terms of that being the place to manage your freelance business, so a lot more to come there with the hub.
But we’ve come a long way with that so.
Where I was going was they come the focus on word press has been there’s there’s been no one.
Well, I wouldn’t say no one but there’s been few people within the company that is running around with their hands in the air more than me because we’ve built many of our teams very specifically.
To include people from the web designer, developer community from the word press community specifically so we can bring that knowledge together and so.
So what that has translated into is that there is now this centralized location for every single employee within the company.
To learn more about WordPress, the project Word, Press the code word, press the Community WordPress as it relates to our products word.
Rest as it relates to our SMB entrepreneurs, web designers developers.
We’re being very transparent with everything, so we can create this grounds to groundswell.
Excuse me within.
Each individual of our company and getting them more involved, encouraging them to.
Submit to speak at events, encouraging them to get involved in wordpress.org and any of the 20 plus contributor teams. And so the.
The I don’t know what the right term is, but one of the things that was first done with this with this focus was to look at our platforms and to look at our managed WordPress platform specifically and ask how can we do better?
How can we?
How can we ensure that this is the most solid managed WordPress?
Platform available and of course the Josh Treble and team from Pagely have been instrumental in.
Giving feedback from their experience with their managed WordPress platform.
So we’ve already seen some major major improvements on the managed WordPress platform which includes the managed WooCommerce.
So if you spin up, if you have spun up a site on the managed WordPress platform a year ago.
And you spin up one today and compared the two just in terms of like GT metrics or page speed or something like that.
You will see a very, very noticeable difference and that will apply to every single hosting platform that we have across brands very, very soon.
So that’s the the, the, the big things I’m excited about.
Yeah, it’s working.
That’s that’s actually pretty awesome Adam.
I think I was saying to you before we went to record your.
Your hosting company has to be your partner in your business and it’s something I truly believe.
Uhm, I don’t like this.
Oh, let’s hire A company and we’ll just pay the money and then when I get you get ticked off, you scream at them.
That’s not my approach to things. I think they really need to be your partner, and I think GoDaddy is really doing a good job of trying to be.
The partner in the freelancer.
The agency business.
That is really good to hear that that is coming across Rob, because that is exactly the approach that the company has taken.
So when you think of a company of our size, there’s different business units.
There’s different organizations within the company.
There are two main organizations within the company, independence and which include SMB and entrepreneurs, and then the other side is called partners and those are for anyone who is building solutions for others, and so we very specifically.
Want to become those growth partners for both of those audiences?
If you are an entrepreneur with an idea and you need support, we have programs like venture forward and the Empower program where we are.
Very specifically kind of handholding people through the creation of their business and and and the success of their business, and then on the other side, building tools like the Hub for the web designer, developer audience to to have someplace that they go.
Every day to get kind of an overview of what their freelance or agency business.
What what those tasks are?
Uh, that they need to take care of for each of those clients that they’re taking care of.
If they’re doing website care plans.
So we do, I mean all up within the company we do see ourselves as partners in it and it’s not.
This isn’t not a mind-blowing concept, right?
But and it’s not unheard of, but I can tell you.
Come all the way from senior leadership from our CEO Man Butoni all the way.
Every single person that I’ve interacted with in the last three and.
Years has a customer first mindset because we know that that’s how to succeed.
Constant upsells is not how to succeed right?
The other, the other things that have been done in the past, are not how to succeed.
If we are providing.
Education providing solid products and tools.
And helping people succeed that financial success, right?
Because we are a public company.
And all you know cascades down from there.
Uhm, really appreciate you joining me today as we wrap up.
Is there one last thing you’d like to?
About GoDaddy or where you’re going or.
What you’re doing.
Well, I mean, I would say.
I would welcome any of your listeners to reach out to me personally on Twitter @wpmodder.
Uhm, because we are always actively seeking feedback when I’m part of the team that I run, it’s it’s field marketing and we have five people on my team, but we’re connected to pretty much every other team within the company in some way.
We we are the conduit.
Come to provide feedback to senior leadership to different product teams to UI UX teams, whatever it is and we’re happy to do that.
And I would say also be on the lookout for.
Uh, programs coming up.
Where you can join as kind of a beta user and give direct feedback about some upcoming products like this woo commerce powered sass that I mentioned.
We want to hear from you.
We are nothing if we are not serving your needs right so.
We’re very focused on that.
Thanks Adam for your time today and for talking about GoDaddy and you have a wonderful day.
Thanks Robert for the time and it’s always a pleasure to speak with you and I wish.
The same for you.