Domain registrar Go Daddy is hiring as it sets up an engineering hub in Seattle’s eastern suburbs, and it’s looking for new people to work at its other sites as well. CEO Blake Irving says the Seattle outpost will employ 50 to 65 people, out of a total of about 300 open positions company-wide. They include everything from senior engineers to Internet consultants to customer support staffers, located in its Scottsdale, Ariz., headquarters, Sunnyvale, Calif., Denver and other locations.
Go Daddy has already lured noted talent away from other giants, including Chief Architect Arnold Blinn after 17 years at Microsoft, Yahoo’s former vice president of engineering Elissa Murphy, and former general manager of hosting and security Jeff King, who came from eBay.
Irving, who became CEO in January, has said he wants to tighten the company’s focus on engineering as it scales to grow internationally and provide small companies with the software and services they’ll need to run their businesses online. He refers to Go Daddy as a smaller company than the Microsofts and Amazons of the Seattle region, with 1,000 people in engineering and product support.
“We have an opportunity for someone who’s a passionate engineer or passionate product person to have a disproportionate effect on the products and services we produce than someone in a larger company,” he told us. “We’re a private company. We have not had an IPO. That means people don’t have to work under the constraints that a public company has and can make something happen. They could say, ‘I might be the reason the company goes public, not just building a dialog box within an application that’s part of an application suite.’”
To start, Go Daddy likes people who have focused expertise. “We want mobile engineers to be the best in mobile and to have focused on that for some time,” Irving explains. “If you’re a Big Data person, we want you to have worked with Big Data not just in one system, but different kinds. We want somebody who has worked in SQL, NoSQL, Hadoop.”
In product management, he looks for people who can define the marketplace, the technology landscape and determine probable outcomes in Go Daddy’s market. Underlying all of this is a desire for people who “really want to understand what a customer wants and needs, and likes connecting with them,” Irving says.
“When I interview folks, I look for passion in something that could be other than their business. I certainly want somebody with a passion for technology, but I want to know that they have that spark that makes them different, that makes them an attractor of other people, that makes them a great team member that other people want to work with.”
Irving describes Go Daddy’s growth pattern as organic. “We had a lot of ideas, and we’d focus an engineering team on them. We’d create sort of a point solution, then move on to the next idea and the next product. What that ends up leaving are artifacts of what I’ll call technology silos.” By that he means quick solutions that solve problems but don’t necessarily integrate with others. The company’s challenge, then, is “taking these point solutions and building a platform that incorporates all their capabilities so that they have programmable interfaces on top of them to scale out to multiple data centers, in multiple languages around the world.”
Go Daddy’s Culture
Go Daddy’s culture is “energizing: work hard, play hard, lean in, knock down barriers, pay attention to customers and get stuff done,” Irving says. “We’re all in the mosh pit to solve customer problems in as wide-open a way as we can.”
That means he looks for hints of a cultural fit from the very first contact with a prospective employee. “When submitting an application to us, I’d urge them to let some of their personality come through,” Irving says. “It’s not just about meeting the qualifications, it’s about being a fit. If someone came in wearing a suit and was kind of buttoned up, that wouldn’t necessarily be the person for us. We’re looking for someone who can roll up their sleeves, work hard, solve hard problems and have fun doing it.”
Advice for Experienced Professionals
“Have domain expertise in what you do. Have a ‘work hard, play hard’ attitude. Enjoy working with teams to get stuff done,” Irving says. “Don’t be political. Be about the customer, doing the right thing, and doing it as a team, not claiming ownership of it.”
Irving emphasizes a characteristic that he says has been forgotten in hiring: “Are you fun to work with? The people we’ve been hiring at Go Daddy are a blast to work with.”
Advice for New Graduates
Be prepared to talk in detail about Go Daddy’s business and your own approach to the job you’re trying to get, Irving says. And be detailed. “Ask hard questions. Have your questions be about what you’re doing for your customers,” he says. “What do you code in, what do you host in, what’s your database architecture? Do you use Ruby on Rails? Are you Linux? Are you Windows-based?”
Finally, the company likes candidates with diverse interests. “Were they just studying or were they also trying to grow their own business?” Irving asks. “Were they taking some big swings while working on their degree?”