Even GoDaddy employees, it turns out, think the company’s support of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was totally nuts. And one was brave enough to talk about it on Reddit, a bastion of resistance to the proposed American law.
When Reddit users discovered that the company supported the act, they launched a boycott of epic proportions. It eventually spread to Twitter and other social media sites, where people like Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh threatened to take his 1,000 domains, lolcats and all, to one of GoDaddy’s rivals.
The furor has been particularly intense because, as a hosting company, many of GoDaddy’s clients stand to be directly affected by SOPA. The bill ostensibly fights online piracy by making it easier to knock websites suspected of involvement with file sharing offline. But many tech companies, including big names such as Google, Yahoo, eBay, say provisions of the legislation amount to censorship and could cripple the free Web. Some of GoDaddy’s cohorts in the domain-name industry believe it will be bad for their business.
Reddit’s cofounder and general manager, meanwhile, have both argued that the bill could kill the social news site. Considering this, it’s no surprise the site’s tech-savvy, libertarian-leaning user base launched the boycott last week, which quickly forced the company to change its position.
So when that GoDaddy employee took to Reddit’s live question-and-answer section, r/IAmA, he braved a gauntlet of furious redditor questions. Though the employee posted under a pseudonymous name, forum moderators said they’d verified his identity in private.
It was either an honest attempt to shed light on the inner workings of GoDaddy or a calculated, brilliant public-relations move. We’ve posted some of the best exchanges below.
Q: What is your personal stance on SOPA? (Bazil4385)
A: I am strongly against SOPA. Additionally, everyone I speak to at GoDaddy either opposes SOPA or doesn't know enough to have an opinion (which I am fine with, everyone can't know everything). I have not met any regular employee that supports SOPA.
Q: What's the overall feeling within the company about getting pimp-smacked by Reddit? (ckelly323)
A: Negative press sucks, but if you read some of my other replies, GoDaddy isn't going to be crippled by this. Lost business sucks and the people I have spoken to (me included) wish we had not gotten involved in SOPA for two reasons: SOPA sucks and lost business sucks. :)
Q: Does GoDaddy's support of SOPA bother you? Do you feel culpable for that corporate position, or do you not feel any ethical responsibility in this situation? If you do feel a degree of responsibility, would you (or have/are you) consider leaving GoDaddy due to the SOPA stance and conflict with your ethics? (c3tn)
A: It does bother me, I wish we did not support it, even before this entire thing blew up. Coworkers and I discussed how bad SOPA is for the Internet, even for GoDaddy.
I do not feel responsible, or feel some need to quit. The public pressure that's occurring will have us change our minds on SOPA, even though many redditors and twitters (how do you say people who use twitter? heh) disagree. Some are saying that GoDaddy hasn't reversed its position on SOPA, but getting the official Congressional stance change takes a bit of time, especially when everyone is on holiday.
Plus, I need to support my family, and looking for jobs is not on my to-do list now.
Q: Exactly how bad has the company been affected by everyone switching domains due to GoDaddy's support of SOPA? Do you think that GoDaddy will be able to recover from this? (arblargan)
A: 1) Our stance on SOPA has changed, directly due to popular outcry. I have posted on why people think that GoDaddy hasn't really changed their Congressional opinion, but the short answer to that is it takes some time.
2) Financially, I don't think GoDaddy is going to crash and burn like some are hoping for. We have too many services and products that are not domains. Even then, we don't make a ton of money off of domain names. Transferring domains certainly makes a statement, but the financial impact isn't as big as you would imagine.
Also, keep in mind that Reddit users and Twitter users are a small, vocal minority in the Internet.