How Helping Small Business is Good Business

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Elissa Murphy, Chief Technology Officer and EVP of Cloud at GoDaddy, explains what drew her to the web company

Elissa Murphy was talking with a close friend who owns a small business about how much it would cost to have work done on her company’s website: $750 to copy and paste some basic JavaScript.

Murphy, long a technology leader at companies like Microsoft, Yahoo! and Symantec, knew it shouldn’t cost that much to add some very simple code. That evening, Murphy quickly re-did the company’s website, porting it from another provider using GoDaddy’s user-friendly design and hosting tools, eliminating the $750 cost for her friend.

While it was gratifying to quickly make the improvements for her friend, the impact was more significant than the website. It was about allowing a small business owner to have greater control over her online brand, presence and overall business—and the ability to make changes firsthand with simple GoDaddy tools.

Still, she was hesitant when Blake Irving, GoDaddy’s Chief Executive Officer, first approached her about working at the company a few months after that effort. Murphy didn’t know how big GoDaddy was; she certainly didn’t know it was full of “go-getters.” She had some trepidation, to say the least.

What convinced her to give GoDaddy a chance? Murphy recognized that she could make an impact by radically shifting the global economy toward small businesses—more than 28 million in the U.S. alone—by empowering people to easily start, confidently grow and successfully run their own ventures. Today the company boasts more than 13 million customers worldwide and more than 60 million domain names under management. Murphy also appreciated the opportunity to innovate on the technology stack and put in place large-scale systems like Hadoop for small businesses.

She was hooked, joining GoDaddy in May 2013 as Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of Cloud, with the charter to make the company the best cloud provider for small businesses.


In Good Company

Murphy arrived at GoDaddy with an innate desire to solve problems. She has 15 patents issued, and more than 19 pending, in the areas of distributed systems, cloud, machine learning and security. It’s little wonder that she spends much of her weekends “fiddling with devices.”

Murphy, whose own team numbers approximately 200, also values her colleagues’ aforementioned “go-getter” nature. She describes them as people who are really happy to be at work and excited to be there every day, making an impact for customers.

“Our team is passionate about solving problems for customers,” Murphy said. “We have a really strong customer service organization where we can hear from and talk to customers and find out about their issues. That’s pervasive here.”

“We’re attracting incredible engineering talent to GoDaddy because of our commitment to becoming a technology-driven company that is focused on helping small businesses succeed,” she continued. “Our team is working on cutting-edge open-source technologies across mobile, e-commerce, social and data science that will help reshape how small businesses operate in the future. It’s an incredibly exciting time and very different from the GoDaddy tech stack of the past.”

Empowering Small Businesses

At Yahoo!, Murphy managed the original Hadoop team. She was one of the leaders in high-performance computing at Microsoft, focused on gathering insights from data via novel forms of computation. Now she embraces the opportunity to exercise her big data muscles at GoDaddy, where she works on projects that provide insights to customers to help them execute business decisions more decisively.

“When you’re learning you’re uncomfortable,” said Murphy, who oversees GoDaddy’s technical strategy. “If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re probably not pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.”

“If you look at the areas I’ve chosen over my career, there’s always a high bent on technical innovation and impact. Here at GoDaddy, we’re innovative in that we’re likely to have more data for small business than anyone in the industry,” Murphy said.

That type of insight was once available to only the largest of companies. Murphy’s excited about “democratizing” data access for the owners of very small businesses—those with five or fewer employees—to help them drive insights that make their businesses successful. ♦

Business Relationships: In It For the Long Haul

Murphy describes a memorable growth experience as she recalls meeting with the Chairman of Quarterdeck Corp., a computer software company.

She was up for a promotion at Quarterdeck. But before she could get the promotion, Murphy had to see through this discussion. The grueling interview she had anticipated didn’t happen, rather a meaningful conversation about the Chairman’s management philosophy—namely, you need amazing people with you at every stage of a successful career.

“You realize that the relationships you forge aren’t just for a single point in time,” Murphy said. “They’re actually over the course of your career. That’s why it’s so important to maintain relationships over the course of your career.”

“I still talk to him,” said Murphy, who practices what the former Chairman of Quarterdeck preaches. She has, after all, worked with some members of her GoDaddy team for more than a decade.

Aine Cryts

Writer at Forefront Magazine
Aine (“ONya”) Cryts is a freelance writer for Forefront Magazine. A political scientist by education, she’s a marketing consultant and freelance writer/editor by trade. Aine has served as a marketing director at a number of software companies in the Greater Boston area. A former volunteer tour guide and a current long-distance runner, she loves Boston and is an enduring fan of all of its sports teams.

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