Two extremely popular Internet services companies top the list of companies of the latter. HostGator and GoDaddy.
I started out with HostGator many, many years ago. I had an absolute horror of a nightmare with them. The story is for a different day, but in short, imagine if your website and e-mail were suspended during the middle of the night due to high usage without any explanation of what, specifically, had high usage, inability to access server logs to track down the problem and no recourse except to start paying for a monthly plan five times more expensive. Their CEO was in on the conversation thread and was unapologetic that my little blog in 2007 when no one read it was too popular for them to handle, but in the end, I was offline for three days—e-mail included.
I stuck it out with them for awhile.
I used to have all of my domain names registered with GoDaddy. Previously, I had a single domain (brandonkraft.com) that, because I didn’t know any better, registered with the original registrar, Network Solutions, which was expensive by comparison. When I started picking up more domains, GoDaddy was the default that everyone mentioned. I’ve heard horror stories, but thankfully, never experienced my own.
I stuck it out with them for awhile.
I left both companies, in the end, not due to their customer support, the quality of their services or anything else related to anything to do with their actual business.
I left both because of the personality of the business embodied in the CEO.
HostGator’s CEO pulled a stunt in 2007 after the company moved to Houston to have himself and some of their employees act as homeless people for a few hours. That was enough to push me off. I stayed with the company through a three-day outage, but their CEO blogging on the company blog about him and a few employees being “bums” for a few hours was too far for me. I pulled my website, the University Catholic Center’s website and a couple of other clients off their services as soon as possible. We moved to Nexcess and are still very, very pleased.
GoDaddy… Just look at their Super Bowl ads. One showed their female spokesmen body painting another, mentioning at the end how they missed a few spots followed with something like “See the unrated conclusion online!”. The other one I saw was the old “heaven is like a room full of underwear models” ploy, which also ended with the “see the unrated conclusion!”.
Their CEO took fire for going on an African trip that included shooting elephants and the company as a whole took intense heat for support SOPA, which led to tens of thousands of domains being transferred away from their services.
I left GoDaddy sometime ago and ended up starting my own reseller registrar service, partnered with Tucows (http://domains.brandonkraft.net) primarily as a way to best assist clients while allowing them to have full ownership of their domains while knowing that the profit going to the seller (e.g. me) won’t be used for sexist Super Bowl ads, elephant-killing safaris or Internet-killing legislation.
In both cases, the lack of leadership displayed by these companies is why I decided to terminate my professional relationship with them. Technically, they could have been the best, but it wouldn’t have been enough.
The CEOs might be able to lead a company to be profitable, but are they a leader in society? Are they advancing common good? I don’t need them to go out of their way to do anything besides not do things that make the world worse. Nexcess hasn’t done anything, I’m aware of, that has brought any attention to them beyond their technical services. I’m fine with that. They’re not making the world worse.
When you’re a leader, you’re inviting others to follow you both within your specific realm and as a person. You need to embrace both of those roles and manifest that.
Within the home, if I put food on the table, get the girls bathed every day, put them to sleep on time and, in every physical way, serve their needs, but am a jerk to them or their mother, I’m failing as a father. Within a company, if the balance sheet looks good, but my employees hate me for being a mean, insensitive jerk who drives them into the ground relentlessly until they quit, I’m failing as a business leader.
As consumers, we have to pay attention to the companies we patronize. Sometimes, it is easy. Plenty of people boycotted Taco Bell during their tomato labor issue, but it goes beyond that. What do you believe? Is a company violating what you consider decent? CEOs and leaders are accountable for their actions, but the followers are too.
In conclusion, leadership is a two-way street. Leaders have to be accountable for what they bring to the table and followers/consumers are accountable for who they choose to follow.