This week, Gabe Mays, head of the WordPress initiative at GoDaddy took over ManageWP’s AMA. While serving as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, Mays learned the ins and outs of WordPress from a tent in Afghanistan with limited internet connectivity on an old $300 duct-taped laptop.
While creating a startup, Mays met Jeff King, SVP of Hosting at GoDaddy through connections in the startup world. Mays was skeptical of GoDaddy’s entrance to WordPress until he met the new leadership team who simply “got it.” After performing a product demo for them, he stayed in contact for the next two years until his startup missed the opportunity to become a dominant player in the field. His wife joined the Blue Angels, prompting her to travel extensively and inspired Mays to try something new with his career — lead WordPress for GoDaddy.
As you can imagine, most of the questions that rolled in were about integrating into the WordPress community, and more.
Here are the five takeaways:
Tons of thought goes into acquisitions.
Many factors affect the way GoDaddy builds partnerships. Mays begins by asking the question, “Does this partnership compliment each other?”
“For partnership, there must be a clear vision of how the companies can complement each other long-term. This is especially true for things that aren’t part of our core competency and don’t make sense to build or buy as part of our business,” said Mays.
Also, he will ask, “Do certain companies do something better than GoDaddy?” and “Do they have a special team that can add value to our company?”
“Above all, the key question for me is: does 1 + 1 = 3? Can we do things together that neither of us can do alone and couldn’t be achieved through a partnership? Synergy is key,” he said.
WordPress growth is dependent on investments from more companies.
When asked what the biggest challenge for WordPress growth is, Mays said more companies need to invest in WordPress.
“There are some key things that need to change for some of the larger WordPress companies to invest more,” he said.
Mays also mentioned he was excited about the new core release process Mullenweg mentioned at WordCamp US in Philadelphia last weekend. He agrees it’s a step in the right direction to stay relevant in the future.
The term hosting is out of date.
Mays vision for the future of WordPress hosting is to become more complicated and said the word hosting will change to web services or cloud services.
“On the low end we’re seeing site builders and at the high-end we’re seeing modularization and anything you need on demand with AWS,” he said. “Companies will have to diversify and become more flexible to remain relevant as basic ‘Managed WordPress hosting’ increasingly becomes a commoditized and giants like AWS simplify their offerings,” he said.
GoDaddy is furiously working on moving past PHP 5.4.
Mays explained that the company’s previous caching solution didn’t support anything above PHP 5.4, forcing them to upgrade.
Mays said, “We opted to add a new Redis tier to our stack for object caching. This required ordering a significant amount of new hardware for all our datacenters around the world, which took significantly longer than expected.”
So far GoDaddy has completed the rollout of Redis and PHP 5.6 to two-thirds of their data centers and will complete the project after taking a break to complete the rollout of WordPress 4.7.
Mays consumes large amounts of pizza, cheeseburgers, and Coca-Cola.
This is a question from Jeff King, who isn’t afraid to ask something controversial.
“As a Marine, when you see a threat you neutralize it. There’s no greater threat than a pizza or cheeseburger in the open, so I’m just doing my part in making this world a better place.”