Letter to Steven Aldrich of Outright, re: GoDaddy Acquisition

This the text of an email I sent to the CEO of Outright, a financial tracking service I’ve been using for a few months, on learning they’d been acquired by GoDaddy. Not strictly coding related; but I thought since it concerns a Rails-using startup, and since some of you have shown interest in the business side of what I do, I’d share it here. I’ll try to make up for this with a nice juicy coding post ASAP :-)

UPDATE: I’ve added a reply from Steven below.


This is really upsetting news. I recently completed an evaluation of several small-business financial tracking services. After Outright worked with me to to resolve some of my initial issues, I chose outright and set up a paid account. I love the easy-to-use Outright UI, the great integrations with other services like Freshbooks, and the fact that it not only imports from Paypal, but can actually track Paypal fees associated with each purchase.

GoDaddy is a company associated with:

  • Moral cowardice for kowtowing to the entertainment lobby against their own users, then poo-pooing the outcry and only flip-flopping when it became clear they were losing real money
  • Poor customer service according to everyone I’ve heard from who has dealt with them.
  • Overall scamminess in basing their business model on a myriad upsells
  • Misogyny in advertising. I’m not against sex in advertising, but GoDaddy takes it to an extreme of objectification with ads which say nothing about the actual service and simply try to distract potential buyers with a pair of boobs.

You can tell me that GoDaddy is changing, but public face is not the same as corporate culture, and corporate culture rarely makes radical shifts. Perhaps in a few years I’ll be ready to accept a new, improved GoDaddy; but as of right now I have no reason to believe that any changes I see are more than superficial responses to some public embarrassments.

As a small business owner:

  • I don’t want my money going to a company like GoDaddy;
  • I don’t want to entrust my financial data to a company like GoDaddy; and
  • I don’t want to be associated in any way with a company like GoDadddy

But there’s another, and perhaps larger concern. As a software developer heavily exposed to startup culture, an acquisition like this rings an alarm bell in my head. Forgive me, but what it suggests is this: the founders are done with Outright; they are cashing out and moving on. I’m not saying all acquisitions are bad; but when it’s a company like GoDaddy doing the acquiring, that says “cash-out” to me. And I don’t want to commit to [yet another]  service that slowly dies on the corporate vine as its new owners try to figure out how to milk it for profits.

I’ll be giving some thought to what this means for me, but it almost certainly means I’ll be cancelling my paid Outright account and looking for a service to replace it. I”ll also be sharing this letter with my followers on Twitter, etc., since I’ve shared my search for a financial tracking service (and my happiness with @outright!) with them up til now, and many of them have shown interest in my findings.


Avdi Grimm

UPDATE: Here’s the reply from Steven Aldrich:

Here are my thoughts:

Outright is still the same product run by the same team.  We’re going to grow the resources focused on making Outright even better and working with Go Daddy will allow us to help many, many more small businesses.

We have learned in our discussions with Go Daddy that they are going through some big changes. The company has new investors, changed leadership, and is repositioning the brand.  The company is about to launch a new advertising campaign that bridges the past image to the future vision (a piece in the NY Times and a piece in Business Week on the beginning of the branding changes).

When the new CEO took over in December, the first thing he did was acknowledge their mistake on SOPA and wound up opposing it.

Thousands of employees go to work there everyday with a focus on creating a great customer experience … I’ve talked with both the employees and customers to know that they do a good job much of the time.  I’m joining the management team to help them get better from here.

I hope you would reconsider and stay on as a customer and I’d be happy to talk with you live.