Speaker Profile: Richard Merdinger

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Richard Merdinger
Vice President, Domains — GoDaddy


FAST FACTS

Session Name: Head to Head: Comparing Domain Registrars
Location: Iowa City, IA
Number of years in the domain industry: 19 Years
Domain name you wished you owned: merdinger.com
Now reading: Moby Dick
Best city for conferences: Singapore
Your mentor: Bob Parsons

Q&A

Describe your company and how long you have been there?

GoDaddy was a bit of a unicorn in the domain naming space. It started out to "do something on the Internet" and ended up transforming how online identities and presences are viewed, acquired, provisioned and used. I've been with GoDaddy for 13 years; I started with GoDaddy in 1997, but had a 6-year hiatus outside the industry.

 

What can attendees look forward to during your session?

An open discussion of not only how GoDaddy is a top tier registrar, but also how all registrars need to provide more than just good pricing and name suggestion to be truly successful and thrive in today's marketplace.

 

What can attendees do in order to prepare for your session? Are there any questions or scenarios they should consider in advance?

Come prepared to discuss not only how one registrar compares to another, but what they are looking for in terms of service from a registrar. I'm coming as much to gain take-aways as I am to share about our services.

 

What would you like attendees to learn or take away from your session?

That registrars exist within a complex ecosystem of laws, policies, differing commercial models, and an increasing number of partners, suppliers and competitors. Registrars that have a deep understanding of this can effectively provide services where "all boats rise with the tide." Registrars who solely strive to serve their own interests will ultimately underserve their customers and registrants.

 

Can you tell us about how your service or product helps deliver value to your customers?

GoDaddy is rightfully known for its uncommon level of customer service. This goes beyond providing 24/7 phone support, and extends to efforts around inter-registrar cooperation on the security of names and working with registries to develop industry best practices. GoDaddy is about a lot more than just "inexpensive names" and "Television Commercials." It's about a focus on the end customer achieving their version of success.

 

What are your thoughts on the new TLDs? 

New TLDs, those from the recent round of new gTLDs, as well as the introduction of IDN Variants and some new top level ccTLDs are not necessarily living up to their potential in terms of customer awareness or perceived value. I believe that this is a reversible situation and that awareness is beginning to occur. In many cases, too much great inventory is sitting in high-priced premiums or in the reserved registry inventory. We need to make these names available at reasonable prices for customers to adopt them and get them broadly in the public's view.

 

What kinds of changes do you foresee within the industry in the five years? 

I think we will see consolidation in the registry market, where some smaller TLDs will need to be part of larger portfolios to be economically viable. I further expect to see higher quality inventory made more available at reasonable prices as registries begin to understand the compounding value of a renewal business over one that focuses on maximizing value through the initial registration of premium inventory.

 

What are you most looking forward to at the upcoming NamesCon?

The conversations with the attendees, hands down. NamesCon is a unique venue to get face time with many of our partners and customers. The perspective this provides is invaluable.

 

What's something most people don't know about you?

I was the 3rd employee at GoDaddy.

 

How did you get your start in the industry?

I came from Parsons Technology to GoDaddy (Jomax Technologies) as the first technical employee in 1997. We started with the idea of "doing something on the Internet" and soon became a dial-up ISP and hosting provider. With the changes at Network Solutions, becoming a registrar was the next logical move.

 

What advice can you offer those who are just getting their start in the domain industry?

Disruption and innovation are related but not synonymous —  sometimes disruption is just disruptive. We are in a time of great evolution in our industry with the introduction of new products, new allocation mechanisms, entry into new markets and more flexible fee structures. As innovations are being introduced, one must be aware of the ecosystem into which they are expected to thrive, or chaos can ensue.

 

How does your career compare to what you envisioned in your youth?

Working with GoDaddy in the domain space has afforded me an opportunity to experience and influence the Internet space in ways I didn't even know were possible. I'm pretty much living the dream. :)

 

How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?

I work to help make sure that people are able to establish meaningful and effective online presences at the world's largest domain name registrar.

 

If you had fifteen extra minutes each day, what would you do with them? 

15 minutes more of the same.

 

Greatest accomplishment in your career?

Identifying the need to sell domain names and getting GoDaddy ICANN accredited in 1999.


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