Channel partner programs, CSPs, Small business

GoDaddy Buyout of FreedomVoice: The Channel Strategy

Eric Thomas
Eric Thomas

When GoDaddy acquired FreedomVoice last month, many MSPs and resellers wondered what would become of FreedomVoice's channel strategy.

Many channel partners know FreedomVoice Channel Chief Chris Sterbenc exited the company as part of the deal. But that doesn't spell the end of partnering under GoDaddy's ownership, according to FreedomVoice CEO Eric Thomas.

In an email interview with ChannelE2E, Thomas describes how GoDaddy acquired FreedomVoice, what's next for the cloud PBX and VoIP business, and how channel partners fit into the strategy. Here's the conversation.

ChannelE2E: When did FreedomVoice and GoDaddy begin discussing a potential company acquisition?

Thomas: We’ve been talking to GoDaddy for over a year. The SMB alignment and cultural fit between GoDaddy and FreedomVoice was very evident the first time we met – so much so that I cut my family’s holiday vacation short to conduct a follow-up.

ChannelE2E: What prompted the discussions?

Thomas: GoDaddy’s mission is to help small businesses start, run, and grow and they do loads more than domains. They have professional email, email marketing, web design, web hosting and a lot of services around helping entrepreneurial companies be successful. Voice is a natural extension. Having a telephone number for your business, having a professional auto attendant, being able to dial out from your cell phone using the mobile app or from your desk phone while showing your business phone number to the person you called, and a host of other features, add up to a huge impact.

ChannelE2E: Who will run channel partner programs for FreedomVoice/the telephony business at GoDaddy?

Thomas: I will. I asked to look after the channel because I’m really passionate about it. FreedomVoice started its existence with an agent program, and I’ve always been focused on creating great partnerships and income opportunities for people. This is an opportunity to get back to what I really love to do. In fact, at a higher level, one of the drivers for the deal was the opportunity it creates for the channel both in the short-term and the long-term. In the long-term, it gives us a lot more resources to do things both for the product and for the channel. In the short-term, it gives us a real competitive edge in the marketplace where we’ll be able to bundle products and services that are all critically important to our customers and create a really disruptive offer.

ChannelE2E: Will FreedomVoice/GoDaddy compete with Microsoft's emerging hosted PBX services or is your focus something different?

Thomas: I really like what Microsoft is doing with their hosted PBX, especially the use of setup based on the integration with active directory, but I don’t think we will be competing head-to-head with them. They’re naturally a better fit for organizations that are more in the 250+ user range. Most of our customers are in the sub 50 space. Interestingly, GoDaddy has a very successful partnership with Microsoft today. GoDaddy helps Microsoft deliver Office 365 to very small business (again, think under 50 employees) who GoDaddy is better able to serve.

With that said, I think something that makes us truly unique is the way we look after customers and partners and pride ourselves on providing white glove treatment that small businesses need.

ChannelE2E: What's the message to FreedomVoice channel partners amid the deal?

Thomas: This is good news for everybody. GoDaddy is a really great company. Their people are kind, intelligent, and passionate about supporting their customers and partners. Their vision is to “…radically shift the global economy toward small business by empowering people to easily start, confidently grow and successfully run their own ventures.” And they are fully committed to the success of the partners. I hope you’re all is excited as I am about what this means to you.

ChannelE2E: In terms of this deal and the combination with GoDaddy, what are your key priorities over the next three months  or so?

Thomas: Launching our new bundle offering which should happen very soon. We’ve already talked to a bunch of partners about what should be included and are working hard on the cart to get them ready for launch. I will also be working with partners to create a priority list of things we should be doing to make their lives and their customer’s lives even better. And I’ll be working on the roadmap for new features.

ChannelE2E: Anything else you'd like to mention?

Thomas: We have a lot of great partners that have been on this journey with us for almost 10 years now. Thank you for your loyalty. I’m looking forward to the next 10 great years.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.