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Should Web Hosting Companies Really Be Courting Controversy?

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Everyone needs a Web site, correct? And having a competent web host is essential, right? Do we really need to concern ourselves with the fact that the CEO of one of the best known web hosting companies feels the need to protect farmers in Zimbabwe from rogue elephants?

It's been all over the news how GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons shot and killed an elephant in Zimbabwe in order to protect farmers from losing crops to grazing herds. Of course, Parsons couldn't resist posting a photo and a short video of his conquest on his video blog (a "vlog" as he calls it), to draw attention to himself. Parsons is no stranger to controversy, and his actions caught the attention of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which lead to a showdown on CNN, along with a call for a boycott of GoDaddy's services.

Parsons, a Vietnam veteran with an outsize personality, has turned GoDaddy into the best known domain and web hosting source on the Internet. It's become a sort of "Hooters" establishment where ordinary people can buy domains, build and have their Web sites hosted. He's been extremely successful and very visible in an arena that is usually very invisible. Parsons has made being a geek cool, depicting his brand with "GoDaddy Girls", a NASCAR sponsored car and outrageous Super Bowl ads. But, does he really need to be this outlandish to get the job done?

The ego of a successful individual can often grow at an exponential rate. There comes a point when that individual begins to feel so invincible that they want to live every minute of their life for the benefit of their blog readers and Twitter followers. In some cases, that might not be such a good idea. If Bob Parsons wants to indulge his machismo by participating in a big game hunt, that's fine. He doesn't need to disguise it as a humanitarian effort to feed the hungry in a famine-ravaged African nation. If he wants to post inspirational videos with scantily glad girls on his "vlog", he's more than entitled. Some of them are actually quite amusing. Crossing the line the way he did not only amounted to a significant PR blunder, it cost him business. Is it any wonder why we've never seen Steve Jobs on safari?

Anyone who's anyone knows that every move you make can come back to bite you. Publicizing questionable behaviour is never a good idea in this information age we live in. E-mails, videos, Tweets, Facebook postings all become part of the great electronic void as soon as you hit "send". It's something we all have to remember whether we're just walking the dog, or contemplating shooting animals that are in danger of becoming extinct. If you don't think it will be well received, don't write about it, take pictures of it, or film it. Bob Parsons is now learning that lesson the hard way.

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