Go Daddy CEO takes flak for shooting elephant

'Scummiest' CEO raises company image with bad publicity

The same blunt, provocative sensibilities that made the tech world jiggle with its sexed-up marketing and made a domain registration company a media star for the first (and only) time ever, has gotten the CEO and founder of Go Daddy! in trouble again.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals invented and awarded former Marine Bob Parsons the "Scummiest CEO of the Year Award" for a video he posted of him shooting elephants in Zimbabwe.

The video of Parsons shooting an elephant, posted on Go Daddy’s Video.me personal-blog service, on which Parsons has keeps his own personal blog, is from what Parsons describes as an annual trip to Zimbabwe to hunt “problem elephants.”

Parsons says hunting “problem” elephants that destroy crops and threaten is done under by permit of local authorities and that the meat and ivory go to local tribal authorities.

Other options to deal with problem elephants are less efficient, more expensive and don’t benefit the local people by giving them elephant meat to eat, he wrote in response to angry comments on his blog, though many commenters were supportive.

“Any idea what it takes to relocate an angry 5 ton elephant?” he asked in one response. “I wonder, how big of a check are you willing to write to help get this done? So far, PETA has stepped up with nothing to help the situation,” he wrote.

“Bob Parsons, CEO of Go Daddy, is so heinous that we created an award just for him: the Scummiest CEO of the Year Award,” the PETA announcement said at the top of the announcement that also listed arguments against any hunting of elephants, linking to arguments against the hunting of any animal.

“PETA is canceling our account with Go Daddy and taking our domain-name business elsewhere—and we're asking everyone to do the same,” it concluded.

Elephant attacks are a problem in both India and Africa – one that is increasing as human settlements encroach on territory in which elephants live wild. Hunting is considered a legitimate approach, within limits.

The motivation for most hunts for elephant and other big game is commercial, however, run by safari companies working with local authorities to bring in tourist dollars, not primarily to preserve wildlife.

Most companies hate the kind of negative publicity Parsons attracts, especially when it is thought to be putting itself up for sale for as much as $1 billion.

Go Daddy just uses Parsons’ ability to generate controversy and rough-hewn persona to raise its profile even more.

Many of those commenting on Parsons’ blog did promise to cancel their accounts, but their numbers probably won’t make much of a dent.

The private company reportedly brings in more than $800 million in revenue, holds more than 40 million domain names and registers half of all the new domains registered in the world.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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