The elite club of tech billionaires is about to get another member. Bob Parsons, founder and leader of domain registrar GoDaddy.com, has put his baby on the auction block for $1 billion or more, according to The Wall Street Journal. Since he's the sole owner of the business today, a deal like that will make him a very rich man.
Private equity firms are seen as prime candidates to buy GoDaddy because it's a cash cow that doesn't need an exit strategy. While that makes sense, I can see a bidding war erupting between several established e-business players who could use the company's services:
(Nasdaq: GOOG)certainly has the cash required to make a deal, and a side business like this would take pressure off the online advertising arm as the provider of Big G's sales and profits. Moreover, Google is no stranger to providing nuts-and-bolts services to the world of online business, and GoDaddy would fit neatly in that fold.
(Nasdaq: AMZN)would be happy to fold GoDaddy into its burgeoning Web services operations, bringing that business one step closer to becoming more important than Amazon's e-tailing storefronts. GoDaddy's advisor on this proposed sale happens to be Frank Quattrone's Qatalyst Partners, which took Amazon public way back in the 1990s. Could that time-honored connection shorten the path between the two companies?
- If Cisco Systems
(Nasdaq: CSCO)doesn't drop a bid in the hat, I'll be flabbergasted. Domain registration services are a natural fit for Cisco's market-leading network hardware business, and the company is getting into software and services with increasing verve.
Those are my prime candidates. Dark horses would include other acquisition-happy technology conglomerates with an open-wallet policy toward securing growth opportunities: Oracle
GoDaddy filed for an IPO back in 2006 but pulled back because of shaky market conditions -- and the company didn't need the money. Whoever snags GoDaddy in this alternative endgame will get a proven cash machine with a dominant position in the always required business of managing Internet domain names.
Who will take GoDaddy home after the big dance? Discuss the options in the comments section below.
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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Amazon.com is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor choice. The Fool has written calls (bull call spread) on Cisco Systems. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Google, International Business Machines, Microsoft, and Oracle. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.