Officially launching February 8, GoDaddy has created The Hub by GoDaddy Pro (“The Hub”), a reimagining of GoDaddy Pro, what it means for WordPress on GoDaddy, and expanding upon an outreach to open source that began with the acquisition of ManageWP in 2016. For almost 10 years (2009-2018), Mendel Kurland was a huge influence in advocating internally and externally a WordPress world that included GoDaddy. For much of that time GoDaddy was trying to get out of the shadow of suspect public relations, advertising, and lack of open source focus.
Times have certainly changed! I can remember very similarly how Microsoft was seen as a bully, bogeyman, and stifler of innovation. Now you can launch all flavors of open source products on Microsoft Azure. CEO Satya Nadella made it clear that cloud and Azure would be the future of Microsoft and I see GoDaddy making the same changes in direction.
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A Little History
It really began for me with GoDaddy Pro. I recalled the acquisition of ManageWP and found it very interesting at the time. Baby steps. Since then a number of WordPress tools have been incorporated as part of the GoDaddy Pro offering. Most importantly, a very consistent and strong outreach program being led by Adam Warner has broken down the us-vs-them wall. The field marketing team has been patient, advocated gently, and listened – A LOT.
Since 2016 GoDaddy Pro has been active at almost every WordCamp that I can think of – continuing their support in 2020 of many virtual events. They have volunteered as well as spoken at many of these event over the last four plus years. GoDaddy has hired WordPress contributors, and participates in the Five for the Future WordPress. In 2020 they created their own series of meetups GoDaddy Pro Events.
Events was just the beginning of a much bigger plan. GoDaddy Pro is now the first official sub-brand of GoDaddy, with the ManageWP kickstart it has taken on a completely new persona. There are plenty of other acquired brands within GoDaddy but they live in their own silos for the most part, examples included Media Temple and Sucuri. GoDaddy Pro is truly unique in its new position within greater GoDaddy, really showing an ever deepening commitment by GoDaddy. And then in March of 2020, the planning for The Hub began.
The Hub by GoDaddy Pro
In an hour long conversation with Adam Warner, Global Field Marketing Sr. Manager, we walked through a bit of the history outlined above as well as what The Hub means for the future of WordPress and GoDaddy. What struck me most was not just Adam’s long-time open source passion but his description of a team that was committed to providing the best user experience for what GoDaddy Pro calls WD&Ds (Website Designers and Developers). The focus is similar to what other companies call “web pros.” Of course not to be confused with the corporate entity WebPros which comprises cPanel, Plesk, SolusVM, WHMCS, and XOVI.
Critically important, The Hub is envisioned not as a suite of tools and lead funnels for GoDaddy’s core services of domain names and hosting. Of course that is a by-product, but this is an “empowerment first” solution for client management. From the official copy, it’s meant to be “an integrated experience with tools, project management features, and expert support.” Which ties in nicely with the GoDaddy Pro sub-brand promise, “Empowering Makers of the Web to efficiently deliver results.” The Hub is supposed to be the culmination of people caring about open source and removing the idea of a corporate monolith working against independent and free-lance developers.
There’s a lot of talk of empowerment, advocacy, and support, and today we don’t yet know how effective this will be. Obviously GoDaddy has staked a lot of resources into this. The leadership and extended teams will have a lot on their plates with The Hub this year.
The Hub Details
The Hub has been in double-secret-private-beta for a while and while ready to launch it is in a subset of original Pro (“legacy Pro”) features but with an expanded community. The Hub will actually run simultaneously/concurrently with the existing GoDaddy Pro. How you’ll get to The Hub is also interesting and requires a bit of a flowchart.
Existing GoDaddy Pro Users:
- You may or may not see an invite to join The Hub based on how you utilize Pro,
- You can however just go to hub.godaddy.com and be presented with an option change Pro to The Hub (which eventually will all turn into Pro but that’s a marketing issue for another day),
- You can always revert back to Pro while Pro and The Hub are both active;
New GoDaddy Pro Users:
- If you self identify as a GoDaddy Pro in the main menu, you’ll get The Hub to start,
- You’ll still be able to revert to Pro.
Much of the functionality will be similar to the legacy Pro feature set of managing all WordPress sites from one place (as well as not GoDaddy hosted), account delegation, and prioritized support. The Hub dashboard page sums up all the features.
I find The Hub’s interface cleaner and more user friendly, frankly not as “techie.” Which is probably exactly what the GoDaddy Pro team is hoping to hear and accomplish. It’s interesting to jump back and forth with whatever existing sites and clients you may have and see the differences. Again there are definitely features that are not complete. The Hub is focusing on putting the project experience first and foremost as the reason to be there. Throughout 2021 The Hub will reach feature parity with Pro, and when that occurs The Hub will be “legacy Pro” will be The Hub. Yup, it’s still confusing there, but in the meantime you certainly have a big runway to get a handle on The Hub.
Heck it’s not even speculation these days. The push for traditional hosting providers to create a unique spin on ever more commoditized infrastructure services is in full swing. We’ve seen this with WordPress.com most recently but there are plenty of others who are if not already in a soft-beta, are in active planning. GoDaddy Pro is taking a broad base of web folk and focusing on those WD&Ds. It’s a good place to be and definitely more scalable than Automattic’s builder program. Let’s not forget that GoDaddy has immense resources to grow this segment, but also pivot if demand and needs change. They are really concentrating on the needs of the WD&D – that this offering was developed and built by and for web designers and developers.