I worked at GoDaddy for 2 years. I also have many friends that work there (some who have worked there close to a decade) and I know the inner workings pretty well. My take on the company as a whole is that it is run pretty well for such a large company. It is run like a small business. They keep all of their support free and domestic while many large companies either charge for support (Microsoft) or ship it overseas (DELL) or both!
I have to respect and support that GoDaddy values customer satisfaction so highly. The company I currently work for is the only one I've encountered (aside from Zappos) that works even harder than GoDaddy at providing excellent support. Calls are QA'd by seasoned staff and they have ways of measuring and rewarding good performance.
Aside from the antics of the CEO and the controversial and tacky advertisements, I have always had generally good feelings about the company. Their web interface can be admittedly frustrating to say the least (until you spend a few weeks training on it for customer support purposes), but it's all done in-house. Some people find it easier to use than any other thing they have tried. To each his own on that. The checkout screen does try to up-sell you things annoyingly, but that's probably what made the company so successful. In spite of these things, the service is cheap, reliable, and good.
GoDaddy is a one-stop-shop for everything you need for your online presence. It's the Wal-Mart of domains and hosting - without all the outsourcing and bad juju. It's the largest domain and hosting provider bar none, and as the largest it is prone to attack and scandal.
This brings us to SOPA - the Stop Online Piracy Act, as you're I'm sure well aware, is bad news for the internet. The language in it has caused a huge stir in the online community over what it means in what-if scenarios and because it puts the US on a short list of countries that censor the internet.
It's not just a bunch of people illegally downloading the latest GaGa album complaining - it's seemingly the bulk of internet users who oppose it. Companies like Viacom, Sony, Comcast, and Disney are among financial contributors to SOPA (to the tune of over a million dollars) because they want to protect their cash flow and cling to old school distribution and revenue models.
GoDaddy added their name to a list of companies that backed SOPA back in November because as a company, GoDaddy always sides with the copyright holder. One of the few positions GoDaddy takes is that they are against theft and piracy and try to protect copyright. I found this out the hard way when my server was shut down because a newsfeed website on it was accidentally set to automatically pull full articles from other sources rather than just the headlines and linking back to the source.
When I discovered GoDaddy was supporting SOPA, I was quite upset and angry and wanted to pull my domains out and move my hosting away, but I wanted to get some inside info and research more. Soon after this, they retracted their stance on SOPA and said they no longer support it.
This didn't stop the internet from roasting GoDaddy for ever supporting it in the first place. Reddit seemed to be nothing but post after post of anti-GoDaddy slander. Many competitor domain registrars advertised transfer deals with anti-SOPA and anti-GoDaddy messages. NameCheap has been the most vocal about it, but they are barely even a real registrar - they started out as an eNom reseller. They also made up lies about GoDaddy blocking transfers - this was absolutely false, but it still made it all over the news online.
The fact is, NameCheap never contacted GoDaddy to get their IP addresses whitelisted for WhoIs lookups. This "slowed down" the transfer process. This also makes NameCheap look like a bunch of idiots - but only to the few people who know the truth. The "news" is already out there. The mud hath been slung.
I know how transfers work because I assisted with them daily for 2 years. They take about a week when transferring from one registrar to another typically. By law, a losing registrar has the right to hold a domain transfer for a week to give the registrant (domain owner) the opportunity to change their mind. Because they can, most registrars do.
GoDaddy is one of the few registrars that actually gives the option of transferring the domain immediately once you've completed all the steps when you're transferring your domain away. In fact, in my years there, I never encountered another registrar that allowed an instant transfer and they always took a week.
Today is supposed to be the day everyone transfers their domains away from GoDaddy. Most sites that have been tracking the number of domains GoDaddy loses over this are completely inaccurate since they are only tracking nameserver changes. Half the time when you transfer a domain, the nameservers don't even change. Also, people buying new domains will change the nameservers to cash park them or point them to their own server.
The annoying thing about the exodus is that people are just doing it because it's easier to move domains than it is to stop watching ESPN or cancel your cable and internet or stop using your computer (both Apple and Microsoft supported SOPA and perhaps still do). It's the protest for the lazy American.
Even now that GoDaddy no longer supports SOPA, people are still talking about leaving because they are flipflopping. I mean, you get what you want and you still punish GoDaddy? I don't get that. Warren Adelman took over as CEO the week this exploded - poor guy. I've met both him and Bob Parsons (and many other higher up in the company). None of them have some evil aura about them. I think people should calm down.
GoDaddy doesn't stand to gain anything if SOPA passes. Many articles online claim that GoDaddy helped draft part of it. I haven't seen any proof of this, but I know that companies like this seldom act as anything more than advisory - providing information to the legislators that draft these things. GoDaddy simply requested that their main nameserver (domaincontrol.com) be exempt from any blockage that would come about should SOPA become a reality.
This was to protect their scores of customers and to keep half the internet from being blocked because someone posts a Metallica bootleg on their GoDaddy hosted blog and Lars sues him.
After more investigation and in light of the backlash, GoDaddy removed their support of SOPA and called for it to be better written. They maintained their position on copyright and intellectual property protection, but recognized the negative impact SOPA could have. I'm really happy they retracted their support of both SOPA and PIPA (Protect IP Act - also awful).
I have to believe that they were merely distracted by the change of CEO (after a decade), the annual Christmas party, the new investors, and the busiest time of the year for them. People need to give GoDaddy a break. Some really great people work there, and not a single one of them individually would agree with SOPA or PIPA. I'm keeping my 100+ domains and all my hosting and email with them. I'm a firm believer in voting and voicing my opinions with my money. I will leave if they ever do me harm or provide bad service.
Here is a link to their official stance on both SOPA and PIPA if you care to read: http://www.godaddy.com/NewsCenter/releases.aspx?ci=50929