Bob Parsons, B.S. '75, D.H.L. '08, founder and executive chairman of Go Daddy, has made a $1 million donation to the University of Baltimore to establish a new professorship specializing in digital communication—a burgeoning field that brings together computer science, graphic design, entrepreneurship and related skills across several sectors of the 21st century global economy.
In addition to the professorship, Parsons will provide lectures, either on campus or in a virtual environment, to share his expertise in the areas of digital life, online marketing and entrepreneurship. Parsons is credited with providing leadership for Go Daddy's marketing strategies, including its Super Bowl ad campaigns that helped catapult Go Daddy to its world-leading position with Web hosting and domain names. The first lecture is set to occur at UB in the fall.
"The Internet is the 'heart of the new economy,'" Parsons said. "The idea behind our digital communication course is to provide real life lessons … to give students the benefit of what I've learned in business over the years. There is so much potential for entrepreneurs online right now. As far as my upcoming lecture, it's safe to think it will be unlike any lecture these students have heard in a classroom," Parsons laughed.
"The Bob 'Go Daddy' Parsons Professorship of Digital Communication, Commerce and Culture will be an integral part of UB's focus on preparing students for success in the digital age," said UB President Robert L. Bogomolny. "I especially appreciate Bob's willingness to share his considerable knowledge with our students. There's no doubt he'll be a great lecturer."
Sean Carton, was recently named to the professorship. Carton also serves as director of UB's Center for Digital Communication, Commerce and Culture, a hub for student and faculty activities in digital design, communication, research, culture and entrepreneurship.
Parsons, a Baltimore native, is a legendary figure among his fellow entrepreneurs, in part because of the way he decided his future. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam—where he was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and a Purple Heart Medal for his service—Parsons decided to attend the University of Baltimore, realizing the local Bethlehem Steel mill was not the life he wanted. He chose his major, accounting, because it was the first program that showed up in the University's course catalog and because he was good at math. A focused and motivated college student, Parsons graduated magna cum laude.
A classic "early adopter" of new technology, Parsons taught himself computer programming in the late 1970s while working on the accounting component of a leasing company. He began using computers in his accounting business, and then started his own software business, Parsons Technology, in his basement. He later sold the company to Intuit. In 1997, he created the company now known as GoDaddy.com. The company is an innovative, game-changing performer that has empowered millions of users to start their own websites, e-businesses and Web-based innovations. In 2011, Parsons sold a portion of the company and now serves as Go Daddy's executive chairman.
Parsons also is known for his generosity, both with his 3,300 employees and with charities worldwide. Go Daddy has donated millions to charitable causes. Parsons and his wife Renee recently founded their own charity organization, The Parsons Foundation.
Parsons was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Baltimore in 2008 and continues to break new ground on the Internet with his highly touted video blog, www.BobParsons.me, which he uses to help aspiring entrepreneurs. Parsons also received the 2010 University of Baltimore Distinguished Entrepreneur Award.