WP Curve Get Acquired By Go Daddy

November 15, 2019 |  

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In 2013, Alex McClafferty co-founded WP Curve, a company that provided IT support for people with a WordPress site. 

To read a transcript of this episode, click here.

In 2013, Alex McClafferty co-founded WP Curve, a company that provided IT support for people with a WordPress site. 

McClafferty and his partner stitched together a network of contract support professionals in developing countries and quickly grew the company. They hired a few managers, and by the beginning of 2016, McClafferty was already looking for an exit. 

He wrote his goal down on an index card that hung in his office:

  1. All-cash offer
  2. Sell to a 3rd party

He asked around about what his company might be worth and was disappointed by the initial estimates. Then internet giant GoDaddy approached McClafferty, indicating they wanted to grow their WordPress business and saw WP Curve as a perfect fit. In this episode you’ll discover:

  • The quirky visualization trick McClafferty used to get his employees to provide support customers could understand
  • “Outside In vs. Inside Out” thinking and how it can be the secret to winning the attention of a strategic acquirer
  • What an “attached rate” is and why it’s important to buyers
  • Two surprising reasons big companies buy little ones
  • How to avoid falling victim to the fishing trick
  • The biggest mistake first-time sellers make in dealing with corporate development professionals
  • Why non-linear scale matters

The key to selling to GoDaddy was explaining how WP Curve would scale non-linearly. How about you? What’s the growth potential of your company? Evaluating your options for growing your sales is something we will dig in to together in Module 4 of The Value Builder System – get started by getting your Value Builder Score now.

Our guest

Alex McClafferty co-founded WP Curve and bootstrapped the company from $500 in monthly revenue to a 7 figure annual run rate in eighteen months. In 2016, WP Curve was acquired by GoDaddy, where Alex scaled the team and product. Today, Alex coaches entrepreneurs at Productize.co, travels for fun and loves life.

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Transcript

John Warrillow:                Alex McClafferty is my next guest. He sold WP Curve to GoDaddy, lots of good stuff in this. I loved how Alex used his grandma as a way to educate his team about how to deal with customer support tickets. Listen to the way he describes outside-in versus inside-out thinking. Many of us as entrepreneurs unfortunately think inside out. But to maximize the value of your company, you’re going to want to think outside in. I’ll let Alex describe that.

John Warrillow:                He also does a great job talking about a touch rate, and that will be important to the value of your company, especially if you’re selling to a strategic buyer. There are two really surprising reasons that Alex talks about, why big companies buy little ones. He’ll talk about not falling victim to the fishing trick. The biggest mistake he thinks owners make in dealing with corporate development executives and why non-linear scale matters to the value of your business, here to tell you why is Alex McClafferty. Alex McClafferty, welcome to Built To Sell Radio.

Alex McClaffert:               Hey, John. Thanks for having me.

John Warrillow:                WP Curve. Tell me what you guys did.

Alex McClaffert:               We had a 24/7 WordPress support service that was on subscription. So customers who had WordPress sites, which are… Anyone who has a website and has used WordPress knows that it’s problematic and hard to use. They would break something or something would break on their site. They would email us, and then we would fix the problem for them in usually six to eight hours. So we did that on a recurring basis and it became a sticky and interesting business problem to solve.

John Warrillow:                Fantastic. And so, if I had a WordPress site, I’m putting sneakers online, I’m selling 2002 Air Jordans or whatever. And I can’t figure out how to get my merchant processing tool to plug into my WordPress site. You guys would figure it out for me?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. That’s right. The other things that would often pop up, theme and plug-in conflicts or folks that were afraid of making wholesale changes, the old push the big red button and my website’s going to explode kind of thing, there’s a bit of that here when you’re running on WordPress. So we would help to allay that fear and it was at some level like an insurance policy around your WordPress site. And people seem to get value from it.

John Warrillow:                Yeah, because at the early days of WordPress, it was the kind of Wild West, right? It was this open source… I mean, correct me if I’m wrong. I don’t know much about it. But I seem to recall this sort of an open source platform that anybody could use for free. Wasn’t that the early genesis of WordPress?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah, and it still is open source. What has happened with that then, the market’s absolutely matured, and there’s a bunch of different themes and plug-ins and things that you can buy and spend a bunch of money on. And you can get something that’s really nicely designed. But it’s also super scalable. And so, if you’re running a serious website, WordPress, I think today, powers something like 30% of the internet.

Alex McClaffert:               When we started WP Curve, it was somewhere around like 18 or 20%. So the built-in growth of that market has been astronomical. You’d have to really mess something up I think to do a business like ours and not get some growth out of an upswing in the market like that.

John Warrillow:                The rising tide lifts all boats sort of idea. You charge customers, you said, 60 bucks a month ballpark?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. Anywhere from 60 to 200 bucks a month, and they would get ongoing support. The no-brainer positioning on that was that you’d get unlimited website support. So you could send in as many emails as you wanted and we would fix the problems that you had on your site. But there was also a natural throttle built in, which is typically your site only breaks like once or twice a month. So you probably use this maybe three or four times a month.

John Warrillow:                Was there a reason you chose email as the primary way that you could communicate with WP Curve?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. I have background in the call center. So I know what a call center environment is like. When you’re dealing with people that are upset with their website, there’s inherent frustration. And so, having people on the other end of the phone trying to navigate through the frustration of the problem that they’re dealing with, and also not be able to get very explicit requirements of what needs to be fixed, I felt was going to be a blocker for us to do efficient work. So we just had to get better at asking the right questions of customers to figure out like, “Okay. What does your website look like, and what would you like it to look like?” That’s basically what we’re trying to get at.

Alex McClaffert:               But when you’re pre-launch, you’re running a bunch of paid campaigns to a website and it just goes down, you’re pretty upset. Then it becomes I’d say a bit of a fire drill, and that frustration and energy tends to go somewhere. And in a call center kind of environment, it would probably land on the person answering the phone.

John Warrillow:                So what did you do in those 911 situations where they needed it up and running right away? Was there an escalated phone option, what do you call it, a text-to-chat function in the software?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. We had a couple of things. We had some filters running that would scan for anything that said urgent or site down, and that would automatically go to the top of the priority list. That picked up probably 80%. Then there was also live chat. So if someone was a customer and something broke and it was urgent, we always had someone scanning and keeping an eye out on the in-bound stuff. Then on top of that, like resourcing was super important. So there always needed to be people on deck to be able to fix these problems.

John Warrillow:                How did you find those people? Was it a follow-the-sun strategy where you had people 24 hours in different countries? How did that work?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. We had a good geographical distribution of people. Like early days, I think we started primarily in the Philippines because we knew we could get great talent and we could get great talent for a good price. But I think one of the motivators for expanding and growing the business outside of just the Philippines is some of the geographical risk, which you don’t really think about in the early days.

Alex McClaffert:               For example, if the Philippines had a monsoon rip through, the infrastructure gets taken out. People are without power for a week or two and you’ve got hundreds or thousands of clients that you’re trying to support. Then your business is going to be pretty well backed up. And so, we started to look at different geographies, which included… We had team members in Africa, Costa Rica, Eastern Europe, a couple folks in the US.

John Warrillow:                Were these contractors, Alex, of were they full-time employees of WP Curve?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah, they were contractors. I mean, I had to be very, very careful about how we had them do work, what the terms of the agreement were, how they actually like-

John Warrillow:                What kind of stuff did you lock down?

Alex McClaffert:               There’s an IRS checklist, and I think it’s like 19 or 20 points that define whether your team member is an employee or a contractor. So you can just tell someone they’re a 1099 and you can hope that’s enough. But if someone [crosstalk 00:09:02]-

John Warrillow:                1099, for those outside of America, being the definition of a contractor as opposed to a full-time employee.

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. So there is a checklist that you can go through that stipulates this is how the work is performed, this is how they are paid, this is what their conditions are. And so, I used that as a guideline and a checklist to break down how it was that we worked with these team members, and made sure that all of the paperwork that supported that wasn’t… it was just like we’re going to put you in as a contractor because it saves us money. But it is also we had people that were working on other projects or other companies, or we might have had some part-time people. And so, the flexibility worked well both ways.

John Warrillow:                The downside of contractors, of course, is part of that checklist that you’re describing, is exactly that. They have other clients, and they’ve got to have flexibility over their time. So what did you put in place in the contract to ensure that they did indeed honor the WP Curve clients and did their best efforts for them? Were there two or three things you had to see in that contract to make sure that your customers were being taken care of?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. I think that was more at a cultural or an expectations level. So that was driving things through company values, which is if you engage to perform services for our company, this is what we expect of you. And so this is how we do what we do. I think it was very human.

Alex McClaffert:               One of the things I came up with was if you’re going to be working with someone on their WordPress site, it’s good to imagine that you’re talking to your grandma at the other end of the email. Just imagine that your grandma has no idea what she’s doing with WordPress and you need to step by step walk through and explain what it is that she needs to do. Just that simple framing, like if you learned a few of those kind of things with the folks that are working with you, it sets a nice tone.

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah, there were some unconventional ways of making sure that people did what they needed to do at work through culture and driving those expectations rather than hard and fast, like you are the robot on the production line kind of deal, because no one really wants to work for a company like that.

John Warrillow:                I love the grandma analogy. What else did you guys do to make it clear what customer experience you were trying to create?

Alex McClaffert:               If you go back to the old days of Toyota and Kaiser, and how they had folks on the production like that would fix their own production line, the folks who were doing the work were also expected to make suggestions and implemented fixes for things that were broken. So it wasn’t good enough to just say, “Oh, this isn’t working,” or, “We’re seeing this error pop up again and again,” or, “This business process that we’re using is incomplete.” The expectation was that you needed to contribute to that and fix that because other wise you were just making the problem worse.

Alex McClaffert:               Again, with that level of, I would say, ownership or responsibility over the domain of the work that the contributor was doing, I think it gave everyone a real sense of identity, a real sense of purpose and understanding we’re responsible for the work that we do, and we’re here to make this experience better. And that took a lot of pressure off me frankly because it wasn’t just me trying to figure out how to improve the service. But it was 30 odd people that were working every day at the front line saying, “Oh, this is broken. That’s broken. Here’s what we can do to fix it.”

John Warrillow:                How big did you get this company before you wanted to sell it?

Alex McClaffert:               As far as team members, we had… I think at our peak we had something like 35 or 36 folks, and that was between myself, a co-founder. We had a few people helping with marketing, a couple team leaders, and then the rest of the folks were operational. But the genesis of the sales story is an interesting one because when we talk about this, I’m going to have an arrow that’s landed on the wall, and then I’ve painted a target around it. So it wasn’t as strategic as often…

Alex McClaffert:               You often hear these magical stories of like, “We were actually built to sell,” like we were built to survive and then a sale came knocking on our door. And I had to figure out how to do that.

John Warrillow:                Tell me the story.

Alex McClaffert:               About 18 months into the business, we started to hit some good scale. I had to scale myself out of the business, so it has some team leaders in place to manage the operational side of the business. Then my co-founder Dan, he’s a serial entrepreneur type of guy, always got something new going on. He’d started a new business on the side which was like a brewery. So he does beer brewing. And we were trying to figure out what to do next because neither of us were. We’d hit momentum, hit some runway, and we were feeling pretty good about where we were.

Alex McClaffert:               It was going to be either we sell this thing on the open market, or one of us buys the other out, we look for a strategic acquirer. And so, when I was looking at those options, I was like, “Okay. As far as maximizing the sale value of what we’ve got, I think a strategic is going to be the best bet. But I don’t know how to sell to a strategic. I wouldn’t even know who one would be to buy us. Yeah. This was January of 2016. So I wrote on an index card and I put it next to my monitor. I wanted a sale, an all-cash sale, to a third party. That was what I was wanting for WP Curve by the end of the year. So I wrote that out and I stuck that in front of my monitor, and was my sole focus for the company for the year. Then I just-

John Warrillow:                How much did you want for it?

Alex McClaffert:               I wanted enough where I could I think have breathing room. And to different people, that’s a different amount of money. For me, at the time, I was living in San Francisco. And I think to rent a shoe box there is like two and a half grand a month. And so, cost of living there I think is probably like… relatively speaking, you’ve got to be making at least 120K to get by. That’s not an extravagant last dollar, and then it goes up from there. My goal was to get an exit where, if I needed to take some time off or reinvest into another company, I would have that freedom to do so. The other thing I’ll add-

John Warrillow:                Yeah, right.

Alex McClaffert:               I’ll just say one more thing. There is a bit of a sunk cost when you put a few years of your life into a business like this, because it’s not just three years of eight hours a day trying to figure out how to grow it and build it. It’s three years of probably 12 to 14 hours a day. And then, okay, I’ve built this thing. What do I do with it now?

John Warrillow:                Are you pulling out money along the way, Alex? Are you paying yourself a fair market wage? Or are you pouring everything back into the company?

Alex McClaffert:               I think for the first six months, I didn’t pull a wage. Then over time, my wage graduated in line with the business growth. By, yeah, I think around the twelfth to fifteenth month, I was pulling a livable salary from the company. And the benefits of my co-founder who was based in Australia is that we were being paid in US dollars and he was getting paid in US dollars, and the exchange rate at the time was doing him a lot of favors. He was really happy with how things were going on his end. But yeah, the sale process was a fun one. Everything kicked off in January 2016.

John Warrillow:                Got it. So you got the index card and you’re like, “I want an all-cash third-party offer. I’m assuming you had a number… I mean, you don’t have to tell us. But on the index card, did you an actual number that you wanted to sell for?

Alex McClaffert:               I didn’t, but I knew a multiple that I would be comfortable with.

John Warrillow:                What was the multiple you were looking for?

Alex McClaffert:               If I give you the multiple, that kind of gives away the purchase price, so I have to-

John Warrillow:                I see. So it was a multiple of revenue or a multiple-

Alex McClaffert:               Yes. Of multiple revenue. Okay. I had to back into that too because when I started this process of figuring out, what does the sale actually look like. Of course, my first place, my first stop on this adventure is to go to a business broker. I’ve learned quite a bit about the broking business. And my perspective on it is really that it’s governed by transaction, right? So it’s see how quickly we can transact a business, clear the decks, bring another one into sell because it’s a percentage of sale. And if you can get throughput and if you can get speed and pace as a business broker, then you’ve just got money coming in the door.

Alex McClaffert:               But for a founder, you want to maximize the deal value, and that can take a lot of time. So I went out and got evaluation from a business broker. And I think that was somewhere in the realm of two to three times SDE.

John Warrillow:                SDE stands for Seller’s Discretionary Earnings, which is close to but not exactly pretext profit. So they were saying two, three times SDE?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. I was looking at it and I was like, “Doesn’t quite pass the sniff test, like given the amount of time and effort and energy that we both put into this business, I think we can do a little bit better. I don’t think we’re going to get necessarily a six to eight times annual revenue multiple for what was built. But we’ve got something that scales. We’ve got a good team in place. We’ve got systems and processes that scale. And so, I’m going to keep kicking this can down the road and knocking on doors and see what abounds.

Alex McClaffert:               I actually went and had coffee with Will Shroter. Will Shroter on Startups.com. I think this is just around the time maybe six months after they’d purchased Zirtual which was a virtual assistant on-demand kind of service. I think it had raised a bunch of money, and then there was some financial issues. Then I think it was a bit of fly sale. I think Will picked it up for a really healthy kind of deal, or at least it was like everyone was taken care of in the transaction.

Alex McClaffert:               And so I was talking to him about our company. And I was like, “Look, is this something you guys would be interested in?” And it just wasn’t a fit for where he was at because he was looking to build more of a platform around startups. And so, as I had more and more of these conversations with different people around the valley and people that were in the know, I was like, “Okay. I feel like if we’re going to get a strategic acquisition, it’s going to be through one of the hosting companies, like a WP Engine, a GoDaddy, a Bluehost, one of these guys.

John Warrillow:                Because these are companies that host business’s websites. Why did you think they would be a strategic fit of WP Curve? What was it that you thought they would be interested in?

Alex McClaffert:               Retrospectively, I was very inside out because I was super proud of what I’ve built, right? I’m like, “This is a great company, and we can pour some more gas on marketing, and we can continue to scale. I’m very inside-out. I’m proud of what I’ve built. Going through this process of trying to find a buyer actually forced me to look outside in from that company’s perspective as to why they would even care… Why would they look at a pseudo services business… It’s kind of like a productized service, if you’ve heard this term, which is something that can scale, that’s people-powered, that has some of the benefits of… You’re actually building an asset. Like there a terminal value to the business as well as recurring revenue and it ticks a lot of boxes.

Alex McClaffert:               The best way I could explain that type of model, and I had this in a presentation of YouTube video the other day. I was by the [inaudible 00:20:45] new founder, and he said, “Our clothes are never in fashion, and they’re never out of fashion.” I feel like the same principles apply to this type of model. So I was looking at the model and I was thinking, “Okay. If I’m a host, what do I care about?” If I’m a corp dev team, what do I care about?

Alex McClaffert:               For a business like ours, for a bigger company, it would really be a base hit. What I mean by that is they could purchase this for however many dollars, and they could bolt us onto what they had existing. And then, they could hit the gas and attach us to the existing products and services they sold. And they would be printing money. They would absolutely be printing money by looking at us as a deal.

Alex McClaffert:               That was a little bit disheartening because, again, the inside-out approach is to be like, “I’m so proud of my company. Look how awesome it is.” But that’s a narrow view because if you want to go down the path of selling to a strategic acquirer, it’s helpful to understand what calculations, what things they need to look at on their side too, even just to find that kind of deal to the sea level, or in this case, the board of directors.

John Warrillow:                When you thought of web hosting companies and you started to look at, as you said, in your own words, outside-in, what’s the economics for… Let’s say you have a web-hosting company with 100,000 customers. Just to keep the numbers round and simple. What is the math? What is does the Excel spreadsheet look like that you’re providing to a buyer in terms of what the value proposition for buying WP Curve is?

Alex McClaffert:               They’re really going to look at it on an attach rate. So they’re going to look at it as far as how many existing customers do we have in the space, and then how many customers do we reasonably assume that we can seel this product to. And then what’s-

John Warrillow:                100,000 customers, I’m assuming at 20% attach rate, that’s 20,0000 customers. That kind of idea?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. And then you back that into how profitable can we make this service given it’s got some limitations around being people-powered, like how much efficiency can we drive through this service. And then how quickly can we scale that if we want to turn it on to a huge base.

John Warrillow:                Alex, when did you start WP Curve?

Alex McClaffert:               I’d say it was July 2013. My co-founder kicked it off two weeks before I joined. I read a blog post that he wrote about the company. At that time was called WP Live Ninja and he was selling it at $49 a month. He’d failed with a company working on it for the previous year, and this was like a last ditch attempt to get something to work. And yeah, I commented on a blog post. We went back and forth on these few Skype calls, and I said, “Hey, look. I’ll work with you for three months for free. If we get this thing to get going, then we can start to talk about equity and everything else.

John Warrillow:                Love it. Love it. Over a Skype conversation?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah.

John Warrillow:                The reason I ask about when you started is because you’re really in this, at this point, three to four years, if you will, from startup, right? So you’ve got some contractors in different developing countries. You’ve built some process. But in four years, how much can you really create? I guess where I’m going with this is if I’m one of these big hosting companies, and I’m looking at you guys saying, “Yeah, okay. So these guys have built this in three years. Yeah, we could buy them. But we could also probably just rip off what they’re doing here. We could probably figure out how to hire some people in the Philippines. We could probably figure out how to give them some scraps. Did you have anything proprietary that made acquiring you so much more interesting than setting up and doing what you’d done based on following your lead? Does that make sense?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And these are all questions I had to answer for myself and for the acquirer. So I had to have good answers to these questions, like why wouldn’t we just do it ourselves. There’s a couple of things that I’ve realized with bigger companies that really matter. One of those is speed. So, yes, they could absolutely do it themselves. They could mostly figure it out. There would be bumps in the road, and maybe it would take them four or five quarters to figure out and get something up and going.

Alex McClaffert:               Or, they can have us as an insurance policy where we’ve got everything in place, including all of the work that we’ve done around routing and bringing customers on board and retention and all of these different things, and either bolt us on or figure out, “Okay, this is what has worked in the past. Now let’s look at what scale looks like.”

Alex McClaffert:               I think it was in the first meeting that I took with the GoDaddy team. One of the questions was along the lines of, you’ve got this business today. Can you grow it by 10X? What would it look like at 10X? Would it still even exist? Before going into that meeting, I didn’t really have a good answer to that question. But of course, on the fly, being the entrepreneur, I had to roughly approximate what that would look like. What that meant was just like a heavier investment in technology and automation. So where we would have manual handoff, or where we would have breakpoints in process, it would just gradually more and more get eaten up by something that was more scalable.

Alex McClaffert:               At some level, a bigger company will purchase based on the fact that you’re going to accelerate their roadmap. So we were absolutely accelerating the GoDaddy roadmap by at least a year if not more. But also, the insurance of knowing that they’re bringing in the team that’s done it before. And also, for me, individually, someone that has experience, because I’ve done startups, but I’ve also done corporate. So, I can figure out how to take a startup approach and mindset and knock down some doors within corporate to get this thing really humming at scale.

Alex McClaffert:               It was a completely different experience going into GoDaddy because it wasn’t that I was short of resources of everything else. But actually had to figure out, okay, in the past, what we thought was going to be a big day was just going to be a blip. And now we’re really going to be throwing a lot of customers at this service. What does this look like when we’re really motoring and attaching lots and lots of customers.

Alex McClaffert:               When you’ve got an existing product team that’s working on other products, that’s a problem set that they can’t necessarily focus on. So at some level it’s like we had to be the best in market, and we were mystery shopped. They had people on the team go and try everybody in market and see what they were doing, see if they actually deal with volume and deal with tricky questions and everything else. So the underlying service had to be solid. But they were also buying on the promise that we can do what were doing but start to do it at actual scale.

John Warrillow:                To be clear, when you say you were mystery shopped, does that mean you were mystery shopped by GoDaddy prior to them acquiring as part of their due diligence?

Alex McClaffert:               Yes. Absolutely. And so the proof-

John Warrillow:                Did they tell you they were going to do that?

Alex McClaffert:               No, not at all. And it was funny because one of the guys, Bosen, is based in Africa. He’s a really special guy. He’s one person that absolutely loves being on live chat. He’s probably the only person I’ve ever heard of in my life that loves being on live chat. And both times, GoDaddy came through, they got him on live chat. And so, he did a wonderful job. They got everything taken care of that they needed to get taken care of. They were throwing some pretty tricky stuff at us. We had no idea because we got so much volume coming through. It’s just another customer. But that, to me, was probably one of the more important tests, like can we actually deliver on the promise that we’re making as far as the service that we provide. That was through years and years of trial and tribulation of figuring out what worked and didn’t.

John Warrillow:                Okay. Let me try to summarize where we are in the story so far. You write the index card and you’ve got a sense of how much money you need to give yourself, in your own words, some breathing room. You had this conversation with a broker, they say two to three times SDE. You go, “That’s not going to do it.” You have some conversations with guys like Will and they say, “Really, the strategic value here is selling to one of the web hosting companies, because they’re going attach your offering to their tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of customers.” Am I getting the story generally right so far?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah.

John Warrillow:                Okay. At that point, you’ve had SaaS multiples, Software as a Service multiples of six, seven, eight times revenue. You’ve got the two to three times SDE number rattling around in your mind thinking, “I want to do better than that.” Where are you at this point, when you’re starting to have the conversations with these web hosting companies? What’s your sense of what it’s worth? Again, multiple of EBIDTA, or topline revenue. We haven’t actually revealed what your revenue was, so you could share the ballpark. You think it’s one to two or three times revenue? What are your thoughts?

Alex McClaffert:               I’m thinking it’s anywhere between .25 and 4X revenue. That’s the ballpark that I’m playing within.

John Warrillow:                Wow. That’s a big range. Okay. Tell me about that.

Alex McClaffert:               I only come to this conclusion after seeing the sales… Both the buy and the sell side of some of these deals after the fact, which is that from time you see companies go through an acquisition process. They’ll pop up and they’ll say, “Hey, we’ve been acquired,” like there’s an acquisition that happened. And it wasn’t actually like an in-bound deal. Ours was an in-bound deal where GoDaddy actually reached out to us. So it was by no magical thing that I did. But the timing just so lined up that GoDaddy reached out to us and was interested.

Alex McClaffert:               But for a lot of other companies that have been doing their thing for a couple of years, something will happen internally. The founders will put out a prospectus to the corporate development teams of these bigger companies and say, “Hey, we’re basically up for sale. And if this is an asset that you’d be interested in acquiring, let’s talk.” That happens a lot more than I thought. I didn’t realize that was such a common occurrence.

Alex McClaffert:               That really drives your value down because if you’re going out to the market and saying, “Hey, we’re for sale, then the market’s going to give you what the market will bear, which is usually as little as you will take. When you get an in-bound inquiry and the purchaser is actually interested in what you’re doing, and there’s a confluence of events that lead up to this like with us, which was GoDaddy had a strategic goal that they wanted to accomplish. They were shopping around and looking for the options in market. There were some connections. Like my co-founder knew one of the guys over at GoDaddy. I knew a couple of guys over at GoDaddy, so we had a good reputation.

Alex McClaffert:               These things came together, and the inquiry came in-bound to us. There’s not necessarily to me a really defined absolute process you can take with that apart from being really good at what you do, building the right relationships with stakeholders at different types of businesses you want to eventually be acquired by. But it definitely changes the dynamic of the valuation because if you’re going outbound trying to sell to these companies, good luck getting a good multiple, is all I will say.

John Warrillow:                So you’re thinking it’s anywhere between .25X revenue all the way up to four?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah.

John Warrillow:                Okay. That’s a big range. Help me square something here in my own mind because earlier we were talking about the conversations you were having with guys like Will. You had the index card. You wanted to sell, so that you were on your front foot when it came to selling. That was part of the plan in 2016. Did you come to learn that word got round to GoDaddy that you’d be open to having a conversation? Is that how they approached you? Or was it completely out of the blue? Do you have any sense of that?

Alex McClaffert:               It’s possible. It’s absolutely possible. But I’m not sure. Yeah. I don’t really think so, and maybe that’s the grand mystery of this acquisition. But personally I did not make it happen, or I did not brute force it and figure out a way to get in front of someone and say, “This is what we’ve got, and I’m going to blow you away with this presentation.”

John Warrillow:                But the timing does seem kind of weird, right? You write down the index card and then you happen to get a call out of the blue in the same year. You’ve only been in business three years. GoDaddy is like [inaudible 00:33:52] web hosting companies.

Alex McClaffert:               Interestingly enough, probably like six months before that, I had a call from one of the senior guys at GoDaddy who is talking about what they were building out in WordPress. So, as an individual, I was kind of on his radar. I think he was looking for help with something WordPress-related, and I was like, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m working on this and we’re getting some traction and everything else.”

Alex McClaffert:               It was funny because another 12 months I’m sitting in a meeting room with him and some of the other team members talking about what either a partnership or an acquisition could potentially look like. So whether I was partly on the radar, what we were building was partly on the radar, it is hard to really know, because a company like GoDaddy, if they see talent, they’ll pay a premium for that if it’s niche enough or specialist enough.

Alex McClaffert:               You see this happen in the valley quite a lot, where there’ll be someone with a very specific skillset and they’ll be looking to just bring that person in. And they’ll pay a premium to do that. So that can also be a factor. Part of getting the deal done with GoDaddy was that I was going to come with the business. So that was built in too.

John Warrillow:                I want to talk to you about that as well. How does it go from this conversation, very brief with someone like GoDaddy, to a partnership/acquisition conversation? Did they reach out to you over email? Did they meet you at a bar? How did it actually start to accelerate into an acquisition conversation?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. I think the email came through around May 2016. I was pretty burnt out by this stage. So the email came to my co-founder. I just fobbed it off because I’d had one other experience with one other big internet company that had… because it was so early and so new, and this happens quite a bit too, is they were like, “Cool. We’re interested in partnering or buying you guys.” We definitely overstepped and probably shared more than we should have. And there was probably no real intention on their side to go through with the purchase-

John Warrillow:                They’re just fishing.

Alex McClaffert:               … or maybe there was. I’m not sure. They were fishing, and that’s okay. You learn that lesson once and then you never do it again. And so, I had a bad taste in my mouth from that, and I was pretty burned out and I was kicking on with some other projects and things, and trying to push the sale as much as I could. But I hit a road block.

Alex McClaffert:               The email came through. Co-founder went back and forth and basically said like, “This looks like there’s some interest here. Went into, where was it, Sunny Vale where the headquarters are and had a meeting-

John Warrillow:                Did they position it as a potential acquisition or did they couch it as a sort of partnership? What verbiage did they use?

Alex McClaffert:               I think partnership, to start. An artillery is probably the wrong word, but given the folks that were in the meeting, I felt like there was a little bit more weight behind it than a partnership because if you heard about-

John Warrillow:                Who was there?

Alex McClaffert:               Senior people in products, senior people in operations and support, corporate development. So I’m like intuiting this thing and going, “Well, if it’s a partnership, typically you engage with the partner manager or someone in business development, and that’s the process, because my wife was working with Wix which is another internet company and she was in partnership. So I kind of knew how that process typically went, even with big companies, right, you’re not really bringing in the big guns. So I had a feeling that there was some kind of interest. And they just bring us and they just ask us a bunch of questions about operations, projections, what our plans are for marketing.

John Warrillow:                Had you executed an NDA?

Alex McClaffert:               At that point, let me think. Yes. Yes. Yes. So anything that-

John Warrillow:                And that was probably another sign that they were serious.

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. I think it’s good hygiene as well, because I was quite resistant given that I’d handed over a lot of intel to a company in the past and wanted some guard rails in place. That was super important to me. And so, yeah, we definitely started that off with, I would say, a healthy agreement and healthy boundaries in place to make sure we could have a real conversation.

John Warrillow:                This is a fascinating topic because so many of our listeners want to know like, “How much information should I divulge? If I get approached by an acquirer, they’re going to have a thousand questions for me. What do I share? What do I keep close to my vest?” How did you decide to approach that meeting. Even with an NDA in place, obviously you’re exposing yourself to some extent. What did you share and where did you cut them off saying, “I’m not prepared to talk about that.”

Alex McClaffert:               We were very transparent, so we would do the whole monthly report, talk about our revenue. I think we’d done that up until like 12 months prior to the sale. So we had growth and traffic and all of that kind of stuff. The way that I was looking at it was, at our scale, it wasn’t going to be necessarily really a financial purchase, the motivation wasn’t going to be financial as such, because GoDaddy I think at that time was like a three or a four-billion-dollar company driven by primarily private equity people, very good operators.

Alex McClaffert:               Looking at our level of revenue wasn’t going to be the make or break. What they were looking for was scale, because they value buyers. They’ll say something and figure out how they can get the most out of it, is what good equity firms do. And so, I was walking into that knowing that. And even though those questions typically the ones that people can get uncomfortable around or tripped up on, again, going from outside in, trying to understand where the buyer’s coming from for me was very important because I could say, “Oh, our churn rate is X, so our annual revenue is Y.”

Alex McClaffert:               That’s cool. That’s good for them to know, but what they’re trying to actually understand is what’s this going to look like at 10 times the scale or beyond, like how does this business grow. And are you the team and are you the people to make that happen? That’s really the questions that they’re answering. So I didn’t put a whole lot of stock or weight into that because frankly they probably didn’t really care that much to be honest, which took some pressure off. So I could be very open and very candid and say, “These are the things that are working, these are the things that aren’t. And here’s what we would do given more resources, given more marketing, given more sales opportunities and so forth.

John Warrillow:                Was this an acqui-hire?

Alex McClaffert:               In my experience, an acqui-hire is where a team goes over to a business, and then there’s some kind of signing bonus, and there’s no value assigned to the business. So there’s like, “We’ll announce this as an acquisition, and then you guys will get taken care of.” That’s not what this was, which was nice because I’ve had some friends go through that process and there’s a difference between having an acquisition, getting a lump sum of cash, being able to do something with that, or having an acquisition that’s announced, goes out to the public, everyone’s really celebrating. And then the founder doesn’t feel so great because it wasn’t really a financial milestone for them. And so, there’s a big difference between the two, and yeah, luckily, or thankfully, for me, it wasn’t.

John Warrillow:                The reason I raise it is because you’re operating stats on revenue and profitability were less interesting than, does this model scale? Is it foundation that we can put 10 times the weight on and it won’t collapse? Those were the kinds of questions they wanted to have answered, it sounds like.

Alex McClaffert:               Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Warrillow:                Fantastic. And so, at what point did they actually put a number in front of you?

Alex McClaffert:               Let me think. Started talking in June. Yeah, it was about August, early August. So it was probably two months of back and forward, and then August we got into going back and forth on term sheet and so forth.

John Warrillow:                Who made the first move? I mean, did they ask you verbally in those meetings, “What do you want for the business, Alex?” Or did they come out of the blue with a number?

Alex McClaffert:               They ask, and when you’re dealing with people that have been in corporate development for 15 or 20 years, to them they’re running a process. It’s a very, very well-oiled and very defined process. At one point, it felt like a little bit of David and Goliath because I’m like, “Okay. I’ve got to figure out how not to mess this up, I’ve got to not shortchange myself. I’ve got to make sure the whole team gets taken care of. Want to make sure that everyone’s made whole from the transaction.”

Alex McClaffert:               This is where I learned about the emotional side of the acquisition, which is about managing your individual state. And the single thing that got me through the process, I think, was being committed to trying to do everything that I could to make sure that the deal got done at the terms that made both my co-founder happy, but also balancing that out with being okay if it didn’t come off. So that was a weird position to be put in because I had to show up 110%, every meeting, every call, every data request or whatever else, and know that it could completely fall apart at any point in time.

Alex McClaffert:               A lot of these kind of these kind of deals trough, and they take up a lot of head space and energy and effort from founders. Again, personally, I’ve this working with founders as well where people get starry-eyed or they get duller signs in their eyes. There’s someone that’s knocking on their door. You get into diligence. And for whatever reason, there might be a change in strategy or something else pops up.

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. To anyone that is going to go through the process, and this is my perspective on it, is be really committed to doing the work and working through. But at a certain point… It’s not a dice roll, but you’ve put in your best effort. Then if it doesn’t come off and you’ve put in your best effort, you have to let it go.

John Warrillow:                You’re saying that that was difficult, that you learned that lesson not through doing, right? Riding that emotional wave of trying not to get too wired up. How did you respond when they asked, what do you want for the company?

Alex McClaffert:               I think I was just really… I don’t know. I’ve bounced around a little bit, and I’m like, “We’ve got a multiple in mind. Basically we’ll see what you’ve got on the table, and then just shut up. I think there’s a propensity to want to justify and talk about what you want and all of these different things. But we have a number in mind. Let’s see what you’ve got. That’s it, and then see what goes on from there, because with any deal that I’ve ever see, there’s a dance that happens, which is, “We’ll offer you this.” “Okay, that’s way too low.” We’re going to come in way too high and it’s going to go back and forward anyway. To me, that first number isn’t necessarily that important.

John Warrillow:                What was your reaction to the number they put in front of you?

Alex McClaffert:               They made it real for sure. They made it like, “Okay. There’s a good chance this is going to get done. But then it was a matter of figuring out… I think going into it what I knew is I had a number that I would be happy with. And once I got to that number, then I would be negotiating other terms. So that was the other thing that was helpful. And again, when you can get into things like earnouts and clawbacks and performance bonuses by a bunch of different cliffs investors, all these different things that can convolute an offer, knowing what you want to walk away with, me knowing what I wanted to walk away with was really helpful and cleared things up. So when we hit that, I was like, “Great. Let’s go.”

John Warrillow:                Did the initial offer reach your number for what you needed to make you happy?

Alex McClaffert:               No.

John Warrillow:                How did you respond?

Alex McClaffert:               I put on my dancing shoes and started to dance. I kept a straight face while I was doing it, because I think, again, the emotional component of this is, when your expectations aren’t met, it’s easy to maybe get upset or think that there’s something missing, or maybe you haven’t explained the value of what you do well enough or whatever else. But, at the same time, you’ve got to maintain, I don’t know, a demeanor which is… you’re selling a business, it’s a transaction. It’s a financial transaction. So it’s, “I have something to sell. When you meet that price, then we’re going to be good. Until you make that price, then we’re not going to sell.” There’s no other options better than selling. And so, being firm in that I think was super helpful. It was very helpful to do that.

John Warrillow:                Had you and your partner Dan arrived at the same number, or did you have different numbers in mind?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah, we had the same number for sure.

John Warrillow:                You mentioned you danced. When you say you danced, were you physically in front of the folks at GoDaddy at this time, of were you looking at an email and trying to conjure up your response?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah, it was emails and calls. Yeah. I think we’d mostly taken it online by this stage because there was going to be a lot of back and forward.

John Warrillow:                How did you respond?

Alex McClaffert:               I couldn’t remember the exact response as far as what I said next. But it was along the lines of, “We’re going to need more to make this happen.”

John Warrillow:                What was their reaction to that?

Alex McClaffert:               I think this is where the dance kicks off, which is something to do with pacing where they’re likely working to a timeline on their side to close the deal. And they’ve got certain areas where they can go slow, and certain areas that they can go fast. And I think this was an area where I was willing to wait it out, because I knew that this was one of the most important things to get right.

Alex McClaffert:               Like when you’re in diligence and you’re trying to find any warts that are on the business or any skeletons that are in the closet. Then you can get really show and be really… Sorry. You can go slow or fast depending on which part of the business that you’re looking at. But for me I was not going to rush this part of the process. And so I was happy to wait as long as it took for them to get back to me.

John Warrillow:                That is a man with enormous discipline. Would you mind sharing… When we had the video cameras on, there’s something behind you in a glass case. Do you mind sharing what that is?

Alex McClaffert:               That was a present from my wife, which is a basketball that’s signed by John Wooden. He’s like the master of discipline. The thing about this is that on the inside I was doing back wheels and cartwheels, probably having panic attacks and melting down and going up and down through the rollercoaster that is the deal process. But when I was in front of the people that I needed to be in front of, or when I needed to communicate, I had to be very measured and very deliberate because these guys are good at what they do. They’re good at buying companies. They can a really good value opportunity.

Alex McClaffert:               With that, I value the work that I’ve done. I value the work that the team had put in and the product that we’d built. And I wanted to make sure that that was recognized because the other side of this is if I sold for something that I wasn’t happy with. I would go start working at GoDaddy and be a bit upset. I’d be like, “I don’t feel really good about this deal because I feel like I didn’t get what I needed.” So I was trying to keep that in mind as I was going through the process, which is not easy because, with something like this, a huge financial transaction, life-changing amount of money, emotions are running high, there’s a lot of pressure, business still needs to run, team members are wondering why people are quiet or what’s going on. So there’s many, many moving parts and super stressful, but maintaining that demeanor of being calm and collected, that helps.

John Warrillow:                How much were they off by?

Alex McClaffert:               Off the top of my head, I couldn’t remember the exact details of that.

John Warrillow:                I’m trying to get a sense, did they need to double their offer, triple their offer? Was it short like 10% in terms of is this a huge gap that we’re trying to fill here, or a nip and a tuck and we’ll get there?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. I think it was ballpark, and I think it was something that we could get to. What we were looking for wasn’t insane, and what their offering wasn’t like… I’ll say some of these early offers, and for companies come through, and sometimes they’re low enough that they’re almost offensive. GoDaddy didn’t pull that. GoDaddy was very respectful and they’re like, “We’ve got our model. This is comps. This is what this could look like.” And I’m like, “Okay, that’s great. We need to work on that to get to somewhere where we’re both comfortable.” And that’s just going back and forward, back and forward until you land on it.

Alex McClaffert:               But yeah, at this point, I’ve been in it for a couple of months. The pressure starts to build a little bit because there’s a sense that you need to… I want to say, you need to get some closure or need to move things forward. And this is also an entrepreneurial trait too, right? Like I feel good when there’s progress or momentum. But understanding the dynamic that you’re working with a company that’s on different timelines to you, has more resources than you, maybe doesn’t have as big a sense of the urgency that you do.

Alex McClaffert:               That context is helpful because, if I was expecting everyone to go at my pace, I would be very upset within a couple of weeks because I’m focusing wholly and solely on this deal. But just prior to our deal closing, another deal closed, which was the acquisition of HostEuroCrew which was an enormous deal. So all the corporate development people are hands down or heads down on that thing, and we’ve got our deal coming through on the side. If I took that personally and I’d be like, “Okay, well, why are things not moving at the pace I expect them to?” Or whatever else. It’d be very easy to let emotions drive my positioning or drive what I was doing.

John Warrillow:                But you’re a master of discipline apparently. Fantastic.

Alex McClaffert:               On the outside, on the outside, on the inside I’m doing loops.

John Warrillow:                Yeah. So your response is, “Hey, guys. Thanks for the offer, but we’re going to have to do better to get it to where we need to be, for everybody to be happy.” How much time is there between that communication and them improving their offer to the point where you were willing to accept?

Alex McClaffert:               I think the time periods are pretty short, and that was good for me because I was like, “Okay, if they’re serious, they’ll come back relatively quickly because they know that we’re working to some kind of closure on this. I think, again, looking at this retrospectively, it’s easy… I probably would refresh my inbox like every hour to make sure I hadn’t missed an email. But then I’d get the email and I’d make sure that I wouldn’t reply to it immediately because I didn’t want to seem like that overbearing super-excited guy.

Alex McClaffert:               There’s little signals that you can send in stuff like this which… the corporate development team knows roughly where you are. They roughly know what you’re looking for. And they kind of know-

John Warrillow:                How will they know that?

Alex McClaffert:               Because this is what they do. They work with entrepreneurs that have put their heart and soul into a business, and then they’re offering them and exit. And sometimes that might be amenable to what they’re looking for. You can easily get starry-eyed. You can really, really easily get to the term sheet phase, have some dollar signs in your eyes, start looking at that Tesla that you want to buy or that house that you want to buy, or whatever else, and you just get carried away with it.

Alex McClaffert:               There’s something to that, which is it takes your eye off the price, which is actually working through the process, getting the deal done, getting it done in a way that takes care of everyone. And this is where shortcuts and things can arise because you get so exhausted by all of the emotion that’s flying around, you start to make bad decisions.

John Warrillow:                What would you counsel an entrepreneur to think about at this stage of the game? You mentioned the corporate development people roughly know where you’re at. They know what strings to pull. What sorts of games would a corporate development person play or tactics or messages that you’d counsel entrepreneurs to be thoughtful about?

Alex McClaffert:               Again, respectfully, the team that I worked with in corp dev from GoDaddy, very good at what they do. So I have the utmost respect for them because they were very respectful through the process and super helpful. As far as the entrepreneur side of things, I think the first thing is knowing the number that you want, being very, very clear on what that number is, what do I want to walk away with after tax, and get that in the upfront consideration. Don’t be dancing around with clawbacks and earnouts and all sorts of different wonky structures that may or may not lead to you getting what you need. Just be clear on what you want.

Alex McClaffert:               Then also ground map in reality. You’ll talk to some founders, and I’ve talked to a couple founders recently who will throw out these insane multiples for a company that is nowhere near that. It’s not my job to tell them that that’s right or wrong, but I’ll say, in my experience, I think you might be a little bit off the mark as comps go, like manage your expectations. But then also I think making sure that you are clear that the people that you’re working with, this is their job. They’re professionals at what they do, and it’s good to be respectful of that. But also remember that they’re not your friends either. So this is a business transaction. And when there’s a motion flying around, it’s natural to overstep, overshare, overreach, oversignal. But it really is a bit of a game of poker. And so, if you can keep your game face mostly together, then that will serve you in the long run.

Alex McClaffert:               It also builds a nice… it sets the tone for the relationship in a nice way, which is like, “I have a company. I’m proud of this company. I am going to get what I need to make this work, and I want to make sure that the company is successful post the acquisition. When I approached it in that way, it served me really well. So those are a couple of things I think to consider.

Alex McClaffert:               Then the other things that I mentioned were timelines. Startups timeline or an entrepreneur’s timeline is like, “What can I do by the end of this week?” A corporate’s timeline is the end of the quarter or the end of the year. And so, if you’re aware of that, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches by feeling things are moving more slowly than you expect them to.

John Warrillow:                But in your case, the turns on your communication with the corporate development people were quite quick, like weeks. You sent them an email. How quickly are they coming back to you?

Alex McClaffert:               Relatively speaking, it was quick. But that’s quick in corporate terms, not quick in entrepreneur terms.

John Warrillow:                So five days, 10 days, 20 days?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah, five to 10 days. They had resources assigned to work this thing. But again, I’d tempered my expectations. I didn’t this thing was going to get done in, I don’t know, a week or two weeks. I knew that there was going to be lots of things that had to happen under the hood to make sure this landed, lots of HR elements to get right, just different things that needed to move, different puzzle pieces that need to be put together to make sure that it would work.

John Warrillow:                What was the thorniest issue?

Alex McClaffert:               Let me think. I think maybe the biggest concern was scale, like how does this scale? If you look at any productized service, and this is again from having looked at a lot of these now, there’s this things that happens with the productized service, and happens in a lot of service businesses, or brick and mortar businesses, is when you scale revenue then your people and your hard costs scale linearly with revenue.

Alex McClaffert:               So you’ve go this built in drag on a business where it gets less and less appealing the bigger and bigger you get. So this is the reason that software companies get acquired and can scale, if the acquisition is well-managed, scale really quickly because you’re basically buying, I don’t know, more hardware to support it, or getting more engineers to work on it. But you can get non-linear scale.

Alex McClaffert:               With something like a productized service, it’s like, “Okay. We know what headcount you’ve got now. But if we go revenue by 10X, does that mean head count’s going to increase by 10X? Are we going to have a… I think GoDaddy at the time had 4,000 employees or something. And I can’t go in there and say, “Yeah, this is going to be a 2 or a 300-person team operating at scale.” And so that was work that I had to do to figure out, how do we engineer this business in a way where we can get as much volume through the front door as possible without having to have dozens and dozens of people being hired every other month to keep up with demand.

John Warrillow:                That’s helpful. At what point did you know that they were going to meet your expectations for… I can’t remember what you called it, but the number you needed to make you and Dan happy. What were the circumstances around finding out that you were going to get that number?

Alex McClaffert:               Let me think. I think it was just dancing for long enough, going back and forward on, this is what we’re looking for. Yeah. I can’t remember exactly how many times it was, but it was just a matter of bouncing around on that.

John Warrillow:                Did you ever reveal your number to the other side?

Alex McClaffert:               Once I hit it, we did.

John Warrillow:                Sure. But before they hit it, did you ever say, I mean, I’m putting numbers, “You guys are 1X revenue. We’ve got to be at least at 3X revenue to do this deal.” Did you share your number at any point?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. We were talking in abstract, like multiples based on annual recurring, that kind of thing. Yeah. The answer to that question is yes, but only as we got closer to where we needed to be. It wasn’t like, “You landed here, and then we have to be here to make it happen.” It’s like, “You landed here. Let’s see what else is available. Let’s keep seeing what else is available. Okay, we’re close.” So it was like cold, warm, warmer, hot. Okay, this is what we need to do to get it done.

John Warrillow:                Got it. Are you shopping this deal to other web hosting companies at the same time?

Alex McClaffert:               No.

John Warrillow:                Intentionally?

Alex McClaffert:               I think I couldn’t. Yeah. I don’t think I could. At a certain point, there’s exclusivity, and there’s lots of other hoops to jump through and that kind of thing. I did not want to have any risks that I could manage on my side brought into the deal. So I didn’t want to torpedo the deal on myself by basically getting too excited and going out and trying to shop the thing when I was getting good signals from the prospective buyer.

John Warrillow:                When was the share purchase agreement consummated? Did you go to a lawyer’s office to sign the documents? Where did you actually go?

Alex McClaffert:               I think it was just online.

John Warrillow:                Were you and Dan together at the time?

Alex McClaffert:               He was in Australia. I was in Arizona. It was the funniest celebration because when you sell something like that, when something like that happens, it feels like streamers are going to pop out the roof, music’s going to start playing, I don’t know, there’s going to be a matching band come through the front door. But none of those things happened and I was kind of like, “Oh, okay. Get back to business, I suppose.”

John Warrillow:                Have you and Dan ever physically met?

Alex McClaffert:               I think we met about a year after we started working together. We met a couple times but it was primarily a remote business. Yeah.

John Warrillow:                Did you buy yourself any sort of trophy or reward for the getting the deal then?

Alex McClaffert:               I went out and I got… Well, maybe that was beforehand. I don’t know if you saw the other things that were in my office. But I’ve got some WP Curve license plates that set me back I think it was 50 bucks. They’re pretty cheap in Arizona to get custom plates. It took me a little while to get myself something nice, so I didn’t really have any big splurges. And then, probably like six months ago, I went out and I got a Tesla Model 3.

John Warrillow:                Fantastic.

Alex McClaffert:               Those cars are amazing, and I’m not a car guy. I drove a Kia Optima before that, so I didn’t really care.

John Warrillow:                Did you go do a motor performance the whole nine yards?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah.

John Warrillow:                Oh, boy. That’s awesome. Great to hear. I like a good trophy now and again. Can’t do all this work and all this dancing for nothing.

Alex McClaffert:               Well, I tell people this too. It’s like, “Go and celebrate.” And entrepreneurs are like, “Yeah, yeah. I just got so much work to do.” And it’s like, “Okay, what are you working for again? Working for the sake of work?”

John Warrillow:                That’s awesome. That’s awesome. So what do you do now? What’s keeping you busy these days?

Alex McClaffert:               When I was at GoDaddy, I had a couple people that reached out to me because they’d seen what I’d gone through, and were like, “Oh, we need help with that company.” Either they were scaling their company or they wanted to sell their company. I fell into business coaching. I was like a reluctant business coach. No, the second client that I worked with was the guy that introduced us, which is Jake Jorgovan, so shout out to him.

John Warrillow:                Yeah. You can listen to his episode… off top of my head, but put it in the show notes. But great interview.

Alex McClaffert:               He’s a really heart-centered guy. Got a lot of respect for him. We worked together and then he’s nudging me. He’s like, “Dude, you’ve got to do more of this.” And I’m again reluctant. He’s like, “Get out there and market yourself. Talk about some of the things that you’ve learned. It will be helpful to people. I’m like, “Okay, Jake” And so, yeah, for the last… What’s it been? It’s been about a year now that I’ve been helping entrepreneurs that are running internet companies scale and sell.

Alex McClaffert:               I’ve helped a couple of companies sell and being able to share some of my experience to help them get through it a little bit more smoothly and not get, I think, overwhelmed with all of the different moving parts of the deal process, because it is so stressful. It is stressful.

John Warrillow:                Where would people, if they want to reach out to you, what’s the best way to do that? Are you a LinkedIn guy, or a Twitter guy? Where can we point people to?

Alex McClaffert:               Yeah. They can just jump on LinkedIn. If you look me up on AlexMcClafferty, or you can go to my website and productize.co. That’s P-R-O-D-U-C-T-I-Z-E.co.

John Warrillow:                Awesome. And McClafferty is M-C, capital C-L-A-F-F-E-R-T-Y, if I have my notes correct. Is that right?

Alex McClaffert:               That’s right.

John Warrillow:                Alex, thanks so much for joining us. It’s great to be hearing your story, and it was great to visit with you.

Alex McClaffert:               And thanks for the hard-hitting questions. I really appreciate it.

John Warrillow:                There you go. Cheers.

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