#FutureofGandi: the adventure continues
Gandi was founded in 1999 on a crazy idea: show the whole world that the existing dogma in the industry could be confronted and contested by a small team of developers (Pierre, Laurent, and Valentin) in “socialist” France, mostly known as a nice spot to take a vacation. The goal was to make purchasing domain names available to everyone while at the same time offering quality customer service, all while maintaining deeply held values of transparency and honesty. They weren’t in it for the money, they only wanted to show that it was possible, that we can propose an alternative. When they pulled me to take over the company in 2004—me and nobody else—I knew that I must continue moving Gandi in this same direction and that doing so would be worth the trouble. I was going to swim against the current in order to prove that you can be successful and behave, not just towards investors, that’s the norm, but with everyone: customers, employees, vendors, and the company as a whole. The seed was there, we only needed to plant it, and cultivate it into a company that would outlast us.
Fourteen years later, Gandi has become a key player in the domain name industry globally, offering more than 750 domain extensions under a single brand and platform across the globe. We now actively manage more than 2.5 million domain names and also serve corporate clients of all sizes. Anyone who wants to personalize and professionalize their web presence, whether individuals or resellers who sell our domains or associated services (email, hosting, SSL certificates). With more than 800,000 regular customers and revenues of over 37 million euros, the company enjoys a significant share of the market in France but is also active since 2012 via its subsidiaries in Europe, the United States, and Asia, with 45% of sales coming from outside of France. Yes, domain names have a particular value and importance that justifies a business model centered on them. Yes, this was more complicated than what I had anticipated, and without all those who’ve joined me on this adventure, none of this would have been remotely possible. Thank you to all of you who have helped, in many different ways …
To get where we are, and notably to be worthy of the trust of our customers (the most fundamental thing in our view) we’ve had to work hard. We accomplished what we have only be creating, internally, products, interfaces, platforms, technologies, services, processes, teams, etc. with the singular goal of best serving our customers. That’s how, from time to time, we’ve been witness to a miracle: a large part of our customer base, no doubt happy with our work (and our values), have recommended us to an acquaintance, a relative, or a coworker. To continue to be deserving of such grace, we have never faltered in the quality of service provided, owning what we are (a pretty geeky group) in total transparency: on prices, practices, and our mistakes. This hasn’t always been easy, we haven’t always been—I haven’t always been—good, but I’m proud of the path we’ve taken to get where we are today.
At this point, I’d like to just insist on one point: I don’t know how to measure the success of an individual or a company. That can vary depending on who’s asking the question, and who’s answering. But I do want to be very clear about one thing: what we’ve done, we did it because it aligned with our values, without any exterior help and above all so that we would be able to look ourselves in the mirror at the end of the day. Even our previous investor never added funding to the company, which has certainly served as a check on our growth. Obviously, I have the ultimate responsiblity in any case, but I’ve always privileged steady growth, in step with our values. Today I regret the pride—poorly placed, no doubt—that we had to tell ourselves that we were managing the company well because we were reinvesting everything that we earned, that we didn’t have debts or take out loans, etc.
Why? Well, to put it succinctly, because that’s not the world we live in and removing yourself from that world has its limitations. But that has given us (and I deeply thank our investor who left us time and never stopped believing in us) the opportunity to build, with clear eyes and a view towards the long-term, an international company. We aren’t, or at least not anymore, so pretentious to say that what we’re doing is better or worse than any other possible course. To each their own, and on a personal note, I do respect that others have made different choices and are compensated one way or another for that. I only hope that we will be viewed in the same light when judged on the course and choices we’ve made. We should have, no doubt, especially in the past years, communicated more, explaining what we’ve been experiencing, but sometimes it’s impossible to do and make comments at the same time. Especially when going through difficult times …
It is with pleasure, then, that I’m now here to tell you about the next step, without filter!
At this stage, and always looking to the horizon, Gandi needs to continue to grow, thanks to its customers as always, but we should also give ourselves the means to achieve this approach, in order to keep ourselves from falling into a rut and thereby silo ourselves off from the world. This means that we should also not be afraid to say clearly that we wish to attract other projects, other teams, and other “compatible” companies.
Together, we are stronger, and we can accomplish great things if we give ourselves the means to! And for us, who have been seen by the financial milieu as “geeks” as they say, the difficulty was in finding financial partners who put their full confidence in us, not stopping at appearances, having intelligence—synthetic and emotional—to understand what we want to do and how we want to get there. And giving us the means to turn that ambition into a reality.
Seven months after starting this process—that couldn’t happen until all the boxes could be checked on both sides—it’s now completed, and we have found a new investor in Montefiore Investment, who have replaced our former shareholder!
In Montefiore, I see an investor capable of accompanying us as we grow, notably through external growth, which will mark a new chapter in our story. A certain number of contacts have already been made, and I’ll get back to you on this point in the near future. But Montefiore and its team should also help us build on our strength, organic growth, by investing in recruiting new talent, strengthening our products, and most especially on the level of our resellers and corporate customers, especially with regards to enterprise customers, who will become a clear priority for our growth in these two segments.
We will continue to serve you, without changing who we are—enthusiastic lovers of technology looking to simplify and secure web access for all. We hope this audacious bet will pay off not just for us, but most especially for you our customers.