Aldrich, now driving innovation as chief product officer at GoDaddy, says NCSSM “allowed me to use my mediocre skills in a number of fields, from playing cello to playing basketball, soccer, even serving as photo editor of the yearbook. I got to try out all those different roles and feel comfortable in them.”
GoDaddy’s Steven Aldrich ‘87 is grateful for a well-rounded education.
Steven Aldrich ‘87 was in business school in the mid-1990s when the phenomenon known as the World Wide Web was in its earliest stages of development. Studying at Stanford, in the heart of Silicon Valley, put Aldrich in the epicenter of that development. One of his mentors, for example, had helped create the encryption technology for Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, allowing us to safely make purchases online. “The opportunities I had to interact with people like that were amazing,” he remembers.
In June 1995, just months after earning his MBA (and one month after marrying his wife, Allison), Aldrich launched his own online business, selling insurance. Intuit soon bought his start-up and hired him to manage Intuit’s growing line of online financial services. Aldrich has worked in the online realm ever since, including leading several start-ups. This past January he was named chief product officer at GoDaddy Inc., where he has worked since 2012, when the giant of small-business technology platforms bought his firm Outright, an online bookkeeping service.
“Steven’s passion for developing breakthrough products that help small businesses succeed is extraordinary,” GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving said in announcing Aldrich’s promotion. “He looks at every experience through the lens of a small business owner and has incredible empathy for the challenges they face. Steven will play a lead role as GoDaddy continues to enhance and expand its integrated suite of products that empower people to easily start, confidently grow, and successfully run their own ventures.”
Aldrich loves that his work draws on the knowledge and experience he’s gained in serving small businesses. “The web has been around for two decades,” he says, “yet half of all small businesses don’t have a website, and half of them don’t have a custom email address” — using generic Gmail, say, or Yahoo addresses instead. “You ask them why, when the numbers show how it will help their businesses grow, and they’ll say, “Well I’m just too darn busy.’ So our job is first to ensure that people don’t forget that doing these things will make a big difference to their businesses, and then to make it really easy for them to do.”
Aldrich credits North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics with helping him become a well-rounded person with the confidence to try new things. “NCSSM allowed me to use my mediocre skills in a number of fields, from playing cello to playing basketball, soccer, even serving as photo editor of the yearbook. I got to try out all those different roles and feel comfortable in them. And the rigorous thinking I was exposed to in the classroom, especially Dr. Kolena (physics) blowing my mind on a daily basis.”
The Aldrich family — Steven, his brother Daniel ‘92, and parents Howard and Penny — are longtime supporters of NCSSM. They donate to the Aldrich Music Endowment that they created as well as to the school’s Greater Challenge Fund.
“It’s really fun to give back,” Steven Aldrich says. “It’s a great experience to see how giving makes an impact on students. It’s clear that the school makes great use of our donations.”