Web.com CEO David Brown.

Web.com CEO says he expects Siris to help company continue with its growth

“It's easier to transform a company when you're private than when you're public,” CEO David Brown says.
By: 
Aug. 30, 2018

Web.com Group Inc. spent the summer finalizing a $2.2 billion buyout agreement but that didn’t slow down the company’s other plans, like construction of a new 218,700-square-foot headquarters building on Jacksonville’s Southside.

“The sixth floor is going up right as we speak,” CEO David Brown said during an interview Wednesday at the Atlantic Beach Country Club, site of next month’s Web.com Tour Championship golf tournament.

Affiliates of private equity firm Siris Capital Group LLC agreed to buy Web.com, a deal that is targeted to close in the fourth quarter. Brown expects Siris to help the company continue with its growth, including plans to offer more services for businesses beyond its traditional function of helping them develop websites.

“It's easier to transform a company when you're private than when you're public,” he said.

Brown said Siris, which focuses on technology companies, will be a good partner.

“They understand and appreciate our business,” he said.

Brown also thinks the PGA Tour has been a good partner for Web.com. The company in 2012 signed a 10-year deal to become the naming rights sponsor of the organization’s second-level golf tour, which develops players for the main PGA Tour.

The Web.com Tour Championship on Sept. 20-23 is the final event of the season, with the Web.com Tour’s top 50 players qualifying for the main tour next year.

During a media day event Wednesday, Web.com Tour President Dan Glod said the tournament is an opportunity for fans to see golfers on the way up. Many golfers who played on the Web.com Tour the last two years are already succeeding on the PGA Tour.

“The players have gone on to win 17 times immediately on the PGA Tour,” he said.

Fans can attend this year’s tournament for free by registering for tickets on its website, WebTourChampionship.com.

“We're allowing anyone who wants to come to the tournament to do so compliments of Web.com,” Glod said.

Tournament director Adam Renfroe said he expects 20,000 fans over the four-day event. New fan venues this year include Taps and Tacos, featuring tacos from Jacksonville Beach restaurant TacoLu and craft beer by local company Brewz.

“Taps and Tacos is exactly what it sounds like,” Renfroe said.

Web.com’s sponsorship agreement with the PGA Tour runs through 2021 and while nothing has been discussed with Siris, the buyout is not expected to impact the sponsorship.

“We’re excited about the future,” Glod said. “We know the Tour provides a lot of value” for the company.

Brown said it’s too soon to talk to Siris about the golf partnership.

“We just figured out who our buyer is going to be for sure a couple of weeks ago,” he said.

Siris agreed in June to buy Web.com for $25 a share but after a “go-shop” period which allowed Web.com to see higher offers, the price was increased to $28 on Aug. 6.

“It was a friendly go-shop and it worked,” said Brown.

Web.com’s stock price has traded slightly above $28 on most days since the agreement was announced, indicating Wall Street anticipates a higher offer.

Brown said the stock activity seems to be the result of arbitrage traders seeking to profit on small fluctuations in price.

“It’s very normal,” he said.

Brown expects Siris to complete the buyout and the company has said it does not expect major changes to its operations under the new ownership.

However, Brown said Wednesday he has not discussed with Siris if he will remain as CEO, because he doesn’t think that would be appropriate before shareholders vote on the buyout agreement.

The date of the special shareholders meeting to approve the deal has not been set.