GoDaddy CEO shoots an elephant and loses customers
A fierce debate has raged around Bitterwallet HQ this morning – if we saw footage of Richard Branston shooting an elephant and then standing by as local villagers in Virgin baseball caps stripped the carcass and devoured the meat, would we cancel our Virgin Media subscriptions? It’s not a relevant question – none of us are Virgin Media customers, because they’re shite.
But it’s the kind of conundrum that is currently troubling customers of web hosting company GoDaddy, after its CEO, Bob Parsons was filmed blasting an elephant during a trip to Zimbabwe. Not surprisingly, there’s been a widespread, knee-jerk outcry along the lines of “Woah, the GoDaddy dude like TOTALLY shot an elephant! I’m closing my account NOW!”
But it’s not as simple as that, as Parsons himself explains…
"I spend a few weeks in Zimbabwe each year helping the farmers deal with problem elephants. The people there have very little, many die each year from starvation and one of the problems they have is the elephants, of which there are thousands and thousands, that trash many of their fields destroying the crops.
The tribal authorities request that I and others like me, patrol the fields before and during the harvest — we can't cover them all, there are just a few of us — and drive the elephant from the fields. The farmers try to run the elephants away by cracking whips, beating drums and lighting fires. All of this is ignored by the elephants.
When my team catch elephants in a field (there are never just one) we typically kill one of them and the rest leave for good. After we kill an elephant the people butcher the elephant and it feeds a number of villages. These people have literally nothing and when an elephant is killed it's a big event for them, they are going to be able to eat some protein.
This is no different than you or I eating beef. If at all possible we avoid elephant cows and only kill mature bulls. By just killing bulls it has no effect on the elephant social structure (as it is matriarchal) as well as the herd size. The reason is another bull quickly steps up and breeds in place of the bull taken."
So is it a branding cock-up on a par with Gerald Ratner’s admission that his jewellery was ‘crap’ or then-Newcastle United chairman Freddie Shepherd boasting of ripping off fans with the price of replica shirts? Or is it some bloke having a bit of firearm fun on his holidays?
And how many of YOU would shoot an elephant in Zimbabwe if you were led to believe it would be a good thing for the local community? Hmmm, thought so.