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Introducing… the DI Leaders Roundtable

Kevin Murphy, October 7, 2019, 19:31:02 (UTC), Leaders Roundtable

Today, I’m introducing what I hope to be the first of several regular features, the DI Leaders Roundtable.
Every week or two, I’ll be putting a single question to a collection of domain industry and ICANN community leaders and compiling their responses in order to gain some insight into current thoughts on hot topics or broader industry trends from some of the space’s top thinkers.
I’ve tried to reflect a broad cross-section of the industry, with a mix of business, policy and technical expertise from registries, registrars, back-ends, new gTLDs, legacy gTLDs, investors, etc.
The initial line-up for the panel, which will likely evolve as time goes by, is, in alphabetical order.
Ben Crawford, CEO, CentralNic
MugshotCrawford is CEO of CentralNic, a triple-play domain company based in London and listed on the Alternative Investment Market. Initially a vendor of pseudo-gTLDs such as and, CentralNic has over the course of the last seven years evolved into a company that sells both its own self-managed TLDs, such as .sk, as well as acting as a back-end for the likes of .xyz, .site and .online. Describing itself as a consolidator, the company nowadays makes most of its money via the registrar side of the house as a result of a series of mergers and acquisitions, particularly the merger with KeyDrive last year.
Jothan Frakes, Executive Director, Domain Name Association
MugshotA long-time industry jack-of-all-trades, Frakes is currently executive director of the Domain Name Association, the prominent industry trade group. Frakes has acted in a number of roles at domain name companies, as well as co-founding the popular NamesCon conference back in 2014. His technical credentials can be exemplified by, among other activities, his participation in Mozilla’s Public Suffix List, while his policy nous could be vouched for by many who have worked with him during his 20 years of ICANN participation.
Richard Kirkendall, CEO, NameCheap
MugshotKirkendall founded leading budget registrar NameCheap in 2000 and has occupied the office of CEO ever since. A long-time Enom reseller, NameCheap’s popularity was for many years shrouded in mystery. It finally transferred the last of its Enom names over to its own accreditation in January 2018, revealing it to have 7.5 million gTLD names under management. It added a further two million over the next 18 months, and says it has over 10 million names in total. NameCheap is known for its low prices and for its occasional support for pro-freedom political causes such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Milton Mueller, Professor, Georgia Tech
MugshotMueller is an academic and among the most prominent voices in ICANN’s Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group. Based at the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, he founded the Internet Governance Project, an independent policy research outfit, in 2004. He’s the author of several books on the topic, and very active in ICANN policy development, including the current effort to balance privacy rights with commercial interests in the Whois system.
Jeff Neuman, Senior VP, Com Laude
MugshotNeuman is senior vice president of brand-protection registrar Com Laude and sister company Valideus, which provides new gTLD consultancy services to brand owners. From 2000 until 2015, he worked in senior policy and registry business roles at Neustar, helping to apply for and launch .biz in 2001. A noted ICANN policy expert, Neuman has sat on various ICANN working groups and currently co-chairs the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process, which is developing the rules for the next round of new gTLDs.
Jon Nevett, CEO, Public Interest Registry
MugshotNevett is CEO of Public Interest Registry, which manages the 10-million-domain-strong legacy gTLD .org and a handful of new gTLDs. Prior to PIR, he was executive vice president of Donuts, and one of its four co-founders. He’s been in the domain business since 2004, when he joined Network Solutions as a senior VP on the policy side of the house. Nevett has also been involved in ICANN policy-making, including a stint as chair of the Registrars Constituency.
Michele Neylon, CEO, Blacknight
MugshotNeylon is CEO and co-founder of Blacknight Internet Solutions, a smaller registrar based in Ireland. Known for his “often outspoken” policy views, he’s a member of several ICANN working groups, sits on the GNSO Council representing registrars, and is a member of stakeholder group committees for various ccTLD registries including .eu, .ie and .us. Blacknight has almost 60,000 gTLD registrations to its name but also specializes in serving its local ccTLD market.
Dave Piscitello, Partner, Interisle Consulting Group
MugshotPiscitello is currently a partner at security consultancy Interisle Consulting Group, having retired from his role as vice president of security and ICT coordination at ICANN last year. With over 40 years in the security business, he’s also a board member of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE) and the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG). Interisle is an occasional ICANN security contractor.
Sandeep Ramchamdani, CEO, Radix Registry
MugshotRamchandani is CEO of Mumbai-based new gTLD registry Radix, which currently has a portfolio of 10 gTLDs and one ccTLD. It’s known primarily for its low-cost, high-volume, pure-generic business model, which has seen its two best performers, .online and .site, rack up almost three million domains between them. Radix is a unit of Directi Group, which is where Ramchandani cut his teeth for almost a decade before taking the reins of Radix in 2012.
Frank Schilling, CEO, Uniregistry
MugshotSchilling started off as a domain investor at the second level, 19 years ago, eventually managing hundreds of thousands of secondary-market domains with his company Name Administration, before founding Uniregistry in order to invest in new gTLDs in 2012. As a registry, Uniregisty has about a quarter of a million names spread across its 22-TLD portfolio; as a registrar it has over 1.2 million domains under management. Schilling is widely considered one of the most successful domain investment pioneers.
Rick Schwartz, aka the “Domain King”
MugshotSchwartz is viewed by domain investors as one of the most successful domainers of all time, and is known for his forthright, blunt criticisms of both new gTLDs and poor domain investment strategies. He’s been buying and selling domain names since 1995, and has sold several category-killer .com domains for seven-figure sums. Schwartz also founded the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. domainer conference in 2004, and it ran for 10 years.


Comments (26)

  1. Jennifer PAIGE Gore says:

    All men.. shame on you Kevin

  2. Mariah Reilly says:

    Maybe some of the men on this panel can help Kevin, by reaching out to the women leaders in their network and ask them to participate.

  3. Kristina Rosette says:

    May I suggest the first topic for this DI Leaders roundtable: Why aren’t there any “C Suite” level women in the industry? What has to change for that to happen? What are each of them doing to mentor women leaders in their respective organizations?

    • Katrin Ohlmer says:

      Of course, there could be more c-level women in the industry, but there are a couple including Hilde Thunem from .no and myself from .berlin. Apparently this has not been a criteria to participate.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      There are a few I can think of. Not many, true, but some.
      One influencing factor, possibly, may be that a significant number of registries and registrars are still managed by their founders, who are typically men. A pertinent question might be why aren’t more women founding domain companies? I don’t know the stats, but I’m guessing a similar question could be asked about tech companies in general.
      Anyway, I don’t intend to put the question to an all-male panel, which strikes me as the quickest way to get crucified for “mansplaining” on social media.

  4. Phil Buckingham says:

    Hi Kevin,
    This is a great idea, and an impressive list . I would invite/ add Jennifer, Kristine and Mariah .Icann representation is critical . Have you approached Trang or Christine W.
    Can I make a suggestion on your first Q .
    Do the panellist think there should be another Round(s) of TLDs . Follow up Q – how much should it cost to apply ? ( for the past four years the Sub Pro WG has been considering this fundamental Q and quite frankly getting no where ) Thanks .

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      I’ve deliberately avoided asking anyone from ICANN, including the board. I didn’t think they’d be able to speak particularly freely.

    • Jennifer Gore says:

      Thanks Phil. I think that is a great idea.

    • The more I look at the new gTLDs and the ICANN decisions regarding them, it is hard not to think of ICANN as just being tourists visting the domain name industry for a while. ICANN has all those wonderful events and press releases but the consensus model seemed to have more in common with lemmings than the wisdom of the crowd. It might be better to concentrate on industry opinion for the moment.

  5. Kellie Peterson says:

    “I’ve tried to reflect a broad cross-section of the industry, with a mix of business, policy and technical expertise from registries, registrars, back-ends, new gTLDs, legacy gTLDs, investors, etc.”
    If you can’t think of any women leaders – whether from the C-Suite or other areas – you’re not putting much effort in at all.
    There’s hardly a domain company I can think of that DOESN’T have a woman in some form of significant leadership.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Nice to meet you mate.
      Who are you?
      Why do you think I can’t think of any woman leaders?

      • Kellie Peterson says:

        Considering that we’ve actually met IRL and that you added me as a friend on Facebook after we met… I think faulty memory might be at the reason why you couldn’t think of many women leaders.
        But my bad, I see that you did indicate in another comment “There are a few I can think of. Not many, true, but some.”
        You’re a smart guy, Kevin, and that’s why this is so disappointing.

  6. Jennifer Gore says:

    Thanks Phil. I think that is a great idea.

  7. Mary Stich says:

    All male?! Surely you and your network can do better. This is very disappointing.

  8. Ashten Fizer says:

    A disappointment but typical for the tech industry. I’m not surprised that it’s not only male but supremely lacking in ethnic diversity as well. It’s amazing how most of the leaders of D&I in tech are black women but this is the coalition that was put together.

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