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Coronavirus is saving ICANN millions of your money, but will it use the cash wisely?

Kevin Murphy, June 21, 2020, 15:42:43 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN is saving millions this year due to the coronavirus-related shift to online-only public meetings.

But it’s thinking about using some of the cash to do things like pay for broadband upgrades and hotel rooms for some of its community volunteers.

During a conference call on Thursday, CFO Xavier Calvez gave out figures suggesting that the switch from in-person to Zoom meetings could save as much as $8 million of your money in 2020.

Calvez said that ICANN meetings usually cost an average of $4 million, but that the virtual ICANN 67 in March only cost the org $1.5 million to $2 million.

Because the face-to-face component was canceled only at the last minute, ICANN had already incurred some costs associated with a physical meeting.

The ICANN 68 meeting, which begins tomorrow, is expected to cost $1 million to $1.5 million, Calvez said.

If we assume that October’s ICANN 69, recently moved from Hamburg to Zoom, will see similar savings, then the total 2020 meetings bill could be down by between $6 million and $8 million.

Calvez added that ICANN’s funding during the coronavirus crisis has so far been holding steady.

No sooner had Calvez finished speaking than a pre-submitted community member question was read out wondering whether some of this cash could be redistributed to participants who are usually travel-subsidized.

Intellectual property expert Jonathan Zuck said that money could be handed out to volunteers in order to pay for things such as broadband upgrades and “finding quiet places to participate in the middle of the night”.

Perhaps surprisingly, Calvez and senior VP of global stakeholder engagement Sally Costerton did not rule this out.

In fact, she said such ideas are currently under active discussion and may be floated for public comment after ICANN 68.

One idea, I suggest, might be to compensate the 200-odd people who tuned into Thursday’s “Q&A” session for their time.

The session was scheduled to be an hour long, but the first 45 minutes were devoted to the 12 members of the ICANN executive team introducing themselves and patting themselves on the back for all the awesome work they’ve been doing.

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Comments (5)

  1. Don’t they just sit on the cash?

    Do they promote domain names at all? Probably not…

    They have a budget, but is it published? How much of that budget goes towards marketing domain names?

  2. Fat Anon says:

    due to the coronavirus-related shift

    At first glance I misread the last word here… no real difference though.

  3. Rod says:

    This is the problem with people who live off of other people’s money and spend it for a living. Once they’ve spent on one thing, they’ll look for the next thing to spend the remaining money, no matter how trivial or unnecessary that thing may be. Then they’ll look to reward their buddies (“consultants”, “volunteers”) and give them a cut of the cheese. And the spending grows and the organization bloats, but the thought that maybe some of the money could be returned to the people who paid for it in the first place never comes up.

    It is the nature of any large, virtually unaccountable organization and the many people who suckle at its teat.

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